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...
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
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.
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
"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.
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
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.
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!
solo travel motivation...
If you need further motivation
to try solo travel, here are a few more links you might like
Want some travel shopping secrets? Click
in more tips to fight loneliness? Click