Deals With Loneliness on the Road
I've been travelling
solo for twenty-three years and I absolutely love it. It wasn't
always like this. I remember my first solo journey to Europe.
It was just after my divorce and I couldn't stop crying. I cried
on park benches in Paris, in restaurants in Rome and even as I
shopped in London. No, it wasn't simply because my heart was broken.
I know now that my sadness was all about being totally alone,
without a support system, and not having another human being to
share my travel experiences with.
I still get
Since that time
I've worked on learning the art of solo travel. Today's newspaper
articles and magazine stories applaud my seeming ability to venture
forth all alone. Bold adjectives like brave and intrepid inevitably
find their way into journalists' descriptions. Yet few explore
the underlying truth. I still feel alone when I travel. That's
natural because I am alone. In fact, at times I experience extreme
loneliness. Now I enroll in classes along the way, seek out restaurants
with communal tables or use my solitude to relax
and just be me. The difference between that first solo journey
and now is that I have acquired the experience and the skills
that help me to deal with the 'aloneness' and to reach out for
company when I need it. Actually, in a lovely turnaround way,
it is this reaching out that has produced incredible experiences
that make me love 'solo travel' even more.
In a past newsletter
I asked other travelling women to share their thoughts on loneliness.
Do they feel lonely as well? Any solutions to offer ? Has loneliness
stopped them from going off to follow their journey dreams? Here
is a sampling of e email responses from the Journeywoman Network.
Some submissions are serious, others lighthearted, however we
found each one helpful in their own special way. Enjoy everybody!
are my link to home...
I do feel lonely at
times but that doesn't stop me from travelling all by myself. Going
alone allows me the freedom to do what I want to do when I want
to do it. However, I can't bear being away from my family for long
stretches of time and not knowing what's happening back home. My
survival plan is finding out beforehand where the
cybercafes are located at my destination. Then I seek
these places out and get daily updates from my
clan. They even send digital photos as a special treat.
a woman who knits...
I learned to knit
recently, and avid knitters are never without their knitting,
especially when travelling. It's a distraction from loneliness
and boredom, as well as a good conversation starter. People invariably
ask what it is that I'm knitting, then tell me about their own
knitting or a friend who knits, etc. I've met lots of nice folks
this way, as well as fellow fiber artists and fashion designers.
P.S. I've had no
problems bringing (wooden) knitting needles on planes. Just leave
your scissors and tapestry needles at home or pack them in your
Theresa, Atlanta, USA.
gave someone a birthday party...
Reach out! That's
my cure for loneliness. Travelling to Paris by train I struck up
a conversation with a young American woman twenty years my junior.
She told me it was her birthday -- the first time she wasn't celebrating
with family and friends. I invited her out to dinner and then to
a French dubbed Woody Allen movie with English subtitles ( hilarious!).
We had a great time. It didn't make a huge dent in my travel budget
and I'll bet that she remembers that celebration as vividly as I
do. I hope that one day someone does the same for me.
give myself presents...
A great way to
deal with loneliness on the road is to take along gifts. I put
aside any small ones at Christmas or my birthday. Not that I receive
so many gifts, but if no one minds, I just don't open smaller
gifts when they are given and save them for times when I expect
to feel low. When I open one I feel loved and connected and surprised.
It's a real pick me up.
Cyndie, Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
feel bad if you feel bad...
Here's a bit of
advice that I would like to share with other JourneyWomen. I have
found over years of solo travel that the day of my arrival at
my destination is always the toughest. I tend to feel lonely,
a little frightened, and often end up doubting the sanity of my
decision to travel alone again. In order to head off those early
trip blues, I bring along a favorite snack treat from home, eat
it upon my arrival at my hotel, take a refreshing shower, and
then head out for a walk. It helps me to get to know the area
where I am staying. It keeps me from basking in loneliness in
my hotel room, and it provides me with a breath of fresh air in
my new home away from home. By the time the following morning
rolls around, I am usually feeling more than ready for a brand
Gail, Charlotte, North Carolina,