Journeywoman Heather Burns-DeMelo is a woman (with wanderlust)
currently disguised as an Assistant Editor and freelance
writer. Her past jobs have included working as a divemaster
in Thailand, a kiddie teacher in Taiwan, and a fire twirler
in Malaysia. Now a mother of two, she anxiously awaits
her next opportunity to jet-off somewhere exotic. Heather
Let's face it--traveling alone can be lonely. Of course,
there are the times that you meet a local on the train
and she warmly invites you over for dinner, or you bump
into another solo traveler in the guesthouse lobby and
you spend the next few days chatting it up and seeing
the sites together. But what can you do to keep from feeling
lonely during the times in between?
alone for nearly three years, I came up with ways to meet
new people, keep loneliness at bay, or just keep myself
occupied until fate sends someone my way.
after arriving in a new place, I scope out local restaurants
and coffee houses. When I find one I like, I make it part
of my daily routine to spend some time there eating, reading,
or planning my next destination.
By my second or third visit, the owner would warm up,
my coffee mug for free, or tell me about the latest local
"best kept secret." Other solo travelers seem
to use this tactic as well, which makes meeting new people
a snap. At a French bakery in Cambodia, I met a Dutch
filmmaker who was looking for someone to share the cost
of transport to Angkor Wat. We spent the day exploring
the ancient temples and as a thank you, he gave me a copy
of the day's footage.
Seek out volunteer opportunities...
always people and organizations that need help.
Over breakfast one morning, I saw a flier on a message board
that said, "Donate an afternoon: Visit a prisoner and
make a difference." Intrigued, I followed
the directions to Bangkok's Banglapu prison on the outskirts
of the city. There I met Nigel, a Nigerian man who had been
behind bars for nearly ten years and had only one visitor;
me. He told me his story. I told him mine. The hour passed
quickly and I left a different, more grateful, person.
provides opportunities to learn new skills that will spice
up your trip and send you home with something to add to
your resume...or at least impress a first date. Depending
on where you go, you can make your own drum in India,
learn to whip up
authentic gourmet dishes in Thailand, call to wild animals
with the didgeridoo in Australia, or learn the ancient
art of batique in Malaysia. As someone who was certain
that JAWS was a real-life creature who spent his life
cruising the ocean in search of me, signing up for an
Open Water SCUBA course opened up a new world, built up
my confidence, and provided me with lasting friendships.
To find out more about Travel
and Learn opportunities,
out tour groups...
you're traveling solo, you can still join a group now
and then to meet new people or familiarize yourself with
a new place. Most hostels and guesthouses offer informal,
non-touristy treks, tours, and guided walks. When I first
arrived in Athens, I was dismayed to discover that the
street signs were in Greek, while my map printed them
in English. I set out on foot, determined to discover
the ancient city by myself. While I generally view getting
lost as a welcomed adventure, I promptly returned to my
by taxi after nearly losing my leg to a pack of stray
alley dogs. The next day, I joined other guests in my
hostel on an informal tour of the city.
solo can be one of the most rewarding ways to see the
world, but even the most seasoned globe-trotters can get
lonely. Welcome those times as opportunities to reach
out to others and try something new. But if all else fails...go
solo travel motivation...
If you need further
motivation to try solo travel, here are a few more links
you might like to follow...
Want some travel shopping secrets? Click
in more tips to fight loneliness? Click