In general, being a solo traveler, you are never truly ever alone. Most hostels you go to, you will meet many other solo travelers and do activities with them, occasionally even ending up with people for the next few cities you go. No matter what, though, you will always say goodbye. There is never the consistency you are used to at home. Sometimes it can give you a sense of loneliness.
Being alone is not the lonely part for me. Saying goodbye so quickly to so many people is what gets draining. After a while I don’t want to meet anymore people. There are times I will go to a place and purposely avoid others because I don’t want to say goodbye. So I remain the lonely traveler, being content with my own company.
I think spending time alone can be very healthy for you, but I think spending too much time alone is not. Meeting new people at the hostels and getting to share your experiences with other people makes your trip that much more fun and exciting. Even if you don’t get them on Facebook, or will never see them again, the memory will always be in your mind of the people you got these unforgettable moments with.
There are times when you go to a hostel, and you really are the only one there. This happened to me in Siem Reap. I welcomed the alone time with open arms. When you are alone, you tend to notice your surroundings far more than you do when you are with other people. Surrounded by friends makes one less open and aware of the day to day cultural lives of locals that also surround you. The experience tends to be far more authentic and eye opening observing others rather than the small group you are with.
In watching others, you learn more about them. I think in learning more about others, you learn far more about yourself. The more I see and experience, the less I understand about the world we live in. I don’t understand humanity in the slightest. The joy. The anger. The sadness. The Frusteration. It’s so weird to watch, knowing that I myself do the same types of things and go through the same types of pain. We are all so different, yet so terribly and undoubtedly alike.
I spent about 4 days of being completely alone, aside from talking to the occasional local. I began to feel a homesickness I had never experienced traveling. I had over a month left of my travels and I felt as though I was done?
What? Why was I feeling this? I was doing what most people only dreamed of. I was making my own dreams reality! And all of a sudden I started feeling alone and homesick?
Traveler burnout. Only a thing I had read about, and scoffed at. I would never feel this, so I thought.
After being alone for a while, I started to feel a little more like my adventurous self, until Phnom Penh, I had gotten food poisoning. I was vomiting all night long and had diarrhea for over 5 days. At this point I was done. Finished. I just wanted to be in my own bed. I wanted to be able to go downstairs and get water out of my filter, drink tea, eat soup, but here I was, stuck on the 5th floor of a hostel, alone, exhausted, and sick to my stomach.
4 more weeks of this. I didn’t know if I could do it. I felt so down and made myself feel even more down thinking about the fact that I felt down. Travel is supposed to be exhilarating. Always! Like it had been for me before.
The truth is travel is not always as glamorous as it seems. It can be dirty and exhausting and challenging. Eventually you begin to miss the littlest things about life back at home.
Having a kitchen for one. Oh how I miss having a kitchen I can cook in, or cupboards full of food I can snack on. I am so sick of restaurant food. The thought of it makes me nauseous.
Was I ever going to get past this? Out of this damn slump?
The answer is yes. Absolutely. I am getting out of it now.
There are times that traveling does take its toll. Eventually, though, you remember why you started traveling in the first place. Adventure, knowledge, fun, experience. I had about a week of relapse, but I came out the other end okay.
It’s okay to miss home. I miss my parents. My sisters. My husband.
As much as I miss all that, somewhere along the way I remembered that I am a lonely traveler. But I am never alone. I am with myself. And if I am not enjoying my time alone, then I am not in good company. I made a choice to change my mindset. I made a choice to fill myself with love and passion again for the unknown.
I am ready to grasp this adventure with full intensity, as I always have.
My consistently happy mindset had faltered, but I really pushed mentally and made a conscious decision to become happiness again. I broke down that wall of helplessness and brought back that love induced state for all sights and experiences I was having.
Being the lonely traveler made me enjoy the company I was with. Myself. I went through some tough thoughts, but came out on top, better than ever. Stronger than ever. More self aware than I have ever been in the past.
At some point, I realized who was having these adventures. Whose eyes were seeing all the beauty. Whose feet were walking the path. Whose thoughts were in my head.
It is me.