No. It doesn’t. If anything, it is quite the opposite.
Photo Credit: Craig Duckering
This is a question I often get from people only who have not ever traveled alone, but I feel it is important to discuss. Traveling alone is perhaps one of the best ways of not being lonely. If you crave social interaction, opportunities are endless! Often times, it just takes a simple “Hello!” and you have met a potential long term best friend or even soul mate. All you have to do is be open to new things and new people. Sit down somewhere, strike up a conversation, and see where it takes you! You never know who you are actually sitting next to unless you engage them. Besides other travelers like myself, I have ended up talking to an inventor, CEO, multiple war veterans, a Holocaust survivor, etc. They may even show you how they live not just through their words, but through a tour of neighborhoods you wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
Kliptown, in Soweto, Johannesburg. Yes people still live here, and are more lively than the wealthier areas.
If you are too shy to initiate a conversation with someone, that’s okay. Another door into interaction is just by reacting to something those around you are doing. Perhaps the couple at the table next to you said something so ridiculously funny that you can’t help but laugh. They will at least look over at you, make eye contact, and invite you to come sit with them at their table and join the conversation…or kids who don’t even speak your language could invite you to play a game or two.
Traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re alone. Traveling alone means you have all the freedom in the world to make new friends. Friends who, no matter what their first or second language is, will always be there for you whether you need a place to stay when you’re in their native country or just a virtual shoulder to cry on…or to sit on.
A benefit of traveling alone is not feeling obligated to be social when you prefer time to be introspective, or when you are just completely annoyed and unimpressed by the people around you (particularly in the morning! haha). Don’t get me wrong, traveling with friends and/or family is great, but it’s a different experience because you might not always have access to those antisocial moments that keep you and everyone around you sane. Unless there is beer or wine involved, of course. Those help! 😉
On the other hand, if you travel with the right person who understands you need time for yourself and uses that time for themselves too, it can be a close to perfect pairing! With that, each party can either relax somewhere by themselves OR can go out and meet new people to later introduce to the other party…then you have an actual party!
Photo Credit: Leonardo Ramirez, Festival de Belen, 2015 in Iquitos, Peru
The only uncomfortable thing I have experienced alone is being in the hostel room all by myself because I may or may not still be a little afraid of the dark. Will that stop me from spelunking in caves, camping deep in the wilderness, ghost walking in areas known for their horrific pasts, etc? Uh NO! I wouldn’t pass any of that up for the world! Fear, schmear…reminds me of bagels.
Okay I got off track, sorry…back to business.
Traveling with friends and/or family is a great way to learn about people you’ve known for a while in a new way, while traveling alone is a great way to get to know yourself in ways you can’t otherwise experience.
To new beginnings!
To new heights!
To new depths!
You never know how far you can take your life, or how far your life can take you unless you get out there and do! Traveling with others is enjoyable, but it is a different experience altogether. When you travel alone, you only have yourself to hold accountable for doing or not doing something (except the weather…often times yes you can blame the weather…especially in Cape Town). Being the only one pushing yourself to experience things like jumping off the tallest commercial bridge bunjy jump in the world and dive with Great White Sharks is way more empowering than doing something simply because someone else wants to. There is no one else. This is all you. You did this and you are great for that!
All things said and done, although it may feel like it at times, nobody is ever truly alone.