There are a multitude of perils of long-term travel. Though I get more than my fair share of comments along the lines of “wow, your life must be great” when I tell people that I travel full-time, it has its ups and downs just like any life choice.
Although I do hear that line a good deal, there is another….
Do you ever get lonely?
That is perhaps the single question I have been asked the most often during my more than three years on the road.
I do think it is a rare breed of people that enjoy full-time travel. I look around the travel blogosphere and actually don’t see that many of us, especially solo travelers (I think there is a different dynamic with the long-term traveling couples). I also am not talking about living as an expat — moving to one location for an extended period of time.
What I am talking about is actual constant travel. Movement. No home base. On the road for 10+ months out of the year. Nomadic Matt has been doing it for over five years or and Gary Arndt just celebrated his fifth year anniversary.
But there aren’t too many of us out there in reality.
There are some that have been doing it for six months or maybe a year and a half, but when you roll over the three year mark, like I did last December, you realize this is your life.
And I love my life.
When I talk to people about my traveling, they usually have a very over romanticized notion of what it entails. When I explain how much I work (many more hours than I ever did as a lawyer), in order to keep earning enough money to keep on the road full-time, most people’s eyes sort of glaze over as if they really don’t even want to consider the working-part that goes into my lifestyle.
But what they do seem to immediately fixate on is that I travel solo — and they want to know how I avoid getting lonely.
Simply put, I don’t avoid it. I embrace it. It is actually one of the parts of my life that I enjoy the most.
I love being alone.
Being alone is the thing that recharges my personal batteries. Although I love hanging out with friends, both new and old (check out the video from Kash’s birthday party for an example), it tends to wear me out over time. Perhaps it is a function of my ever-increasing age, but I tend to need less social interaction than most people I know.
I like going to a cafe and eating alone. I like going to a bar with my Kindle and drinking alone. I like sitting in a hostel community room watching a movie on my computer alone. I like long bus rides, listening to my iPod, alone.
Lonely doesn’t bother me in the least.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I love my current lifestyle, because if you are going to do any sort of long-term solo travel, you are going to have long bouts of being by yourself. Those provide some of the best times to think and reflect.
I am supremely comfortable in my own skin. And in my own company.
So while I do think the answer to that oft-asked question is something you should consider long and hard before you give long-term solo travel out, I also don’t think it is something you should be afraid of in the last.
Get out there for a while by yourself — you will know yourself much, much better after a few weeks of solitude. And you might find that you enjoy living in your own skin more than you ever thought you did before.