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She Deals With Loneliness on the Road

I talk to myself...

I travelled solo to Spain and was staying for one month, so I posted a note for a travelling companion. I got a response from a man (gay and perfect!) who could meet up and travel with me. We got along really well, but he went to Greece while I had another five days of holiday left. I never thought I would feel disoriented and alone on my first trip to Europe but there I was feeling really blue. I was getting so desperate that I even tried to change my return ticket, but to no avail. The weather was rainy and cold, not the ideal for touring around. I decided to really push myself and go beyond what I ever thought I was capable of. I checked the weather report that night, found a warm and sunny climate in the southeast of Spain and the next morning, I boarded a train and headed for the sun. It was not as exciting as it might have been had I been travelling there with someone else, but given the circumstances, 'wasting' five days in the south of Spain was not so bad.

Travelling solo can be lonely, but that is part of the experience. In retrospect, I had a great time and I would do the same thing again. I'm so glad that I couldn't change my ticket and come back to Canada. I'd feel like such a whip if I had to tell people that I couldn't find anything to do in Spain so I came home early. I send my greetings and support to all the JourneyWomen out there who have the opportunity to go on a trip even if you do get lonely.
Kathy, Canada


I give myself options...

Loneliness on the solo-travel road gives you two options, both of which can be fun. First, you could just go with it. Pour out your heart in a journal with a glass of wine or two. But then treat yourself to a lazy and pampered evening in your hotel, giving yourself a facial, manicure and bubble bath. Shop for the supplies you need at a local pharmacy or department store.

The second option is to fight lonely feelings with action. Talk with your hotel desk staff, the local tourist office staff (or a local newspaper if you read the language) and find out what entertainment options are available. Then buy a ticket and attend the cultural event that most appeals to you - theater, dance, jazz, symphony or neighborhood piano bar. Once there, initiate conversations with the people near you - easy to do with an opening line of, "Excuse me, I'm new here and I wonder if you could tell me..."
Sharon, Atlanta, USA
Ed. note: Sharon is the publisher of www.travelaloneandloveit.com so you can't get better advice than that.


I join clubs...

I've been studying in Australia for the past 3-4 months and I found that joining different clubs made a big difference. I'm not your average age student (I'm 44) and to have moved to a completely different world (I'm Canadian) was quite a challenge. But I joined a bushwalking club and a cycling club and that keeps me busy enough on the weekends and I don't feel so homesick.
Anita, a Canadian in Australia

I practiced solo dining...

Dining solo requires practice. A woman contemplating traveling solo can start by dining solo in her hometown and then moving out to test her skills on day trips to neighbouring towns. Honestly, this works! This way she will be used to entering a restaurant solo, negotiating a decent table and ordering and eating with (not 'by') herself. A book or magazine to thumb through is a good prop, even a small notebook where she can take notes is good. I use my solo dinner meals as a time to write notes and feelings about the day. P.S. I never worry about the idea that people are seeing me alone. Judging from the bored looks on some of their faces, I think they might rather be alone, too.
Nancy, Los Angeles, USA.

I stay in hostels or smaller hotels...

I have traveled solo for more than 15 years, and know that loneliness (or fear of it) is something that stops many women from setting off on fabulous adventures. Here are just a few of my recommendations to combat that awful feeling of being along.

(1) Never enter a restaurant without a book or journal. Instead of sitting and staring at the wall while waiting for your meal, you can keep yourself occupied and feel less self conscious.

(2) Take yourself out. One of the ways to combat loneliness is to refuse to let it control your actions. So don't eat at the cheapest restaurant in town hiding your head in shame. Put on your nicest dress and take yourself to the best hotel in town. If you can't afford to eat the restaurant, buy yourself one drink in the lounge. I've done this in places as far away as Rangoon and Hanoi and it never fails to make me feel special.

(3) Join small group day tours. One of the ways I consistently meet others is by taking short tours. For example, a day tour of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia set me up with a number of Argentinean and Brazilian travelers who accompanied me for the next several days.

(4) Stay in smaller hotels or hostels. They're much friendlier places. You might ask to join a table of people at breakfast or sit in the lounge in the evening and see if anyone asks to join you.

(5) While you're away, take a class or language lessons. Most schools set up events to get people together. And you will surely meet others in class.

(6) I keep telling myself that there are just too many places to go and too many people to meet for me to ever get lonely while I'm traveling!
Sherri, Boston, USA

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