The Answer to the Question Most Solo Travelers Get Asked

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.

Enjoying a quiet afternoon reading

Enjoying a quiet afternoon reading

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.

Sharing an amazing experience at Chiang Mai's Loi Krathong festival with new friends

Sharing an amazing experience at Chiang Mai’s Loi Krathong festival with new friends

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.

A typical brunch with friends in NYC

Neil and I after yet another spitting incident

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.

My German friend, Judith, visits me in Istanbul

My German friend, Judith, visits me in Istanbul

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.

My current view in Gili Air, Indonesia

My current view in Gili Air, Indonesia

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.

Traveling solo, and having a blast. Most of the time

Traveling solo, and having a blast. Most of the time

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.

17 Comments

  • True say – “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.”

    Not sure where you’re off to next Connie, but best of luck. Have a blast.

    • Connvoyage says:

      Hi Don! I’m heading to the Philippines next week! And thanks! I’m sure I’ll have a blast. Where are you these days?

      • Yeah, read through your 2013 post. I’m just stopping off in London for a couple of weeks whilst planning next steps. Likely South America, but I got some Starbucks time put aside to work out the details. Looking for a volunteer scheme out there, but with ENP, the bar is set pretty high now.

        • Connvoyage says:

          Yeah, ENP was an awesome volunteer experience, and one I still need to write about. =) I know a girl who volunteered in Pisco shortly after the earthquake a few years back. I think it was part of Burners Without Borders. I can get details from her if you’re interested?

          • Tell me about it. I have such a backlog of posts too. I remember my ENP was an allnighter job Laos.

            Thanks – the volunteer details would be useful tbh, Peru is one of the places i’m considering. Thanks for the BWB tip off in the meantime, I’ll take a look at others they have.

  • Arielle says:

    I liked this a lot :) I also found that I learned to appreciate my personal time and space a lot more, whereas I used to have to be surrounded by people 24/7. I think sometimes the loneliness stems from wanting to share the experiences and have someone to reminisce with in the future. It truly is a trade-off but the personal growth is priceless.

    • Connvoyage says:

      I know what you mean! I’m always thinking, “So and so would have enjoyed this” or “Aww, I wish so and so were here to experience this with me.” Good thing blogging is a great way to share some of these moments!

  • Audrey says:

    Thanks Connie, so that was one of my questions. I’ll definitely be curious if you write about the other questions I asked at some point. If not, thanks for sharing. I’ve been there myself, to a much lesser degree of course, but I understand.

  • pim says:

    great post. miss you!!

  • Nurul says:

    I so share your feelings!! Big hug for those lonely days!! :-)

  • Tanguy says:

    Hey Connie!
    Great to see that you’re enjoying it all (even those ‘lonely’ moments)… Funny though, I get the same question when on the road shooting for days while working on a story (and I know for a fact that it is more lonely than traveling for fun 😉 but there are magic moments & peeps you meet that just make it SO worthwhile!

    Raising my glass, wishing for those moments to let us feel alive!
    xo, Tanguy

    • Connvoyage says:

      Oh, Tanguy, you always know the right things to say! It’s true, these moments are the ones we live for. Hey, where are you these days? I was back in NYC for the summer and completely forgot to check if you were still around. Whoops!

  • Love this post, Connie and I can relate 😀 Usually, the first two days in the destination is the most ‘blank’ or partly lonely. sometimes, I simply want to be left alone and enjoy some me time by blogging or reading a book. Solo travel has its ups and downs, but you really learn more about yourself. Happy travels!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge