What Sucks About Traveling Solo

Everyone  should travel solo once in their life! It’s such an incredible experi—….Ugh, I can’t do this.

To be honest, traveling alone is not as romantic as it sounds.  When I travel on my own dime, It’s always a trip for one. As an introvert and self-proclaimed loner I love solo travel…but also kind of hate it too. 

airport travel

On the one hand, solo-trips make for an intimate kind of personal experience.  It’s over the course of my solo-travels that I’ve grown the most, uncovering internal dialogue muted by life’s everyday noise. These solo-journeys cater to self-reflection and self-discovery. So yeah, go travel solo!…[steps down off soap box].

On the other hand, discovering a new place with another person makes my memories rich in a different way. I’m not just perceiving from my point of view, I’m seeing the world from their’s too. My memories feel more vivid, marked by laughter and inside jokes, clinking cocktails and grandiose bar talks. Every so often it feels good to open up my internal chatter to someone else, to have a sounding board that doesn’t have my tone of voice.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I have found dialogue to be much more educational than soliloquy.”–said someone, probably.[/pullquote]

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Shared Travel

Sharing our travels with others is a huge reasons why we do it (this statement is inarguable… because social media). If you have a cappuccino in Italy, but don’t take a picture of it against the piazza, did it even happen? Having others enjoy that cup with you may enhance your appreciation of the moment, and perhaps you’ll remember it better (Or not. Maybe you’re too busy filtering your photo and not enjoying the moment. Get out of your phone!). Shared experiences bring us together and enliven the way we look at the world. We all know that solo traveler who’ll regail you with tales of their epic solo backpack ‘venture. But chances are their favorite moments were nights spent with others: making new friends around bonfires, dancing on the beach, walking through quiet streets at night listening to shared laughter echo off of cobblestones.

Portugal Empty Street

Solo Travel

So, here’s the funny thing about solo travel— you’re actually the opposite of alone. Traveling by yourself allows you to be open and approachable to locals and other travelers. Large groups and couples are not so approachable. So when you travel alone, you’re only as alone as you want to be. I like having the choice, the option to be by myself or make new friends.

But then despite my best efforts, I find myself sitting alone in my hotel at the end of the day wondering ‘why the heck I’m doing this?’ traveling perpetually like a druggie in search of the next hit. The loneliness as I sit there by myself is palpable. All at once it seems like I could very well be alone forever (I tend to get hyperbolic when I’m all by myself).

So what then?

How do you keep the blues at bay when you are living the nomadic life, not knowing in what city your next friend might be?

Answer: Bring “home” to you.

And now for a brief story that has a point if you stick with it:

Not too long ago I found myself in an awesome Airbnb. Despite it’s super cool rock climbing wall, and fireman’s pole, and lofted area with secret mini doors into other rooms (seriously, the coolest airbnb)… I was sad. I had no one with me to play hide-and-seek with in the loft with the tiny Alice-in-Wonderland doors! It was seriously bumming me out.  There I was, all by myself with nothing but the sounds of Oregon’s high desert to talk to. So for a few minutes I wallowed in my own misery and despair and my unexpected wave of sadness…. And then I remembered I live in 2015 and I picked up my iphone and called an old friend. He in turn gave me some solid advice that totally turned my night around…

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Home can be anywhere. Home is a feeling, not what surrounds you.[/pullquote]

 

Fireman's Pole Bend Oregon

I told you there was a fireman’s pole.

So I quickly went out to the nearest grocery store and bought myself a spread of cheese, crackers, prosciutto, olive tapenade, and of course–WINE (apparently I was Renaissance painter in another life). I brought it back to my airbnb and crafted my charcuterie board. I sat down with my favorite meal, my laptop, and a thick anthology of travel stories… And just like that, I was “home” (Thanks Trader Joe’s).

Charcuterie

Don’t let the traveling blues get to you. Traveling is for making new friends, sure, but it’s also about sitting with that silence until you learn something new about yourself. Like who you wish was there with you, why you’re traveling, what you’re learning from this experience. Listen to those answers…but do it while enjoying a glass of wine, knowing that “home” is a just a state of mind.

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What makes you feel at home while you wander? Leave a comment below:

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a dancer, wandering this world as performing artist and writing about it. She's skilled at forgetting her umbrella, getting lost, and eating too much cheese. Wend is her platform to share her nomadic lifestyle, and all the moments of beauty, grace, and hilarity that happen along the way. Join her as she finds her place in the world while dancing whenever she can.

2 comments on “What Sucks About Traveling Solo

  1. Great post! I have just started my solo travel journey, but I can already relate to this. I spent one night pitying myself in my private room at a hostel wondering why I couldn’t make friends. Then the next night I was chatting happily with a couple of fellow travelers. I think your friend is so right that home is a mindset. I’ve brought with me a little travel candle and a few crystals that I set up wherever I lay my head and it’s really helped me feel like I’m “home.” Thank you for sharing this!

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