Monday, 4 March 2019

Dealing With Loneliness When Solo Travelling

If you have read my latest Weekly Recap post, then you will have picked up on the fact that I had a bad week in terms of solo travelling. A few weeks ago, I met up with a couple of friends from back home in Phuket. We had a great time; we went to a very bad cabaret show in the too touristy for my liking Phuket, went kayaking in the still touristy but more beautiful Koh Phi Phi and walked some rescue dogs in the barely touched by tourism Koh Lanta.

I was enjoying the relaxed vibes of idyllic Koh Lanta so much so that, after my friends headed to Bai, I decided to stay there a couple more nights on my own. I like being around people, but I love being on my own. I spent the next two days reading Harry Potter on the quiet beach, eating out at all the places I wanted to and going to bed early to watch Disney movies on Netflix. It was bliss.

Afterwards, I made my way to Krabi, ready to see new things and meet new people. And that’s where my solo travel tapestry started to unravel. I went to Krabi town, where there is not a lot to do except the night markets. Okay, fine, I thought, it’s only a couple of nights, maybe I will meet someone at the hostel to hang out with. 

No, it was one of the most unsocial hostels I have ever been to. I ended up doing what I often do when I get a little anxious, I started to retreat into myself. On the first day I made myself walk around and explore a little, I went to a beautiful temple and made friends with a beautiful cat (standard). But, by the second day, I lost motivation. I spent the day in bed and the longest conversation I had was with the hostel lady asking me if I was OK. Yes, I reassured her, I was just tired.

I was very close to full on wallowing and shutting myself up in that room for a few days, but I didn’t want that to happen. So, I booked a hostel on the other side of Krabi, one that was just a two-minute walk to the beach and looked like it had a big common space. Alas, it turned out to be just as unsocial as the previous hostel, but at least it had a beach nearby. I looked for a shaded spot each day and did a bit more reading. One of the only times I talked at this hostel was to tell a guy off for watching videos on his phone, without headphones, at 4 in the morning. 

Time to move on. I made my way to Koh Samui and stayed in two more hostels, and two more times they were unsocial. My tapestry was practically just a pile of threads by this point. I started to really doubt whether this whole solo travel idea was the right thing for me. I looked at my life back home through rose tinted spectacles. I missed my home, my friends and family, my ferrets, my bed…my empty bedroom with no strangers snoring continuously through the night or taking phone calls on loud speaker at 3am. 

I did not want to admit to anyone that my resolve to solo travel was wavering. I am a strong, independent woman, I told myself. If I admitted to anyone how I was feeling, that I was starting to think I couldn’t hack it, then I'd be embarrassed (one of my faults is worrying too much what other people think). So, I kept it to myself and spent days mulling things over, overthinking everything. Because I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about what I was feeling, it made me feel even more lonely and isolated.

Eventually, my luck changed. I told a friend what island I was travelling to next and she recommended a very sociable hostel there. I immediately booked four nights there and started looking forward to having fellow human beings to talk to. Within a few hours of arriving in the hippy and bohemian hostel, I was talking to a whole bunch of new people and heading out to a reggae bar for drinks. I felt so unbelievably relieved. I started to enjoy travelling again. I still had some doubts, but I felt like I could open up about them now, so I reached out to a couple of people. Talking things over made me feel better, and over the next few days my resolve to solo travel strengthened.

I am feeling a lot happier than I have felt in weeks about travelling. There is a small part of me that is still a bit worried (what if I hit more unsocial hostels) but I am more confident in my decision. I thought I would write about this week because at the time I felt like I was the only person struggling with solo travellers. I kept comparing myself to people online and thinking, wow, they’re just breezing through this, having the time of their lives, why do I feel like this? I know that’s not the case, it’s just how I felt. 

So, if you are a solo traveller who is feeling a little lost and lonely, know that you are not the only one. There’s no quick fix that will work for everyone, and only you will know whether you should continue your travels or go home or mix it up a bit. I recently met a girl who is 6 weeks into her Asia travels and has decided she is not enjoying it, so she is heading to Europe instead. For me, finding a good social hostel and meeting some good people was enough to put me back on my original track. Let me know if you’ve ever been through anything similar in the comments below. What did you do to get through it?

Find more of my travel posts here.


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