Travelers often hear a question that goes something like this:
“You have such an exciting life – but don’t you get lonely being so far away from home?”
And many people mention this as a big reason why long-term travel isn’t for them – they would just feel too alone out there in the world.
So – do we get lonely?
A table for one in Cambodia
Of course we do! But we also felt lonely sometimes back home. You can be lonely abroad, in your hometown, around you family and best friends, or alone in a tiny hotel room. No lifestyle will leave you immune.
Kristin is an introvert who is perfectly happy to spend days alone (although she loves her friends, too). But Simon is definitely a very social person who needs a good group of friends to be happy.
Does that mean only Kristin is suited for long-term travel? Absolutely not! It doesn’t matter which personality you have – you can create the life you want when you’re traveling.
In other words, it’s definitely possible to have a solo trip that stays solo if you are in the mood for quiet introspection (although most solo travelers we’ve met claim they have less alone time abroad than they did back home).
It’s also possible to make friends right away and share your adventures with them. Boarding the plane alone doesn’t mean staying alone for the duration of your trip.
We’ve made some of the best friends we could ever ask for while traveling and living in foreign lands. We also met each other!
Traveling together is rarely lonely!
The truth is you are much more likely to find travel companions (romantic or platonic) somewhere out in the world, already traveling – not at home. You just have to go!
So how will you meet these friends abroad? There are many ways:
– Hostels are typically very social environments where solo travelers come together, even if you book a private room instead of a dorm.
– Tours can also be a place to meet new people.
– If tours aren’t your thing, try classes or clubs instead. (Hiking groups, book clubs, and yoga classes can be found in many major cities.)
– If you are willing to work or volunteer during your trip, you’ll connect with the rest of your team.
– You can sign up for several travel websites and apps that connect travelers looking to meet new people.
– There are also many Facebook groups for travelers or expats.
– Tandem language exchanges can connect you with locals who want to practice their English.
– If you’re single, some people have actually made good friends while traveling thanks to Tinder or other dating apps.
– Sometimes fate can step in! We’ve made friends on planes, waiting in an auditorium, sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying a community hot tub, and lying on a beach.
This list isn’t exhaustive, so just know there are always ways to meet people. You don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to be.
But, unfortunately, no matter how many friends you make, you will still be lonely from time to time.
Maybe sometimes you’ll feel a little homesick. Remember that your friends and family will always be on the other end of the phone and will always be excited to see you when you return home. You haven’t lost anyone. The people who really care about you will never treat you differently, even if you aren’t around as much. You’ll pick up right where you left off.
Also remember that sometimes you’ll have an easier time creating close bonds than others. Occasionally you’ll meet people right away who you instantly click with, but most friendships take a bit of time. If you’re planning to stay in one place for awhile, don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a best friend right away. Enjoy your new acquaintances. Keep an open mind about everyone. Let it happen naturally.
What has been your experience finding friends abroad? Have you ever experienced loneliness on a trip? How did you handle it?
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