So what exactly is the question that I, and other solo travelers, get asked the most?
“Do you ever get lonely traveling by yourself?”
Well, the answer is yes… and no.
Now hear me out before you get all upset that I haven’t quite answered the question. In truthfulness, I have. There simply isn’t a clear cut answer to this particular question.
I’m not going to lie. Somedays I do get lonely traveling on my own. Some days I don’t want to have the same conversations that I’ve had a million times before. I’m bored out of my mind of telling new people I’m not from Japan, where I’m really from, how long I’ve been traveling, where I’ve traveled… You know, the usual traveler small talk. These sort of days, I just curl up with a good book and keep to myself.
But then somedays, I meet other travelers that I connect with, those whom I can get past the banal conversations, and when this occurs, amazing things tend to follow and then, I’m not so lonely anymore.
Somedays, I do get lonely and homesick and I just want to sit across the table from my dear friends whom I miss so dearly, to have them know whether my silence is caused by my boredom by our millionth discussion about the nastiness of balut or my contentment of being in their company. Or better still, to have a good laugh over how Neil has somehow managed to spit on me (always, only me) when talking while eating, or just to laugh about nothing at all.
Somedays, if the timing works out, friends from back home or in different parts of the world will meet me in some random other part of the world and we’ll travel together for a few days or weeks and then, I’m not so lonely anymore.
Somedays, I think I’m just about ready to pack up my back back one last time and board that dreaded 20+ hour flight back to New York City.
But then, on these random lonely days, I glance up from where I am sitting and look around me. Perhaps I’ll be staring out across the most amazing blue green ocean view I’ve ever seen (as I currently am in picturesque Indonesia). Maybe I’ll be gazing up at a nightsky filled with so many bright, twinkling stars that my breath literally catches in my throat. Or I could even be looking across city traffic from a roadside cafe, trying to breath in the fumes as little as I possibly can.
No matter where I am, when I’m feeling a bit lonely and I just take that brief moment to look up and think, really think about what it is that I’m doing: traveling, experiencing, learning, and growing with all that’s going on around me, I remember what a truly amazing life I’m leading, how so many other people have told me that they wish they could be doing exactly what I was doing.
I’m lucky to be traveling the way that I am. I am very aware and appreciative of this life. Yes, sometimes it can get lonely, but when you choose to take the path less traveled, sometimes you do have to go at it on your own.
And that’s not a bad trade-off at all.