Solo Travel and the Issue of Loneliness

Don't worry --- I have a great office to work from almost every day Don't worry --- I have a great office to work from almost every day
I know what you are thinking -- I know what you are thinking -- "how could this guy have problems meeting people??!!"
Ummmm, though the lyrics are about drinking alone... Ummmm, though the lyrics are about drinking alone...

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.

michael hodson singing Karaoke

Ummmm, though the lyrics are about drinking alone…

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.

collage funny shots michael hodson

I know what you are thinking — “people must flock to meet someone this suave and debonair”

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.

mike hodson working computer new zealand hostel

Don’t worry — I have a great office to work from almost every day

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.

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

87 Responses to “Solo Travel and the Issue of Loneliness” Subscribe

  1. Christine March 20, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    While I definitely prefer expat life to traveling full-time, I spent the past three months traveling on my own in SE Asia and realized just how much I preferred my own company. Would much rather go to a restaurant or beach by myself (and with my Kindle and iPod) than have to force a conversation with people I just met–even if I like them! Everyone is always on me to go out and “make friends”–but I’m usually perfectly happy by myself.

  2. Arianwen March 20, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    I think if you travel solo it forces you to be more sociable so you end up feeling less lonely than if you travelled with friends. Then again, I haven’t crossed the Pacific on a freighter…
    Arianwen recently posted..La Fortuna: horsing around

    • Loz in Transit April 12, 2013 at 1:13 am #

      I definitely think being alone gives you more flexibility. Apart from forcing you into situations to combat the solitude, its a default state of freedom.
      You can easily slot yourself into existing groups of of 2 or 3 or even assemble a team of solo travelers. I definitely think its a state of mind. You have to be self starting for the most part. I can see how people would be scared of going too fa inward if they got too lonely. For my style of travel which is varied for the most part, traveling solo suits me best.
      Loz in Transit recently posted..Coolspotting in Melbourne: “Melbournelandia” Vegan eats, Punk Rock and Comedy

  3. Ayngelina March 20, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I have talked to a couple of people about this but it seems anecdotally that men have an easier time with it than women.

    I thought I liked being alone but after 18 months I kinda got tired of it. I still need alone time but I like the roots I have back at home and the people who check in during the week.

    I’ll still travel solo from time to time but never long-term again.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Pigging out in Playa del Carmen

  4. Lisa @chickybus March 20, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I also travel solo and love it. I find that it’s perfect for me because I can interact with people if I feel like it and keep to myself if I’m not in the mood. I see things through my own filter, not someone else’s. Also, I tend to meet more locals when I’m on my own, which is important to me.

    I’ve been on a few solo trips where I’ve actually needed space at various moments–due to meeting so many people. I think it’s a real misconception that solo travel equals lonely travel. More people should get out there and try it. If they do, I think they’ll like it!

  5. Dave March 20, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I think I’ve reached the sunset of my solo travel days.

    15 months of it on my RTW trip was more than I’ll ever do again. Sometimes I think back to that period of my life and realize just how determined I was to have taken that trip.

    I agree it’s a rare breed that can go for so long. As long as you enjoy it, more power to you. I really enjoyed it at the time, but the irony in having built a career on being able to travel anywhere, at any time, is that I now find myself at a point in my life where I want to stay put, build relationships, and well, maybe some day find a Mrs. Rtwdave.
    Dave recently posted..Top 10 Things to Do in Paris

  6. Pamela March 20, 2012 at 11:16 am #

    I’m not taveling full time…yet…but I do travel a lot by myself and I completely understand why you enjoy it. Sometimes I want company for my travels, but there can be added stress traveling with them. Over-all I enjoy solo travel more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Edna March 20, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    I don’t quite qualify in the “solo travel” category you described as I’ve always been an expat, but I still took quite a few solo trips in my time, and I never really felt lonely. I always knew I could easily meet someone in the hostel or out on the town — and even when I was by myself, I never felt truly “alone” because I’d always be interacting with people on twitter and other social media. I think if I ever had to travel full-time without the internet though, supreme loneliness would kick in pretty quickly.

  8. Geogypsy March 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    I enjoy my own company and quite frequently solo travel. Yes, I often hear that question, especially as a woman traveler. I think a lot of people just don’t want to get to know themselves. And traveling solo offers more opportunities to interact with others, when desired. I’d really feel alone without my internet after maybe a week or so.

  9. Giulia March 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I travel solo because I love being alone too :) It gives me all the freedom I need, and it doesn’t mean I can’t spend time with people. I often end up in big crowds but I love the idea that I can go back to my own space anytime I want… I am actually missing this a lot now that I haven’t had a moment of solitude for almost 4 months! Ugh.
    Giulia recently posted..Living in Breuil-Cervinia, part 2: Work, Scenery

  10. Stacey March 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Good on you for going so long by yourself. I’m an expat at the moment, and reading these kind of posts make me more determined to do a decent amount of traveling by myself. I used to be one of those girls who would go “I need to go to the bathroom…anyone else wanna come?” And now I’m determined to travel SE Asia by myself within the next two years.
    I think it takes awhile to feel comfortable enough in your own skin to travel alone, and everyone matures at different stages. I do think that guys have it a little easier than girls, since most of us are such gabbers lol.
    Stacey recently posted..Driving in the United States

  11. Tim Raveling March 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    I agree, Michael! And that’s not even mentioning all the advantages — forcing you to learn languages, for example, or the likelihood of being invited places a group or even a couple never would, the ease of meeting new people; the list goes on.

    And yeah, sometimes it’s nice just to spend a week or three entirely on your own, reading and writing in cafes.

  12. Mikeachim March 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I think there’s a misconception in the heads of some people when they hear the word “Alone”. It gets equated with “lonely”. But they’re two very different things. All the ‘alone’ words & phrases (solitary, all by myself, etc.) have a kind of background bias to them – an unspoken suggestion of misery. And that’s mostly wrong. Not always, but mostly.

    We all need aloneness, to get our heads straightened out and listen to & ponder our deepest thoughts & needs. We *need* it. And that’s one of the gifts of travel – the opportunity to do that, to reconnect with ourselves at an unusually deep level. And that’s part of the appeal of it, for me.

    Travel = introspection = aloneness = self-honesty. All good stuff, in my book.

    But I have to add: after meeting folk in TBU, yourself included, and immediately feeling comfortable in their presence and knowing that I’ll see them all again at some point…that was the opposite of lonely. So if that’s travel blogging, I’m mostly definitely signed up. ;)

    • Kim Mance October 12, 2012 at 3:36 am #

      I blame Lonely Planet.

      Also: I’m sorry that meeting me in person didn’t make you feel comfortable. Was it all the drinking and sarcasm??
      Kim Mance recently posted..Smug vs. Smugger – the 2012 Vice Presidential debates

      • Michael Hodson October 17, 2012 at 6:17 am #

        There is never too much drinking or sarcasm!

  13. Mikeachim March 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    I think there’s a misconception in the heads of some people when they hear the word “Alone”. It gets equated with “lonely”. But they’re two very different things. All the ‘alone’ words & phrases (solitary, all by myself, etc.) have a kind of background bias to them – an unspoken suggestion of misery. And that’s mostly wrong. Not always, but mostly.

    We all need aloneness, to get our heads straightened out and listen to & ponder our deepest thoughts & needs. We *need* it. And that’s one of the gifts of travel – the opportunity to do that, to reconnect with ourselves at an unusually deep level. And that’s part of the appeal of it, for me.

    Travel = introspection = aloneness = self-honesty. All good stuff, in my book.

    But I have to add: after meeting folk in Berlin, yourself included, and immediately feeling comfortable in their presence and knowing that I’ll see them all again at some point…that was the opposite of lonely. So if that’s travel blogging, I’m mostly definitely signed up. ;)

  14. my. March 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Haha! I totally asked you the “Do you ever get lonely?” question when we met.

    I very much need and want alone time too, but I’m starting to think that traveling solo and long-term is not the way to go for me. We’ll see. (I owe you an email for some catching up.)

    I commend you and those few others who have been on the road for so long. A rare breed indeed. — Michelle
    my. recently posted..Slow Cooking Food Class at Charlie Palmer, Costa Mesa

  15. Aaron @ Aaron's Worldwide Adventures March 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Call me strange, but I too like the solitude. And I absolutely love traveling alone, though my longest stint has been 3 months, a far cry from what you’ve done. For me, it’s an incredible opportunity for personal growth. You perhaps said it best in that its a wonderful way to get to truly know yourself.
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..Conquering Sunrise at Masada

  16. Katie March 21, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    Great post. I also enjoy being alone and I think a lot of people don’t understand that. When I wrote about hitting a wall on my trip back in December and I mentioned missing a social life, everyone started suggesting all these different ways for me to meet people. But what I really was missing was my social life back home – interacting with the people who really know me and support me.

    I have enjoyed all the alone time on my trip. I often find meeting new people a little exhausting, especially when it quickly becomes clear that the interaction is fleeting and lacks substance. Sure, every now and then you meet someone you just click with and can develop a strong friendship, but more often than not I find myself making polite small talk waiting for the moment when I can escape back to my room. :)

    And whomever commented above that there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely is exactly right. I have felt the most lonely on this trip at times when I have been surrounded by others.

  17. Denise March 21, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I think this is a very interesting article, and it just goes to show that everyone is different. I travel as a couple, and even like this, I don’t like long term travel as it becomes too overwhelming. I’ll avoid solo travel like the plague, but it’s not because I get lonely. It’s simply that for me, travelling alone just isn’t fun or as rewarding, but that’s just my opinion. In my everyday life, I actually looooovveee being alone.

  18. Jeff March 21, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I just passed the 3 year traveling mark so I guess I am one of that small group. And, I agree completely with the idea that alone and lonely are completely different concepts. I also think that many people don’t understand fully what introvert and extrovert mean or that there is a sliding scale for that aspect of personality. You can definitely need alone time and still be very sociable. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Next time you break away for a read on the Kindle (love mine as well), check out this interesting article: Caring for Your Introvert (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/)
    Jeff recently posted..Travel Video: Traditional Dance in Perú

  19. Nora March 21, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    I’ve had the interesting fortune to have traveled both alone and with a partner over the last five years of full-time travel. (My first 3 years was with a partner, and the last two have been solo).

    And while each method of traveling has been very rewarding in its own rite, I’ve really enjoyed the total freedom and introspection of solo travel. On the road, solo travel can be both freeing and empowering.

    In fact, when I’m surrounded by people for too long (in a communal volunteer – or even a partner – scenario), I go a little batty, and I really need my own space and time to “decompress”.

    Besides which, I echo Mikeachim’s sentiment that in the travel blogging world, you’re never very far from an understanding friend (even if that friend is online) who you’ll run into….somewhere….sometime….

  20. Jeff Dobbins March 21, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    As a fellow solo traveler (although on far too brief jaunts), I loved this. The inevitable soul searching is always enlightening. And I’m usually surprised at how little friends at home are interested in anything more than a 60-second recap of my travels.

  21. Julia March 21, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I am more the expat type myself, not a RTW traveler. And as a blogger, I definitely know how many hours go into being able to make a blog profitable (not yet for me…). Rock on, just keep doing your thing!
    Julia recently posted..It’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week!

  22. MaDhares March 22, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I never travel alone in other places where I know I am not familiar with…But I am sure a lot of people do it and still they enjoy it…
    MaDhares recently posted..Remedies For Gout

  23. PrudenceLee March 22, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Someone who doesn’t feel loneliness is not human. But I can’t be sure I’ll enjoy travelling solo. It’s not me! I can’t do it. I’m glad to see people who have the courage to travel alone.
    PrudenceLee recently posted..Dating Tips for Men

  24. Caroline72 March 22, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I don’t want to travel alone .But when you are alone you can be more sociable and you can meet a person that can help you.and you can’t feel the loneliness. so try to travel alone to conquer the fear.
    Caroline72 recently posted..Meet Jane B, Our Biggest HCG Loser, Read one woman’s story of how she went for overweight and little self esteem, to feeling fabulous and looking great! Read her story now….

  25. Laurence March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    I’ve never really tried to travel alone, I always end up with a friend or partner. I don’t know if it would bother me or not. I used to live alone, and really enjoyed that. The great thing is that you are comfortable doing it, and have found a way to do what you love :) Keep going!
    Laurence recently posted..Six weeks in Australia – an itinerary from Sydney

  26. Austin-Lehman Adventures March 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I would agree that the solo traveler is a different breed. Takes a lot of self confidence to tackle such an adventure on you own. There is something about being around other people when you need to problem solve. I have definitely had moments traveling however when I wish I could ditch my travel buddy and continue on solo. I have however been on trips where my travel buddy and I traded with another couple and I continued on with the other traveller. Made for a fun new dynamic. Check out a solo adventure tour http://www.austinlehman.com/packages/singles/index-pages-191.php. This way you can travel solo, but your also in a group of other travelers being introduced to local culture and local experiences. Keep up the good work.

  27. Angela March 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I’ve never tried long term travel solo (I’ve never tried long term travel…soon, I hope!) – but the majority of my short term traveling has been just me.

    I’ve got to admit, I do get lonely sometimes. Definitely not always; the vast majority of the time, I’m perfect on my own. But there are times where it does grind down on me because I’ve been in my head for just a little too long.

    Then I get over it.

  28. Mari March 23, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    Great post on the subject! I love the phrase ” comfortable in my own skin”. I feel most people are somewhat scared of what they might find in themselves and that’s why they tend to always seek company or blur their thinking with a lots of TV.

    And it is sometimes scary to be inside your own head, to listen to yourself. But like most things, It’s awesome when you get over the fear.

    Traveling alone has thought me so much about myself, I do think everyone should try it.

  29. JCMatt March 23, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I enjoy traveling solo because it forces me to be more social (which isn’t always easy for me). I have met quite a few interesting people that way. But, I enjoyed traveling much more when I had someone to share it with.

  30. Joshywashington March 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I think being married makes me more lonely when i am traveling without my wife as my loneliness is compounded by her loneliness for me.

    But really I get lonely in a room full of people, I think it is a cosmological constant of the human condition…

  31. jamie March 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    Very useful post. I will be pinning this.
    jamie recently posted..How to Visit Three Pagodas for Free in Dali, Yunnan, China

  32. Amanda March 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    I don’t travel full-time (and don’t know that I ever will), but I DO almost always travel solo. And, for the most part, I really enjoy traveling alone, too. Sometimes in the evenings I get lonely (I’m still not a huge fan of eating alone), but usually I’m perfectly happy on my own in a new place. I like being able to do what I want when I want, and to change my mind/plans at any point. Plus, when I’m alone, no one complains when I decide I have to plant myself in front of my computer for a few hours before bed to work on my blog. ;)

  33. Tushar March 25, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Depends person to person. I am a solo traveler never felt lonely because there is so much to learn during a journey but yes, tired of course few times and to refresh self I have to visit home to meet family to continue further journey.

  34. Christy March 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Being introverted, I absolutely need plenty of alone time to be happy and feel energized – so for me, being alone is a good thing rather than an origin of loneliness.

    But what I DO miss from traveling full time is not being close to good friends; as much as we have email and Skype, it’s just not the same as having a long conversation in person.

  35. nicole March 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    i really don’t like solo travel but when i read this article it enlightens my mind and give me ideas that sometimes need to travel alone to give myself a break …
    nicole recently posted..here

  36. Leslie March 26, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    They both have nice advantages. I have stayed free at a few Marriott hotels after paying to stay 8 – 10 times. We have also had many free airflights as a result of the American Airlines Advantage plan.
    Leslie recently posted..Secret Survey by Michael Fiore Review – Is it Good?

  37. Lisa | LLWorldTour March 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    I did 21 months of solo travel. I loved it. I also like eating alone. I like doing my photography alone and not worrying a companion is getting antsy while I want to wait for the perfect shot. I love the freedom and the openess to meet so many others..when i want to.
    But the beauty of it? You never hang around with someone long enough for them to annoy you like in ‘real’ life! ;)
    You get only the good side and then…adios! You are off to your next destination!
    Lisa | LLWorldTour recently posted..Nova Scotia: The South Shore

  38. Frances March 30, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    Just try to keep busy,and you won’t worry about feeling lonely. It sucks, but worrying and feeling bad about it won’t help. Try to find things you enjoy doing alone,and you will maybe be able to stop thinking about your lonliness. If all else fails, get a dog. Many people are content being alone.

    • Michael Hodson March 31, 2012 at 1:39 am #

      Although my good friends from The Road Forks travel with dogs, I really am not up for the logistics of that. But… I do miss having a dog, for sure.

  39. DestinationSavvy March 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    You hit the nail on the head. Great post!

  40. Jenna April 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    It’s nice that you shared your positive feelings about traveling alone. I think it’s important that people do things alone sometimes, if not often, because in the end we only have ourselves. I would cherish some alone time, by the way, because after having 2 kids, I rarely have a minute to myself.

  41. Lily April 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    As a solo traveler, I definitely have many moments when I’m happy to be on the road doing what I love, and being “solo” doesn’t bother me. I also need alone times to recharge my batteries. But I’ve also had lonely days and a couple of nights when I have wished I weren’t alone!! And I think it’s only normal along the way. But traveling alone per se is not a “lonely” thing. It becomes one when you settle in one place and travel long-term. :-)

  42. Afican Safaris May 9, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    travellng alone gives one the flexibly to venture into regions that s/he woud not have gone to o tried out an adventure the others would not have done.

  43. Derek J. Maak June 16, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Man, I hear ya. I too need much less social interaction than most people. I can stay at home every night and it never bothers me. I can go out fly fishing alone and it doesn’t bother me. And yet there are people who are completely opposite and can’t stand 5 minutes without someone else being there. Perhaps I just like being able to think and clear my mind without interruption.

    • Derek June 16, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      Oh, and I work alone too basically running a prefab shop by myself. Co-workers can’t understand how I can do that either, but doesn’t bother me a bit.
      Derek recently posted..Can I Text Him First Or Should He Make The First Contact?

    • Michael Hodson July 25, 2012 at 3:46 am #

      I go back and forth with needing human interaction. Sometimes though… keep people away from me!

  44. Penny June 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    I travel alone and I am also often asked this question. I agree with most of the comments I’ve read here. You can be alone as much or as little as you want. One of the reasons I travel alone is like Lisa@chickybus, you meet more locals. You seen things through your own perspective and not someone elses. When you want to change plans at the last minute, you can, and no ones going to be mad at you.
    But I do try to have someone to meet for lunch or dinner at least every other day because to me this is part of traveling, meeting new people and getting new perspectives.

  45. Kyle Goes Global August 23, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Great write up! I’m about to embark on an open ended, solo trip myself! I’m actually looking forward to the long travel days as both an adventure, but to recharge and simply reflect on the glory of extended travel! Thanks for sharing your confidence in your travels, I can’t wait to get started!

  46. Rob September 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    I can see how being an introvert on the road would be really helpful when it comes to being a full-time traveler. I’ve been on the road since May, working my way around Europe as a freelancer writer. It wasn’t actually until this trip that I realized how ambiverted I am.

    I don’t mean ambiverted as in I am totally comfortable either with people or without them. I mean I need a lot of time to myself AND I need a lot of time interacting with people. Otherwise, I start to go crazy—and, worse, lose motivation to explore the area, do my work, and otherwise live my life.

    I’ve developed a few good strategies for dealing with the loneliness (which I definitely struggle with), but the biggest shift for me has been in my willingness to engage with people who I don’t know. At first, it was especially intimidating when I knew the odds of their speaking English fluently was fairly slim. Now, I enjoy a lot of social time with people from everywhere. That socializing may well be my favorite part of my trip.
    Rob recently posted..Metaphor Exercise 1: Metaphor Madlibs

  47. Lainie Liberti September 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I loved this post for so many reasons. I identify with being a solo travler in some respects and in others I don’t. I am single, meaning I don’t have a partner, but I do have the love of my life with me, my son. However the same holds true. Being comfortable in one’s own skin goes a long way, especially in social situations, and doubly in situations when when no one else is around. Loneliness comes in waves for me, but luckily in this world of online community, I never feel completely alone. Thanks for articulating this complex issue so eloquently.

  48. Dustin Main October 10, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Coming up on my 3 year mark myself, and I’ve been finding myself wondering if it is best to clamp down and stay in a place for at least a month or two at a time. It feels good when the people at the store or restaurant down the street know you by name.
    Dustin Main recently posted..Project Do It In a Dress: The Berg Lake Trail Part 1 – Canada

    • Michael Hodson October 17, 2012 at 6:24 am #

      I can manage about a month or so in certain places, but longer is tough on me still.

  49. Kim Mance October 12, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    If you don’t love yourself and being alone, how could you ever fully appreciate Jerry Lee Lewis or Mick Jagger?

    That’s the question that always plagues my mind.

    Kidding.

    And I relate. Though sometimes it’s nice to have “safe” (non-boring/soul-sucking) people around.

  50. Jane October 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Being alone is pretty awesome sometimes, but it would take some getting used to doing it so often. Did you have troubles initially, or did it just happen naturally from the get go?
    Jane recently posted..Our Big Maritimes Road Trip: Fundy Coastal Drive

  51. Mariella October 18, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Ha, even I got asked that, and I was only out there for 5 months. I never really understood the question either. I agree with what’s been said in the comments before: Alone is not the same thing as lonely. Personally I enjoy alone. I don’t enjoy lonely so much, to me lonely means “alone when I don’t want to be alone”. That happened to me maybe once or twice in 5 months. Alone happened to me a lot and it was marvellous.
    Mariella recently posted..Bearpit Karaoke – Mauerpark on a Sunday

  52. Heidi October 22, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    I am about 6 weeks into to a 12 month (maybe more) solo trip and I was discussing yesterday how a lot of people at home think long term travel is running away, but you really can’t run away from yourself at all where you have to spend so much time in your own company.

    I find I mostly meet people, and like you say, I’m happy in my own company when I don’t.

  53. Steven October 25, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    So what do you think and reflect about during all that alone time? And I agree with Mikeachim, that “alone” doesn’t always mean “lonely”.

    • Michael Hodson October 28, 2012 at 6:33 am #

      I agree. I am rarely lonely. That’s what makes solo enjoyable to me.

  54. Gigi November 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I’m with Nora. I love the introspection of being alone. When I’m back in Denver visiting friends or back on the East Coast of the US visiting family, I find that I get really overwhelmed. There is just so much to do, so many people to see. Seeing people and doing social things becomes something to check off a list instead of a fun, spontaneous act.

    Plus, I find that I’m not always alone. Granted, I travel slowly (usually about a month in each place), but I find that it’s easy to make friends on the road. Second only to college, travel opens people up to new friends and ideas.

    Cheers!
    Gigi recently posted..This Month in Links: Call Me Maybe

    • Gigi November 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Plus, I’m not 100% alone. I travel with my dog, so there’s always something fuzzy I can snuggle if I want. :)
      Gigi recently posted..This Month in Links: Call Me Maybe

  55. Laura November 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Great post! I totally agree with you, I love being alone too. A lot of my friends do not understand it. But I think its much better to embrace being alone than being afraid like most people are. I think thats why I became so in love with travel and meeting new people along the way.

  56. Ed Graham November 20, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    This is one of my favorite posts from any blog. Being “alone” doesn’t necessarily mean being “lonely”. I’ve traveled with friends and I’ve traveled alone and each offers it’s own unique and very different experience… And sometimes being alone exploring a foreign country is much less lonely than being in a crowded room back home, full of worker bees all wanting to talk about the same mundane things!

  57. May November 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Hi the lucky one.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog today. I am so happy I stumbled upon it.
    As much as I believe you have said you have circled the earth, I am so sorry that I didn’t find your writing about my country, Indonesia.
    I didn’t mean to brag, but Indonesia covers almost half of the southeast asia itself and I’m wondering why you never visit it. Indonesia is so gorgeously breathtakingly beautiful and I am so looking forward for you to make a writing about it.

    =)

    Cheers!
    May recently posted..10 Reason why I love Boracay

  58. Kristin Addis December 8, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    I need to get there. I have a really hard time being alone and embarking on my nomadic lifestyle was supposed to help me become more comfortable with it. 2 months in and I’m not there yet…but one day :)

    • Michael Hodson December 9, 2012 at 3:19 am #

      I think that solo travel certainly isn’t for everyone, but even those of us that love it need some time to adjust to it. Give it some time and see how you feel about it a little further down the road. Bottom line… have fun!

  59. brandy bell December 23, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    excellent topic, Michael! I’ve found there’s no place like the road to show you sides of yourself you’ve not seen…. discovering these new worlds can often be a great way of spending time- how is there any time to be lonely when there’s so much to learn about ourselves?
    brandy bell recently posted..Me Travel Pretty One Day

  60. Natalie T. December 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    I don’t know if traveling solo as you describe is a lifestyle that most people can keep up with consistently for over 5 years. I admire travelers like you, Gary and Matt that do it but I think the loneliness does creep in after a while, especially for women who may want to settle down, get married and have children (not saying that this isn’t true for men also). I traveled for three months solo and I never felt more alive. Even at home, I’m alone –eating at restaurants, going to cafes, exploring–most of the time. There’s also the issue of money –can one maintain a business for so long on the road? how does one go about doing it? I think that takes an entrepreneurial mindset that a lot of people don’t have too. That said, for some it can be really rewarding if they work their butts off. I could go on but I think it’s a question of lifestyle, strengths and weaknesses. I definitely had my loneliness melt downs but they made me stronger. You really do have to be your own best friend if traveling solo is the name of the game.

  61. Britany January 8, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I just started traveling solo so I might be speaking to soon, but so far I really love it. Its great to not have to compromise on what you want to do with your days and when you do meet people to hang out with, you feel less bound to their schedules than you would to someone that’s traveling with you. If I want the company of others, I can find it, and if I don’t, I don’t.
    Britany recently posted..Why I Bailed on Bogota

  62. Wil January 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    I used to avoid doing things alone but then realized I’d rather be alone doing something then have company doing nothing. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time alone (surrounded by people but still alone) and I’ve gained both independence and confidence in myself. I’m now planning an extended solo trip 9,000 miles away from home. I’m excited and terrified but I know I can handle it.
    Wil recently posted..Make Money Traveling – Earn Anywhere

  63. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) January 24, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Hey Michael —
    Glad to hear you don’t feel lonely while on the road. The lonliness I actually think I could deal with, but the constant travel … that would really get to me. I could maybe do it for a year, but no more than that, so I have definite respect for those who can. It’s certainly not as glamorous as people seem to assume it is. We’re living as expats in China for the next year and a half and I find that even to be difficult as we’re away from our friends and our home. It’s definitely frequent travel for us here throughout Asia, but not constant. This move has helped me realize that constant travel is not for me, so I’m glad we took this step before doing something like leaving it all behind to do a RTW trip. For me, I need to go home and be there for awhile, recharge, and then grow restless, ready for that next adventure.
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Our favorite images from our Central American adventure

  64. Murissa @TheWanderfullTraveler January 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I am currently planning a trip to France, by no means long term, and it is looks like I’ll be going it alone. It has been one of my dreams for a long time and it might prove to be a great thing to go it alone. I am a bit worried about the loneliness but then again I’ll get to do all the things I’ve wanted to in Paris without any protest.

    My dad on the other hand keeps reminding me of the terrible movie called Taken and despite being 26 he’s worried which might prove to be my biggest hurdle going it alone.

    This sunday I am hosting a giveaway for my #WTFrance2013 trip where readers help me plan my trip. I’d really appreciate some advice and your participation!
    Murissa @TheWanderfullTraveler recently posted..Winter Blues & Shades of Grey

  65. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans February 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    While I enjoy my alone time too, I have never traveled alone. Ever. I’ve moved out-of-state alone, but I’ve never taken a trip for pleasure alone. Not because I’m afraid to be alone, but when traveling, I like to share the experience with other people. Still, solo travel is probably something I should put on my to do list just to have the experience.
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Cutting Costs: AirBnB

  66. Joel February 28, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    I love people and I love being social so meeting new people along the way is one of the best parts. But I’m like you. I have never really gotten lonely on the road. Whether it’s hopping online, sitting at a cafe, reading a book or watching a movie, I relish time on my own to do the things I like to do.

    Well, there was that ONE time when I woke up in a hospital bed after surgery. Some company would have been nice that week!
    Joel recently posted..Breaking Bad

  67. OCDemon April 28, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    It’s weird how extroverts think extroversion is “normal” while introverts are quite aware of the duality. I like to counter with “wait, you’re so boring you can’t stand your own company?” I mean, I don’t actually say it, but…

  68. Bastiaan May 13, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    Hello, nice article about loneliness. I can relate to what you are saying. I have been traveling alone for a year in Asia and I absolutely loved every bit of it. Especially the long bus rides with my mp3 player playing my favorite music. It makes me feel i’m one with the universe (sound a bit happy hippie like but it’s a good way to describe it) and I feel a great joy inside.

    I like your blog and I’ll subscribe to your newsfeed!

    Cheers Bastiaan

    • Michael Hodson May 13, 2013 at 12:54 am #

      Thanks so much! Glad you liked it.

  69. Pete R. June 11, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Awesome post. I’ve recently been starting on this very path, traveling alone and I gotta say, I’m loving it. It’s so much more fulfilling and the freedom of it is just something I have never experience before. Seeing the world the way you like with no compromise.

    Next week, I’ll continue my journey traveling alone to Indonesia. Hopefully I’ll be able to integrate travel to my routine more.

    Thanks for the fun read. :)
    Pete R. recently posted..The Worst Mistake Is To Think That You Are Alive

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Please join me in welcoming our newest contributing author at Go See Write: Eytan Levy of Snarky Nomad! You’d probably [...]

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