I have always been fiercely independent and have been lucky enough to have a wide circle of good friends and a fantastic family unit so haven’t really felt lonely. But when you are a solo traveller you have to expect there will be occasions when you will be alone and you will have to cope with your own company.
Whilst travelling across Australia I was very lucky to meet a lot of fantastic people who were also in the same boat.
I wasn’t the first female solo traveller to go trekking alone and I wont be the last. I was given one great piece of advice by my well-travelled work colleague before I left England. He told me to say,
‘yes, more than you say no.’
It wasn’t until I was in Australia that I understood the true significance of his words.
In England I have my set group of friends, my set routine and there is no need whatsoever to make any effort with anyone outside of my circle. In fact the thought of even entertaining the idea of meeting people outside of my set friendship group was completely alien and would have been confronted with a big ”why?.” Not because I am anti social or anti new friends. But sometimes in life it’s hard enough juggling life duties and making quality time for the people who are already there.
With the advice I was given, I likened myself to ‘Yes Man.’ Saying yes to near enough everything even if it did push me out of my comfort zone. This philosophy of being ”Yes Man” had me:
1) 4Wheel driving through the bush tracks (even though I can’t drive).
2) Taking a dip in the Northern Territories crocodile waters.
3) Living out at sea on boats when I can’t swim to save my own life!
Obviously there is a limit to the ‘Yes Man’ philosophy. Don’t put yourself in direct danger. Don’t break the law. It’s about balance. Don’t say no too many times give things a go. When you travel it’s about experiences and there are only so many times you can say no before people give up. After all the more times you say yes the more people you meet. The more fun you will have.
At times the Yes Man routine became a bit too much and I ended up craving more homely quiet nights in and achieved this by moving into a househare.
Hostels are a great place to meet people just hang around and speak to people or invite your new room-mate out to go sight-seeing.
Meetup.com is an excellent website to meet new people in social situations that are of interest to you. In Melbourne I went to a great meetup group which was for newbies to Melbourne. But there are a number of different groups: rock climbing groups, movie groups, language classes,mother and baby meetups etc
A group to match every interest and if there isn’t one for your particular interest you can create your own and invite people.
Living in a shared house finding a job are also great ways to meet people.
I found Perth and Sydney very transient cities a bit like London. You make friends then people move on for whatever that reason may be. That can be really hard to swallow especially if you become attached to someone or a family. That happened to me a few times, travellers visas ran out, Australian friends I met decided to move to the UK or got jobs in the outback or out at sea. You have to be resilient and expect constant change.
There might be occasions when you will have to eat out on your own. This can be daunting because its unnatural to dine alone, unless you’re having a snackbox KFC. Sometimes eating on your own can’t be avoided. I had no kitchen in my hotel on the Goldcoast. What I would do was have a large lunch in the late afternoon when the cafes are more or less empty. Then I would purchase a small snack for dinner from Coles the supermarket.
This way you avoid eating alone at a busy time of day which can be a reminder of how alone you really are! The bonus of dining at lunch time is that the lunch menus are always cheaper than dinner menus.
Loneliness can cause people to let their guard down or make choices they wouldn’t normally make.
One famous female blogger suggested Tinder as a great way of meeting people. I would avoid meeting strangers online whilst travelling especially if you are female. If you are going to do this ensure you have friends in the location that you are based in and arrange to meet in a public place so that if anything happens to you someone will know. The blogger who suggested this is at the height of her career, gets paid to travel and has a readership of over 2 million. If she goes missing someone will notice .
I found that fellow travellers were overall trustworthy and showed great kindness may be because they themselves are in the same boat. I had a few things stolen from me in a hostel nothing major but at the time it’s just annoying. I had money taken out of my purse but it was under $10.00. I had a brand new tube of toothpaste stolen whilst I was in the shower and it was literally life shattering at the time. I also had food stolen but that is to be expected in a hostel.
In fact it was an expat fellow Brit who had lived in Perth for 9 years that had caused me the most bother. He was a bad cookie, who I wrongly trusted. I had only known him a few weeks. He offered to store some of my stuff in a lock up because I had to move out of my rented apartment. I had accumulated a lot of electrical items a coffee machine, food processor, George Foreman juicer, a microwave to the approx cost of $1000. I couldn’t bring these to the hostel I had temporarily booked into, so took him up on his offer.
Long story short, when I finally sorted new accommodation and was ready to collect my possessions he told me that they had gone. ”Gone? What do you mean gone?” I was completely baffled.
”I gave them to a homeless person” he said. He needed them
”Excuse me?! How can you give my stuff away?! It’s not yours to give away!….and why would a homeless person need electrical goods?!”
I never did get to the bottom of what had really happened to my stuff. I was going to go to the police about it. But my mum said to just let him and the nasty situation go. After all I was in Australia to have a good time not be bogged down with legal suits.
A bit of loneliness is not a bad thing. It gives you time to reflect and enjoy your own company. But just be careful in your pursuit of curbing loneliness that you pick your company and the situations you put yourself in wisely. The solo females intuition and cautiousness is what leads to fun times!