Last year June, I embarked on a month-long solo trip to Japan. I booked a flight to Tokyo, reserved a few nights in a hostel, and planned to figure out the rest when I got there — after all, everything was up to me.
It was a thrilling thought: I was exploring a foreign country entirely on my own, with no one else’s schedule, wants, or needs to consider. I wandered the buzzing streets of Tokyo. I ate freshly made sushi at an old Japanese restaurant and bought a fanny pack at the minimalist brand Muji. But a day or two later, shivering under the weak afternoon sun and surrounded by groups snapping photos, it hit me: I was really, truly alone in a place where I knew no one. And even though I’d chosen to come there, I was lonely.
Almost as soon as I recognized my own loneliness, I was disappointed by it. Feeling this way seemed at odds with the spirit of a solo adventure. What I didn’t know then — but have since come to learn — is that even if you genuinely enjoy traveling by yourself (and I do), you won’t necessarily love every single minute of it. In addition to that burst of quiet joy, you feel watching a breathtaking sunset in solitude or the rush of pride you get from successfully navigating a new transit system, you’ll probably have a few moments when you’re tired of having no one but yourself for company.
For most of us, a little loneliness is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip. Here are a few ways to deal with it.
🥂 Give yourself permission to feel lonely 🥅 Stay somewhere social: Hostel 🤼♂️ Put yourself out there: approach people 🏹 Become a regular (same bar) ⛹🏻♀️ Schedule some organized activities 🏂 Share some experiences 🍽 Get away from touristy areas