November 3, 2013

Alone, not lonely

A park in Taipei, wandered here with her and her friends from Japan on their recent visit to Taiwan

I think it is strange how often people ask me if I am lonely. Of all of the places I have moved since graduating in 2006, I don't think I have ever really been lonely. Of course loneliness is something everyone - regardless of location - experiences at certain points, but I've been blessed with a sense of contentment. I am just as happy wandering alone through train stations and night markets as I am with a group of friends. I recognize that it does not come easy for everyone, though. I've given a lot of thought to moving and starting over and the challenges and loneliness that can come with it.

Here are some tips and insights for your future solo travels.
-Know thyself: If you absolutely cannot stand the idea of eating in a restaurant or seeing the ballet alone, don't force yourself to be absolutely miserable on your vacation. Instead, find a compromise. Perhaps you stick to eating street food, bring a book, or get standing room only tickets for performances. Find a way to cope with the situation.

-Know your resources: I personally love CouchSurfing, as I love being invited into people's daily routines and homes. I find it the perfect combination of intimate and comfortable. But staying with strangers is not for everyone, and for those people, I still suggest CS. You can use the site to find a local guide or meet up with fellow travelers for a meal or drink, they even have weekly meet ups in big cities. Don't be nervous to post asking for a friend for the afternoon - the world is full of people looking for connections.

-Be wholehearted; put yourself out there. Don't turn away opportunities to interact with the people you will undoubtedly encounter. In many countries it is normal to be invited for a meal or into someone's home much sooner than we would be in America, so don't be surprised. Bring a gift for your host and an open heart, it is a huge pleasure to be included in someone's family.

-Create opportunities in your plans. Stay at hostels - and don't pay up for a private room, get to know your new roommates. Sign up for city tours or pub crawls, both free and paid give you a chance to meet those with similar interests. Take your headphones off and smile back. Every place I have been to there are always people trying to help, who recognize the guidebook, dSLR, and slightly overwhelmed expression. They might ask where I am going or what I am there to see, and often they suggest directions or offer to show me the sights. Depending on the situation and area, sometimes I say yes. Sometimes it is nice to see where life leads you. Sometimes you are stranded outside a bamboo forest without a mode of transportation and a tour bus scoops you up and takes you with them. You just have to look for the good. 


  1. is also a good resource for solo travel. :) Lots of independent reviews and less touristy destination ideas.

  2. Agreed! Now I just need a way to get around the tour companies that have 2 person minimums for booking..