What’s the biggest thing holding you back from traveling alone?
I’ll bet $10 feeling lonely while traveling solo is your top concern (or at least somewhere in the top three).
After all, humans are social creatures. We want to share experiences with others and feel a sense of community and belonging.
So the thought of not having your best friend around when exploring a new city or eating alone at a restaurant can seem pretty terrifying. This fear stops a lot of women from taking the plunge and seeing what all the fuss is about with solo travel.
While these fears and worries are completely valid, don’t let them hold you back from living an extraordinary life. If it’s your dream to go to Bali and none of your friends are jumping at the chance to join you, don’t let loneliness stop you from making your dream a reality.
There are loads of ways you can avoid feeling lonely while traveling solo and get back to focusing on the most important thing – enjoying every moment of your vacation.
Below, I’m breaking down the top things that have worked for me to curb loneliness when traveling alone. Try these out, and hopefully you’ll feel empowered to go on an incredible solo trip!
8 Ways to Overcome Feeling Lonely While Traveling Solo
Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
Airbnbs and hotels are great places to stay, but it’s sometimes hard to meet other travelers.
If feeling lonely while traveling solo is a big worry when planning your trip, book a private or dorm room at a hostel. Some hostels prioritize socializing with daily or weekly events, common areas, and an on-site bar.
Hop onto sites like Hostelword and read the reviews to find the best social hostel for you.
But, if hostel life isn’t for you, you can still get your social fix. Most hostels have hangout areas that are open to the public. Come here for a drink or one of the events, and you’re bound to find some interesting people.
For instance, when I was in Tulum, I stayed in a coworking hostel for about a week, and an Airbnb for the rest of my time. When I was in my Airbnb, the hostel I stayed at was having a big beach event that was open to the public. So, I decided to go and start mingling with other guests ahead of schedule!
Join a Pub Crawl
Okay, hear me out.
I know going to a pub crawl alone seems crazy, but it can actually be so much fun. Usually, hostels put these events together, and it’s a fantastic way to meet other travelers who are in the mood to have a good time.
Plus, you often get discounted or free drinks, skip-the-line access, and sometimes a t-shirt as a souvenir. It’s a win-win!
Your pub crawl leader will take you to 3-6 bars/pubs/clubs in the area. You’ll get a feel for the local nightlife scene in a foreign country and make friends simultaneously.
If you’re struggling to find a pub crawl, head to Facebook or Google and search “pub crawl + [name of city].”
While I haven’t had a chance to do a full-on pub crawl solo yet, I have gone to a Full Moon Party with my hostel when I was solo in the Philippines. They made it so easy, I ended up making some great friends I still keep in touch with to this day. And, I didn’t have to miss out on the fun just because I was alone!
Book an Airbnb Experience
Airbnb Experiences are one-of-a-kind events, typically led by locals. It’s a wonderful way to meet people who live in the city you’re exploring and see the destination through their eyes.
Plus, there’s a seemingly endless list of activities to suit your interests.
For example, in Oaxaca, Mexico you can:
- Take a Oaxacan cooking class (which I did, and LOVED)
- Go on a mezcal tasting (again, LOVED)
- Take a walking tour of the city center
- Visit a local food market
- Explore the ancient ruins of Monte Alban
With only a small number of guests typically allowed on each experience, it’s a much more personal way to connect with the host and other travelers.
Take a Book or Laptop to the Restaurant With You
I don’t know about you, but when I first started traveling solo, the thought of eating in a restaurant alone definitely made me feel weird.
It seemed so bizarre to ask for a “table for one.” I could have sworn everyone noticed I didn’t have anyone joining me for dinner.
No one CARED!
And I’ve learned to deal with the anxiety by giving myself something to do in between mouthfuls of food.
If I’m traveling alone for a work trip, I might bring my laptop and catch up on emails. If it’s a solo vacation, and I’m at a more casual restaurant, I’ll have a book to keep myself company. Or, I’ll catch up on Instagram Stories of my travels.
If I’m in need of extra entertainment, I’m also not above watching a Netflix show on my phone (with headphones, of course).
All of these options have helped take my mind off being alone in a restaurant and stop the incessant thoughts of what other people might be thinking.
But besides that, it’s also helped me enjoy my own company. It’s empowering to entertain myself. It’s empowering to not have to rely on other people to make me feel comfortable. I no longer feel any anxiety or loneliness dining alone during my solo travels!
Still not sounding very appealing?
Try going to a restaurant with communal tables, also known as communal dining. Even though you won’t know the people sitting next to you, it won’t feel like eating alone, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation with your neighbors.
Alternatively, go to a restaurant and ask for a seat at the bar! People (bartender included) are usually much more conversational when seated at the bar, and you might get some interesting conversations out of it.
Take a Class with Other Like-Minded Travelers
Learning something new is always a great travel experience, and it’s the perfect way to get your daily dose of socializing.
Once you know where you’re going for your solo trip, start looking for different classes in the area around your interests.
- Traveling to Laos? Take a cooking class and learn how to whip up a delicious, authentic local meal.
- Spending a couple months in Central or South America? Sign up for a Spanish language class.
- Itching to swim with sea turtles and whales? Get your PADI Open Water certification.
- Love your craft gin or beer? Take a class and learn what goes into making your favorite drink.
Whatever you choose, you’ll no doubt get to meet other like-minded people and potentially find a new group of new friends along the way!
Sign Up for a Group Tour
One of the pitfalls of solo travel is that you don’t have a built-in travel buddy. Signing up for a group trip gives you people to hang out with by default, and helps you experience a destination without worrying about going solo.
There’s so many great group travel companies out there, but some personal favorites include:
- Legit Trips: A women-owned company (yay!) leading small-format group trips for men and women all over the world. I have been an ambassador of Legit Trips for a while, and have traveled with them to Cozumel, Mexico and Havasupai, Arizona.
- Use code ‘LEGITRACHEL25’ for trips 4 days or less
- Use code ‘LEGITRACHEL50’ for trips 5 days or more
- Contiki: Group social travel all over the world for travelers age 18 – 35. I was a Contiki ambassador in 2019 and traveled with Contiki around western Europe with 18 others around my age!
- Intrepid Travel: A socially conscious B-corp company offering ‘planet-friendly’ trips for curious travelers. I haven’t traveled with Intrepid Travel yet, but many of my friends have. Hopefully I will also in the future!
If you’re on a tight budget, find a walking tour. These are often free, with guides working on a tips-encouraged basis. You’ll get to learn about the city’s history, see incredible architecture, and sometimes even try local food with a group of other travelers from around the world.
Another good option is booking a day tour. You only need to commit one day while still having complete control of your itinerary for the rest of your trip. Plus, you don’t need to plan anything. Kick back, relax, enjoy the sights and get to know your fellow travelers.
After spending an entire day with a group of strangers, there’s a high chance you’ll find someone to have dinner with later at least, or become lifelong travel buddies with at best!
Go on a Digital Nomad Retreat
Are you a remote worker, or someone looking to travel more without quitting your full-time job? But maybe, the thought of traveling and working alone makes you feel more anxiety than excitement?
Try going on a digital nomad retreat! These types of trips organize everything for you, from your apartment to your coworking membership, making it easy to meet other people like you.
The structure of these trips typically has everyone stay in a house or the same apartment building, and you’ll all get access to the same work and wifi amenities. When you’re not working, you can make plans with your fellow digital nomads to hit up new coffee shops, head to the beach, or go on a weekend trip to a nearby destination.
Digital nomad trips are a newer trend in the travel world, and I fully expect them to gain tons of popularity as more and more workers go remote. I started working fully remotely in 2020, and I’ll be going on my first official digital nomad retreats in 2021. I can’t wait to report back to you all on how they go!
Here’s a list of digital nomad retreat companies on my radar that are worth checking out:
Embrace (And Be Proud Of) the Idea of Traveling Alone
Solo travel is all about changing your mindset towards travel as a whole. Instead of focusing on what you’re not sharing with someone else, focus on everything you get to do because you’re traveling alone.
Don’t feel like sightseeing? Great! Stay in bed, order room service, and binge Netflix.
Want to ditch your itinerary and spend a couple of hours exploring a library instead? You got it. There’s literally no one around to judge you.
Had enough of socializing at the bar? Head up to your room and lounge in your bathtub instead.
When you’re traveling solo, you decide your travel plans. Your itinerary is only full of things you want to do, and there’s no one around to question your authority.
So when loneliness decides to pay a visit, flip those thoughts around. Remind yourself of everything you get to do because you are intentionally, proudly, powerfully alone.
Coping with Feeling Lonely While Traveling Solo Starts With You
Solo travel, at its core, is about empowerment.
When traveling alone, you don’t need to wait for anyone to say yes to your crazy trip idea or convince someone to try a pasta-making class.
Everything is up to you.
And to reap the benefits of solo travel, you’ll need to take the leap and be okay with being uncomfortable – at least for a little while, until you find your flow.
The good news?
The more you travel solo, the easier it gets. You learn how to get things done without relying on other people, and give yourself the gift of independence in the process. Soon, you might even start booking your very own intentionally-solo trips without even waiting to see what your friends say.
So if the fear of feeling lonely while traveling solo has been stopping you from going places alone, ask yourself – is holding onto this fear worth the sacrifice? Would you rather stay at home and never go on that dream trip? Or is your goal of seeing the beaches in Bali worth stepping out of your comfort zone and confronting your fears?
Hope these tips help inspire you to face your fears of feeling lonely while traveling solo, and book that trip anyway! You’ve totally got this! Any tips you’d add to this list? Drop them below in the comments!
Read This Next:
- The Best First-Time Solo Female Travel Destinations
- How to Prepare for Your First Solo Trip
- 7 Tips to Ease into Your First Time Traveling Alone
- 10 Priceless Benefits of Traveling Alone
- Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know