Getting lonely on the road is a major concern for a lot of people and often stops them from experiencing solo travel. There are so many ways to prevent yourself from getting lonely. But even when you are completely alone on the road for awhile, it just takes a new perspective for you to change your mindset and no longer see things in a negative way. Being alone and being lonely are two different things! These are all the ways I combat loneliness on the road, as well as how I stop myself from thinking about it all together.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Before getting into the different ways to prevent loneliness, I want to talk a little about being alone. If you’re really uncomfortable being by yourself, then solo travel might be exactly what you need. We usually don’t like being alone because of where our minds go and the thoughts that come in. So forcing yourself to sit with those ideas might actually result in self- growth and awareness that you didn’t know you needed.
Get comfortable with yourself. I used to hate being alone and now I love it. I love spending time with myself because I actually like who I am! (woah, did I just write that?) It feels good to unwind sometimes and just sit with myself whether it be Netflix, mediation, yoga, a good book, or just driving. You will inevitably learn a lot about yourself when the only person you can depend on is you.
So switch your mentality from being nervous of getting lonely.. to being excited to be alone! You never know what the future holds. It could be 10 dogs or even a husband/wife and a baby. You may never get a time again where you CAN travel alone. Take advantage of this time of your life and be alone!
MY FAVORITE BOOKS
One of my favorite things to do with my time alone is reading. Getting off a screen and focusing on a good book.
All that said, I still recognize the fact that we all crave connection. You can only be alone for so long before you just want to have a conversation with someone. It’s like a mental check in.. Am I going crazy or am I still semi- sane? A great way to get a meaningful connection on the road is finding others who are traveling too! Social media is a great place to find others and you can always team up with someone and travel together for a few days. Whenever I start wanting some quality time with people, I call a few van friends and see when we can meet up. Knowing someone is sleeping in a van right next to you is comforting, and nobody hates sitting around a campfire with good people until it’s time for bed.
FREQUENT SHORT INTERACTIONS
While I do love caravanning, it doesn’t always happen right when you want it to. It may take a few days to meet up with friends or you might be in an area of the country where you can’t find anyone else van dwelling. Having small, frequent interactions is crucial for preventing loneliness on the road. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, it can definitely be tough. But anytime you are in a town or city, just be open to talking to someone at a coffee shop or grocery store. I’ve made some really great friends at a dog park or beach simple because we struck up a conversation. Even if you don’t become besties, just speaking to someone else out loud is important for our sanity. I used to be so against small talk because I thought it was annoying. But I find myself talking to people all the time now even if it’s really brief. Walk with your head up and be open to conversation.
Just knowing in the back of my mind that I have a home base is comforting. It also gives me a place to go back to every 4-6 months when I need to be with people I love and visit family. I don’t have a house or any physical space that makes Indiana my home base but I do have family there. I talk to my parents almost every day and visiting them every once in awhile is like hitting a reset button. Just being in my childhood home for a week or two gives me the time to step away from the van, gather myself a bit, find a different kind of stability, and then hit the road again full force. Pick a spot where you have family or close friends and just know that it’s there when you need it.
If you know me, you know gatherings are my FAVORITE THING ON THE PLANET. I get a huge energy rush from big meet ups and run around a million miles a minute. If you want to make van friends, meet people in the community, and see hundreds of vans, come to the meet ups. I have social anxiety so you’d think this type of event would make me really nervous, but I can assure you that there is nothing to be intimidated over. Everyone is incredibly friendly and truly invested in getting to know you. I always post about the gatherings that I’m attending so follow me on Instagram if you want to keep up with the latest meet ups.
The ultimate way that I prevent myself from getting lonely on the road.. I’m not alone! Having a pet is the best way to have a companion but still keep the sense of freedom you want from solo travel. Ella can’t dictate what we do, where we go, or which city I’m headed to next. Of course there are certain things that can come up, but essentially I’m still in charge. She keeps me warm at night, gives me a sense of responsibility and purpose, but also can’t talk back or argue with me about where we’re going. I feel the same sense of freedom that I always have from traveling alone but I also have a pup that makes me laugh in the silent moments and keeps me from feeling like I’m entirely alone. Having a dog is a lot of work and there’s more responsibility involved than keeping you from being lonely.. But if you’ve been considering it, I do think it’s an amazing way to travel.