Before I first went away in 2006, I had these expectations about travel. My trip was going to be a non-stop adventure filled with colorful and exciting people. I’d make friends everywhere. I’d be talking to strangers on buses. Locals would be inviting me out places. I’d be drinking a latte, strike up a conversation with my beautiful waitress and then the next thing I’d know we’d be at a wine bar with her teaching French. It was going to be just like those articles I’d read or movies I saw on travel.
Then I went overseas. There I was, on the road and alone.
At first, it was exciting. I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted.
It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s adventurous but then that excitement wears away as you begin to crave human interaction and companionship.
Suddenly, you’re alone in the bad way — and that’s not what was supposed to happen.
But then you realize the only reason you are alone is because of fear.
I was a big introvert. It wasn’t natural for me to just walk up to strangers and talk to them.
But that fear was keeping me back from living the dreams I had in my head. If I wanted to make them happen, I was going to have to MAKE them happen.
A lot of people wonder if traveling alone means they will always be alone? How will they make friends? Is it easy?
It’s a valid concern and, for us non-natural socialites, it’s a challenge.
But let me tell you: it’s a lot easier than you think.
There are a lot of people traveling solo.
People just like you.
People looking for an adventure.
People who crave interactions with others.
And that other is you.
Because we all start off in the same boat – in a foreign country without any friends, looking for people to spend time with.
Once you realize that, you realize how simple and easy it is to make friends because everyone is just like you.
It took the introvert in me a while to learn that truth but once I did, I had no trouble meeting people.
Try starting small. Talk to the person in your dorm room. Say hello. Ask them about themselves. They will respond. It will be fine.
Do the same to other travelers you see.
Look for that group leaving for the bar and ask, “Can I join you?”
Walk over to that pool table in the hostel and ask, “Who’s next?” Guess what? You are!
I found it hard at first, but you either sink or swim on the road. My options were to be alone or to get over my fear, take the plunge, and talk to people. I choose the latter.
And on the occasions I was sinking instead of swimming, other travelers came up to me and said hello.
They made the first move so I didn’t have to.
Why? Because they are looking to make friends too, and understand that if they don’t do something either, they too will be alone.
Travelers are a friendly bunch. We want to meet new people and make new friends.
And one of those friends is you.
You are never alone on the road. There are people everywhere who will be constantly talking to you and inviting you out.
Traveling alone doesn’t mean you will be alone.
Take it from this introvert, you’ll meet more people than you’ll know what to do with.
And you’ll realize that there was never any reason to worry in the first place.