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Friday, September 12, 2008

Dealing with loneliness on the road

Do you ever get lonely when you travel? If not, why not? And what do you do to prevent the onset of loneliness, especially if you regularly travel alone? How do you deal with it? I must admit I don't think I know how it really feels to be lonely. Possibly because I've always been so busy. And for me, that's one way to keep loneliness at bay - travel with (a) purpose. But I do know what it means to be lonely, and my heart goes out to people I see when I travel who seem miserably alone. Some experienced travellers advise to prepare for it, others suggest embracing it. Over at travelblogs.com, Eric Daams has asked a bunch of travel bloggers to reflect on loneliness on the road and provide tips for travellers (great idea, don't you think?), and you can read them all here.

So, do you get lonely when you travel? And how do you cope with it?

9 comments:

Eric Daams said...

Hey Lara, thanks for the link out! I'm glad you liked the post - it's an interesting way to hear a unique variety of viewpoints. Cheers, Eric

Fly Girl said...

Hi Lara,
I'm not really geared toward loneliness on the road either since I love solo travel. I have noticed however, by about the 7th day, I get a little twinge about missing home and family. Keeping busy is always a great way to deal with this but I also like to write letters, postcards an e-mails. Writing about how I'm feeling at that moment helps to get it out and uncork the loneliness. It also connects me with who I'm missing. I'm always fine after that.

jen laceda said...

i've never been lonely while travelling, but of course, i haven't been on the road for 33 months or more. i'm not sure i'll ever get lonely travelling, but let's see. i am contemplating a solo trip to Namibia, or if i'm lucky, my husband would tag along. however, i refuse to bring my toddler because of the malaria risk, etc. i don't know how i feel about leaving my little girl...perhaps, for the first time, i might just feel lonely...

laradunston said...

Hey Eric - no problem, it's such a great idea to get bloggers to comment on a specific question like that, and have them provide something fresh and compare the responses - I really love it! Good stuff! And thanks for your support.

Hi Fly Girl - I did miss my husband and my family terribly when I was in South America travelling on my own. But I wasn't really homesick, I didn't miss Australia. I missed people rather than the place. I was also just so busy to feel lonely too. I guess I'm one of these people that is always busy and I'm always doing something. I don't just stroll around the city for the fun of it. I'm going somewhere, meeting someone, researching something, so I guess that's why I don't feel lonely and why I encourage people to travel with purpose.

Hi Jen

I'm like you, I don't feel lonely when travelling. I don't even think I've ever felt loneliness actually - it's more that I feel empathy for those who are lonely. And I definitely haven't felt it during these 33 months. I travel and work with my husband so we're pretty much with each other for 24 hours a day, unless he's out shooting and I'm staying in writing.

I'm guessing you're going to miss your little one when you're in Namibia, but it's the right decision not to take her.

Thanks for commenting everyone!

Travel Muse said...

Lara - Great post. I get lonely when I travel alone. It is great to be on my own and determining my agenda until I see a really great piece of art or something funny and I have no one to turn to and share it with. I usually take myself out to dinner and talk with my waiter if I'm really getting the blues. They are always so considerate of a woman traveling alone and they give great advice on what to see in their cities.

Alex said...

I love travelling alone. It allows me to come out of my shell and really connect with the people in the country I'm visiting. When I spent a month in India alone -it was a real eye opener on so many levels. It is a great opportunity to explore and challenge what you believe in (at one point I believed I was lonely and then I stopped myself and realized it was because I was doing it to myself).
However, now that I have a little man in my life I'm not sure how I would do without his little presence.

Erica said...

Like alex I also love traveling on my own. Nothing wrong with having a few friends tag along, but I often find I make more of an effort to connect with the locals when traveling solo.

And even if I travel alone, I don't feel alone. I think no matter where you are (unless it's an extremely isolated place) there's always someone to talk to. I think whether one's feeling lonely (or bored) much depends on one's attitude.

laradunston said...

Hi Travel Muse - thanks! The post was really just pointing readers to Eric's piece, so thank you! I agree with you that it's wonderful to be able to share those kinds of things with a companion. Although I like travelling alone, it's also the reason I love travelling with my husband, because we enjoy the same things. Sometimes we don't have to say anything. We just look at each other, and know what the other is thinking.

Hello Alex - I hear you; ditto, I loved my time in South America because I met so many people, it was amazing, partly because of my research, but partly because I was along. Terry and I meet a lot of people when we travel, but it's definitely a different thing - we tend to meet other couples rather than single travellers, because most single travellers are uncomfortable with couples I think.

Hi Erica - yes, I totally agree with you that it's about attitude. I think that's why I don't feel lonely. I'm quite happy to be alone and look around me and smell and listen to the aromas and music of a place. I find it take so much more in when I'm alone.

NewWrldYankee said...

Lara, I hope you don't mind, but I linked to your blog in an article about Free Call as a way of staiying in touch with home, and staving off loneliness on the road. It will go up tomm, so check if out if you get a chance.