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Solo travel is one of the richest experiences within your reach, but the loneliness can get unbearable. Here are some incredible tips to beat loneliness while travelling alone.
“Lone travel is not about being alone, it’s about giving space to your thoughts and challenging yourself; it’s about meeting new people and experiencing cultures in a solitude that is non-existential in the everyday life; it’s about changing gears from the world unknown to the world within, again and again”
Solo travel is the ultimate form of Carpe Diem. Your thoughts are invincible. Your journey unfolds under the shadows of the decisions you make. Although in hindsight the trip feels like the best rendezvous with your true self, it may become overwhelming while you are living it. There is a cyclical experience of exuberance and loneliness as you go deep into your journey. If you are a solo women traveller, then safety concerns are valid in any part of the world – interacting with strangers may be difficult, and loneliness can smudge your travel enthusiasm.
So how can you subdue the loneliness of lone travel and enjoy the journey? Here are few tips from my own endeavours:
Lone travel is the best way to meet fellow travellers/natives at your location of stay. They serve as a companion when your thoughts are drowning you.
When I am couch-surfing in a city, I ensure that my host is someone with whom I can have long discussions. I offer to teach cooking, explain the intricacies of the developing world, or share my knowledge of Indian history, music, and books. I also do prior research of the place I am visiting to understand the cultural ideology, and always end up quizzing my hosts. Sometimes, I suggest good events in the city and invite my host for same. I stay for at least two days, for the camaraderie to develop.
When I stay in hostels, I select those which have a culture of either group cooking or in-house parties, or those which organize tours around the city. It ensures my safety as I can interact with people who are staying in the hostel.
From a biologist-turned-musician to a 20-year-old-single-mother, I have met a wide range of people and gotten involved in their lives to fight my own loneliness.
Travelling alone gives you the freedom to do anything without getting judged. I challenge myself on things which are obvious in my daily life.
Do you feel uncomfortable while dining alone? Can you watch theatre without any company? I once went alone for a thermal bath in Budapest, and relaxed myself by indulging in medicinal saunas for five hours. In Switzerland, I devoured chocolate delicacies every time I halted in the small scenic towns on the golden panorama route. You can unleash any fantasy without reins, and keep challenging yourself on lone travels.
After my second lone trip, I borrowed a DSLR from a friend and learned the basics. Since then, experimenting with light, frame, and shutter speeds helps me enjoy every view in totality. I get obsessed capturing the dimensions that my eyes can savour, and create a collage of detailed memories. On days when I am travelling alone in cities, my camera becomes a means to find uniqueness and purpose in everything I do, and shut away my loneliness.
Solo travel unintentionally forces you to think about your entire life, your regrets, your ambitions, and your learnings. I carry a small leather diary to capture my imaginations and realizations. I also note down my conversations with fellow travellers as a souvenir. The diary acts as a listener when I feel alone and crave for a sense of belonging. Every time I look back at my scribbling, I feel the rush of my travel, and the freedom to do anything I want.
Travelling alone serves like a therapy in the personal space and makes you appreciate the people in your life. I write letters/mails to friends and family and send it to them while I am on the road. I express myself without hesitation, and it helps me invalidate my loneliness when I believe in the love that encompasses me.
I always carry two-three books during my lone travels. I make an assortment of books I have been planning to read, and books relevant to the places I am visiting. Owning a Kindle is the best way to deal with the space crunch. Books enable me to break my circular thoughts, and find solace in the characters and the story.
I turn to music every time my mind absolves itself from reading, talking, and thinking. I take music for every mood, and a collection of unheard artists to keep myself involved when my spirits are lonely and down.
Lone travel is like facing the fear of boredom with your own self, and very few people want to experiment this truth. However, loneliness should not stop anyone from travelling. Learning to overcome this fear teaches you to reach out for company, and these experiences are so vivid that they indulge you to travel alone even more. You receive the acts of humanity and profound kindness. You have the choice to overcome the fear of being alone, invest time in yourself, and know the person you are much better.
Pic credit: Image of feet on a beach via Shutterstock.
Nikita Bharadia is a traveler, biker, photographer and a yoga enthusiast. She graduated from BITS
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