Do I get lonely?
What an odd and sensitive question, but thank you for asking.
Here are the most common things people ask me:
Number one: "Are you crazy?" Well, obviously.
Number two: "How are you affording this?" Ha. Not very well.
And, ringing in at number three: "Are you lonely?"
I could answer this briefly, but then would it really be me talking? I will start with the brief. If that is all you truly care about, you can read it and move on.
No, I am not lonely on this trip.
I am an a social person. For my entire life, I have straight up prided myself on the fact that I do not need alone time. Seriously. I don't. I love talking to other people, probably more than anything else. It could even be my biggest flaw.
When I was backpacking through Europe last fall, I never thought I could do something like this. Jane (if you don't know who Jane is, gtfo) and I would even comment that there is always "something off" about anyone traveling alone. Even when the people were great, there was always something.... slightly off.
Now, traveling alone, I laugh even harder at that...but also agree that yes, there probably is something off about me.
I have observed every side of the spectrum: traveling with money, traveling on a budget, traveling with a group, traveling with one friend, traveling for a short amount of time, traveling for a long amount of time, and now, traveling alone.
All I can say is, as with most things in life: with every choice that is made, something is gained, and something is lost.
My reason for traveling alone on this trip was simple: I didn't want to compromise. Traveling with another person is all about compromise. Traveling with a group of people? You might as well leave your preferences at the airport. The decision to take the time and money to go on this trip was very hard, and very personal. Because I made the choice to actually do it, I couldn't risk it being anything less than what I wanted. I couldn't compromise, and therefore, I couldn't go with anyone else.
This is the feeling that has kept me from feeling lonely the entire time I have been gone. That being said, I am not sure it is something anyone could do.
The key is to have a purpose, or a passion while you travel. On this trip I have been concentrating on writing, photography, and calligraphy. Whenever I have free time, that is what I go back to. I have observed other travelers. I can state with complete confidence that the average person does not have this....
....and even though I am happy, I envy it.
If I wasn't so positive and so sure that this is what I want to be doing, I would panic when everybody else at my hostel was laughing and drinking and I was alone in the corner, writing.
If I didn't truly enjoy recalling and describing my days more than staying up till 3am and wasting the entire next day being hungover, I would probably feel differently.
However, I mean it when I say I envy these people. They can be spontaneous. When someone they just meet at a hostel invites them to go get a drink (this happens constantly), they can say yes. If that drink leads to a pub crawl, they can say yes. If they waste the entire next day being hungover, who cares?
Quite frankly, I have been there, and I have done that.... and that is not what this trip is for me.
But, if I didn't have my goals, then yes, I suppose I would feel quite lonely. There is a lot of alone time... but that is why I am here.
If you are thinking of traveling alone, I would suggest having a real purpose for your trip. Truthfully, that purpose could be drinking and partying - that isn't hard to find. However, if you don't have that, and you don't have a purpose, you might feel alone.
I think true loneliness has only struck me two or three times. Usually, it happens when a large group of people are laughing and having fun, and I am hanging on the sidelines.
But it always passes, and I am always fine.
The worst part of traveling alone is not having anyone to share memories with.
I have been to some incredible places. No, seriously, incredible. Some of the top places in the world. I am so lucky. I have seen such amazing and beautiful things.
But I can tell you... there is a big difference between turning to the person next to you and saying, "Wow, isn't this amazing?" and thinking in your head "wow, pretty amazing."
And that is the worst part of being alone. Not being lonely, but rather, not having anyone to share these special memories with.
If you have any questions or concerns about traveling solo, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org !!!