Many first-time solo travellers worry that they will feel lonely during their trip. As someone who has traveled solo more times than I can remember, I want to assure you that travelling solo is not lonely, even for introverts like me.
An interesting rule of thumb is that the less developed or the more foreign the country, and hence the more difficult it is to travel around, the easier it is to strike friendships with other travellers. Arriving in India for example, independent travellers bond before they even leave the airport!
I would argue that staying alone while travelling solo is actually harder than meeting people. Here is what you would have to do to make pretty sure you stay alone.
10 ways to stay alone
1. Book a room in a boring big-chain hotel used mostly by business travellers. Avoid hostels or small guesthouses filled with backpackers at all costs. Do not use AirBnB. The richer and busier the people, the more they will leave you alone.
2. Eat at a small table in a remote corner of a restaurant, and never ever sit at a bar, even a sushi bar. Make sure to keep your eyes down at all times. Pretend to be engrossed in a book or your electronic device. Look unapproachable. If the restaurant is empty, all the better.
3. Do not make eye contact or smile to anyone, especially other solo travellers.
4. If somebody talks to you, pretend you don’t speak their language (even if you do). If it’s a language you speak but are not perfectly comfortable in, the lie won’t feel as bad.
5. When somebody sits next to you in a bus or train, sneeze or cough loudly hoping they will get scared and move away.
6. Wear old dirty clothes and no deodorant. Lift your arms as often as possible to display the sweat stains.
7. Wear your sunglasses indoors
8. Do not join any organized activities, day trips, or classes.
9. Do not stop anyone on the street to ask for information. If someone asks you, keep walking.
10. Do not spend time in any bar, pub or nightclub. Drunk people lose their inhibitions and tend not to notice non-verbal cues.
If these techniques don’t work and people still talk to you, you’re either amazingly good looking or everybody else is drunk. Re-read #10.
If, on the other hand, you want to meet people, do the exact opposite from these tips! You may want to be careful with #10 though, especially if you’re a woman. But if you’ve done the reverse of #1 to #9, you’ve probably already met people with whom to go out at night.
In summary, it is pretty much up to you how much or how little company you have on a solo trip. You can arrange it so it’s just you and your thoughts for days on end, or you can spend most of your time with other people.
So go have fun and don’t worry so much. 🙂