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Solo-Travel 101: Tips for Traveling alone Without Feeling Lonely
People who embark on their first solo trip often describe their experience as a rite of passage, or some sort of religious experience. Truth be told, taking in new surroundings, having the freedom to plan a trip as you see fit, and meeting new people is amazing. Nevertheless, we rarely follow our dreams, and find it easier to do what someone else wants us to do.
Picture this scenario for a bit. You have just made travel plans international, you have arrived with your friends to the desired location, and now they want to visit museums, but maybe you want to check out the local cuisine first. Chances are that you will follow the group's desires, and forfeit your own. This is not what you want from your trip. It is imperative for travelers to experience things at their own pace. This is exactly why solo travel is such a liberating experience.
The Fears of Traveling Alone
What are you most afraid of when traveling alone?
Travel Tips: How to Travel Alone
When you travel alone, you can do anything you want, whenever you want, but there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of. If you woke up this morning thinking “I need to plan a trip alone” here are a few things you should know about socializing as a solo traveler. After safety, loneliness is the number one complaint that a solo traveler makes. If you can't seem to make the most of your time alone, here are a few tricks that will help you fight of loneliness.
“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.” (Source: Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel)
The Best Way to Meet People is By Traveling Alone
If you are like most people you are probably terrified of traveling alone, and it is perfectly normal to feel this way, but there are many benefits to solo travel. When traveling with a group, people are inclined to remain inside their bubble, so they can't really make new friends. As you may probably guess, traveling alone makes you more approachable than when you are in a group. Locals will be encouraged to reach out to you if you look lost, or are simply searching for a good party. If you are visiting Southeast Asia, chances are that people will start a discussion with you out of pure curiosity, because very rarely people (particularly women) are seen traveling solo.
Remember that you are not the only solo traveler out there. There are many intrepid globetrotters that prefer to embark on solo adventures. They are also more likely to join you for a drink if you are alone, instead of in a group, because you already have a major thing in common: the strength to explore the world alone. Someone once said that people make the world go 'round, and even if you don't make a lifelong friend, you will at least spend your time with them for a week or two. So what is the best way to make new friends, and not feel lonely while traveling alone?
1. Realize that the World is Smaller than You Think
There are two ways to look at life, and traveling. You can either feel like a spec of sand in the vast, lonely universe or you can accept the fact that people have many things in common, which can bring them together. Sure, you might not find people with whom you click perfectly, but this doesn't mean that you can't learn new things from them, especially if they have a totally different culture and upbringing from you.
Loneliness is a state of mind, not a state of latitude and longitude. The most important thing is to leave your comfort zone, relinquish negative thoughts, and socialize. What's the worst that can happen? Even if you are rejected, you might never meet the person again in your life.
2. Say Yes to Everything (Within Reason)
One of the greatest joys of planning to travel around the world alone, is the sense of freedom and spontaneity. In other words, it is only when you are in a solo trip that you can say yes to unplanned invitations. Trips rarely go as planned, and even if you manage to put together the most complex travel items checklist, chances are that you will discover places you had no idea existed until that moment. Who knows, you might even get invited to tag along and check out locations you didn't plan on visiting. The most important thing is to say yes to these opportunities. By doing so you give yourself the chance to have a great, new experience, and meet new people.
3. Good Conversation Starters for Solo Travelers
Most of us are raised not to talk to strangers, but if you have decided to embark on a solo trip, the ability to reach out to people you don't know is invaluable. It is a skill that will probably lead you to the greatest experiences, because you will probably be bonding with people who have different principles, cultural insight, political understanding etc. For locals, solo travelers are somewhat exotic, and therefore interesting. All you need to know is to find good conversation starters.
- The best way to start conversations with locals is by asking them for directions, or advice. Make sure to let them know that you are traveling alone.
- If you are trying to approach other solo travelers, you should be cautious. Just because someone is traveling alone doesn't mean that they want to be disturbed. Open the conversation with a simple remark, about the weather or surroundings, and see how they react.
- The easiest way to socialize is in a club. You should sit at the bar, as it is more social than a table. If someone talks to you, comment about the music and band, but stay away from shady characters. (Here are more tips on Clubbing & Pubbing solo)
Do you think you have what it takes to mingle with a group of tourists? The first thing you should do is determine who the leader is (he is usually the one carrying the map) and open the conversation with a question. There is nothing like genuine curiosity to engage people
4. Try Out Restaurants with Communal Tables
There is nothing wrong with dining alone, but let's be honest, it's a lot funner when you can chat, and laugh with other people. The best way to do this is by searching for restaurants with communal tables. But how exactly can you find these communal tables? You should do some research beforehand, preferably on Google. Type in the keyword and the cities you will be visiting and you will be presented with many articles about communal tables. We also recommend you to try ChowHound.com, because people there are extremely helpful.
5. Make Connections Before You Go
If you are really worried about getting lonely, you can research the possibilities of making friends before you begin your trip. You can hook up with locals and other travelers on Trip Advisor, or Couchsurfing. Couch-surfing is undoubtedly the best go-to place, as it has many verified people who are more than willing to socialize with you. There are also many group activities that you can join, and people are genuinely interested in meeting up for a coffee and showing you around.
All in all, the problem is not about how to decide where to travel, but how exactly it is that you want to travel. Solo traveling doesn't necessarily have to be about socializing. It can also be a journey of self-discovery and meditation. In the end, you should only do things that you are comfortable with, but we hope that the above traveling alone tips will help you.
Recommended Read for Solo Travelers
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