I woke up confused, almost in Haze, questioning myself, “How the hell did I crack my iPhone’s screen?”
“Did I break it while I was sleeping?”
Then a closer look, still half asleep, and I realized that it wasn’t broken.
It was the new wallpaper that I’d installed a few days ago. It made the screen looked as if it were cracked.
I was simply being groggy.
I couldn’t see clearly, as negative thoughts had held sway over my thinking process.
It had been a few long weeks, since I was travelling. Alone!
And having no one to speak with, I had become a lone, grumpy traveller.
This is how the gloominess of solo travelling first hit me. And as I remember, it hit me hard.
When I’d initially left for my first ever solo trip, I expected a fictional reality – based on my imagination and popular culture. I thought my trip was going to be amazing. Crazy thing were going to happen to me. I’d make friend everywhere. Locals would invite me for dinners. It was just going to be one of those travel movies I saw. One adventure after another.
But as I plunged on the journey, I got so busy with myself, that the idea of socializing with others seemed irrelevant. At first it was exciting. I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted. But as the days wore on, and I started to forget what speech sounded like, I hated every moment of traveling.
In only a few days, I was feeling hopelessly alone. The excited traveller in me was almost dead.
As an introvert, it was not natural for me to just walk up to strangers and start a conversation. Though 2 years later, and as I’m writing this story now, I have pretty much mastered that art, but back then, the fear of speaking with strangers was much alive. I had no idea how to speak to strangers, let alone making them friends.
How To Break The Ice
While initiating a conversation, a lot of people wonder what other person would think, and trust me, that’s a valid concern. It takes a lot of courage to start a random conversation with those whom we don’t know. But remember, all around you are other travellers who want to meet new people and extend their travel circle. Just say ‘Hello’ and everything will fall into place. While travelling, even the grumpiest creature on earth transforms into an amiable, socializing person – and that’s the beauty of it.
If not, you can always speak to the locals. The caretaker in your guest house or, the person who served you at the restaurant. Start by asking about places you can visit in the town and you’ll see the conversation will go to a next level, on its own.
What I generally do, perhaps, is Smile and tell the stranger how much I loved this town (even if I hated it). And it works every time. On many occasions, other travellers came up to me and said ‘Hello’. Why? Because they were looking to make friends, too.
Travellers are a friendly bunch. We want to meet new people and make new friends. And one of those friends is you.
Still if you find it too tough to start a conversation, and waiting for others to come to you takes too much time, then I will suggest you to use websites like Couchsurfing, or Workaway.info, which allows travellers to stay with locals and befriend them before they even start their journey. Other than that, use groups on Facebook to find friends.
But I am sure, after a few solo trips, you would realise that travelling alone doesn’t mean being alone all the time. Still if you end up being in a place where there aren’t many tourists, or English is almost an alien language to the locals, there are always other things for your rescue.
Other Things To Keep You From Getting Lonely
In the world of ever connected devices, it’s impossible to feel lonely. While looking for a guest house, find one which has wifi. From the tech savvy alleys of Tokyo to the isolated treks of Everest – you will find wifi enabled guest houses and restaurants almost everywhere in the world. So just find some connectivity and log on to Twitter or Facebook to connect with the world and the life you always knew better.
Other than this, it is always a good idea to carry something you like. A camera, a guitar, or a couple of books. You can also maintain a journal – full of memories and moments that have amazed you. Though unlike me, writing is not something that many would love to do, to kill their boredom – but if you have nothing to do for the moment, there is no harm in giving your thoughts the wings to fly. A regular maintained journal also gives you memories from your trip that last a lifetime.
But I’m sure you won’t need many hacks to avoid getting lonely. And especially no guns! This world is full of friendly and awesome people who will be constantly talking to you and inviting you out. After a few solo journeys, you yourself will realize that there was never a reason to worry about getting lonely at first place. You will meet more people than you’ll know what to do with. So take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the ride!
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