From the outside, traveling is one of the least lonely activities in the world.
But there’s a hidden loneliness people don’t see. You can live in a city and still have no one to talk to. People enter your life but they leave just as quickly. Sometimes you want to see the world’s wonders, turn to someone you love and say: ‘That’s amazing.’
The road is a difficult thing to master. We spoke to LGBTI people who travel the world professionally for their experience of loneliness on the road – and how they overcame it.
Digital Pride is the only global Pride dedicated to enabling everyone to be part of a Pride, whoever they are and wherever they live in the world. This year, we are focusing on tackling loneliness and isolation. It takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that it doesn’t so much matter where you go. What matters more is who you go with and who you meet there. Because you can be in the crappiest location and meet someone amazing. Suddenly it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
I’ve had the moment of standing at an incredible sunset and wanting to share it with someone.
There was this awesome story I heard recently by this guy who was on this backwards canoeing trip with a bunch of his buddies.
It was during the winter and he walked outside the tent and saw the Northern Lights for the first time ever.
So he’s experiencing one of the most awesome natural experiences we have in the world. And the first thing he did was not to continue looking at it and be like, Oh my God, this is amazing. First thing he did was turn and yell for his friends in the tent.
I think it’s human nature that when we experience good things, our first instinct is to share it.
I’ve of course felt lonely on the road. Going to a new city and not knowing anyone can be intimidating, and not everywhere you go can be the easiest to meet new people.
The last time I really felt lonely was when I got to Iguazu Falls in Argentina. It popped up out of nowhere. I got a hotel room for the two nights I was there. I figured it would just be the easiest thing to do for this quick pit stop, but as I’ve experienced over and over, hotels bring about more feelings of loneliness because they are not super social environments
When I am feeling lonely I deal with it head on. I love journaling for many reasons, as it is a time to connect with yourself and work through whatever is going on in your head. Loneliness is usually rooted in other things: not feeling active, not feeling social, not feeling entertained.
I’ve learned that people all over the world can be incredibly welcoming, you just have to be willing to strike up a conversation and say hi. A compliment goes a long way, and something as simple as ‘I like your shirt’ can be the opener to a brand new friend.
When I was in Iguazu, I reminded myself that the next day I’d be exploring an incredible jungle. Sure enough the next day once I was moving, exploring, and out of my hotel room I felt way better.
I actually ended up having one of the best days of my whole trip that following day. I met 5 lovely people, who totally reminded me that my feeling of loneliness wasn’t actually a real thing, but just something I was telling myself.
The loneliest I felt was at Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. It’s a little town with black sand beaches, a few wandering dogs, and two ATMs. In that part of the country, credit card terminals are uncommon – aside from the lone grocery store.
I was a week into my trip and low on cash. I soon discovered my debit card wasn’t working – along with every other card in my wallet.
So I was alone in Costa Rica, no cash to pay for a taxi, walking two miles back and forth between the ATM and my AirBnB – in my flip flops – in a futile effort to get money.
I grab a bottle of Aloe Vera juice at the grocery store, slump against the wall, and cry out of the sheer frustration of it all. I called my boyfriend Rafi, wishing I could transport myself back to the States. Not fun. Still alive.
Travel is not easy. It’s not always a vacation. But it reminds me of something Khalil Gibran once wrote, ‘Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.’
Personal growth often requires loneliness – where it seems the only voice in the world is your own tiny, trembling self, ricocheting around inside your skull.
Just stick it out, push yourself, and enjoy what most people will never have the privilege of feeling.
95% of the time I don’t feel lonely when I travel. There’s a big difference traveling alone and being lonely. Most of the time I enjoy having all that time for myself: it makes you absorb more of your entire surroundings and pay attention to every detail in the places you’re visiting.
I believe the loneliest I’ve ever been while traveling is one time I was in Budapest. I was walking and visiting the city by myself but the weather was far from good. It was cold and there was a lot of rain, so I had to seek refuge from the rain constantly.
All those minutes and hours waiting in a coffee shop, store, entrances of buildings and other places were very lonely because I had no one to talk to. Not all the places had WiFi so talking to a friend was not a choice. Also, people around me weren’t tourists eager to interact, so I only had my own thoughts while the rain stopped.
Feeling lonely is normal, you’re a human being with all types of feelings. But whenever you’re traveling and loneliness overcomes you, just stop for one second, look around and be nothing more than grateful. When I get lonely I go outside wherever I’m staying and take a walk somewhere beautiful and new.
You’re in a new country, in a new city! Learning and experiencing all wonderful new things. Be grateful, be joyous and be happy!
What is Digital Pride?
Digital Pride is the online movement, by Gay Star News, so you can take part in Pride whoever and wherever you are. Even if you are from a country where being LGBTI is criminalized or leaves you in danger – it’s a Pride festival you can be a part of.
In 2019, Digital Pride is tackling loneliness and isolation with articles and videos connecting LGBTI people. Join us by reaching out to someone who needs it. The festival takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.