I had this really grand plan. I’d go to Bali and I’d find some lost piece of myself and be very Eat, Pray, Love and I would write a ton. And, well, all of this did happen and it was incredible and everything I wanted. I’m so impressed by myself that I could travel alone for a month. But, before I got to the amazing part, (and a few times in between) I suffered from what I can only call now as the traveling alone blues.
Upon arrival I was struck down with a killer case of anxiety and loneliness and thoughts of, “What have I done? Am I insane?” I couldn’t do this. Who was I kidding? Who booked these tickets? Who decided on this? For a day or two it went on like this. It took me half a day to make it from my bed to the daybed outside my villa (yes, let’s repeat that, the day bed outside my villa). But when you’re suffering it doesn’t matter how great things are. You can’t see more than a foot in front of you.
I eventually came out of it. And, yes crushing loneliness did revisit me from time to time. But, that’s part of the greatness of traveling alone. You choose to stir up the silt at the bottom of who you are. The hard stuff, is part of the reason you bought the ticket in the first place. So, it’s not about avoiding it. It’s about mitigating it and dealing with it, and yes, occasionally trying to forget about it.
One thing that really helps me is having a book, a really good book in terms of narrative. I don’t necessarily mean the smartest most well written thing on your shelf, I’m talking about the kind of thing you get lost in – drama, sex, romance, wizards, whatever. Getting lost in another world is a great way to curb your anxiety for an hour to recharge you.
Inch forward. Give yourself a goal. Often times traveling alone these little goals become a means of survival. I lived off Cliff Bars the first day that I’d stashed in my suit case because I didn’t know where to eat or how to eat and I was too over whelmed to figure it out. But, the second day, my mission was to feed myself and this begun my journey out into the uncharted world around me. A singular purpose can be everything. Once I got there every step was one I’d already taken. And pretty soon whatever had been holding me back wasn’t.
Give yourself ten minutes to fall apart. This is a life rule I have that I established when I moved to a new city alone one time. It’s important to feel the feelings but it’s very important to not let them run your life. Ten minutes and you can totally lose it, but then pull it together. Do something else. Take a shower. Get a drink. Read the book.
Use Hey! VINA. Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you are quarantined from social activities. It’s a wonderful time to meet new people, and hey, we’re worldwide now! If you aren’t matching with anyone near you then pick a good coffee shop and start chatting up someone near you. Meet new people and allow everyone to teach you something.
Know that it will pass. However you are feeling is not a permanent state of being. You will feel ten zillion different ways while traveling alone, and this will absorb into the collage of everything that happened to you during this wonderful life changing time. I promise. And it will be a wonderful, wonderful thing you’ve done.
How do you stay sane while traveling alone? Tell us in the comments!
(Feature image via Erin Belair)