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When Lonely -- Reach Out or Go Shopping


American 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 writes...

Here's the truth...
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?

After traveling 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.

Frequent an establishment...

Shortly 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, refill
my coffee mug for free, or tell me about the latest local festival or
"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...

There are 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.

Learn something new...

Traveling 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.
Ed. note: To find out more about Travel and Learn opportunities,
click here

Check out tour groups...

Even if 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 guest house 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.

Traveling 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 shopping!

More solo travel motivation...

If you need further motivation to try solo travel, here are a few more links you might like to follow...

She's Divorced -- She Travels Solo
She Goes Solo -- She Finds Courage
Her Diary Entries Help Other Travellers
Solo Travel - Solo Evenings
Travel Solo But Not Alone
Dining Solo in The Big Apple
Ms. Biz Solo Dining -- Make it Fun!
She's Independent in India
Travelling Solo in Paris

Ed note: Want some travel shopping secrets? Click here

       Interested in more tips to fight loneliness? Click here





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