Beating The Lonely Travel Bug

Traveling by bike and seeing the world can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But the loneliness that often times accompanies the traveling cyclist can be a challenge – especially if you’re not prepared to spend days, weeks, or months on end with no one but yourself.

I was thinking about just this thing when I got a message from Bicycle Touring Pro Facebook Fan, Daniel Shin, who wrote:

My name is Daniel Shin. From South Korea.
I was very inspired for your BicycleTouringPro.com

I loved your YouTube movie file.

I want to hear from you what do you feel being alone in the road?
What do you feel lying down on the ground at night?
What do you feel eating alone on the ground?
What do you feel being alone in an absolute alien places?

To summarize, Daniel is essentially asking, “What is it like to spend so much time alone?”

Personally, I’ve never had a big problem being alone on my travels. I’ve always been a bit of a loner anyway, so the jump to bicycle travel and long days alone on the road have never been that much of a challenge for me. In fact, I like being alone most of the time. I like sleeping in a tent at night. And I like eating by myself.

That said, I don’t like being alone in dangerous places when no one knows where I am. I don’t like ALWAYS being alone. And I don’t like going for months on end when the only conversation I might have on any given day is asking the supermarket clerk whether she accepts credit cards.

So, while I personally don’t mind being alone all that much, I know it’s something a lot of bicycle travelers struggle with.

So Daniel, or anyone else who might be nervous about the loneliness that can occur on a long distance bicycle tour, here are some suggestions for beating loneliness on your travels:

Consider A Group Tour

First of all, if you’re an incredibly social person and are easily prone to loneliness or depression, consider a group tour. These types of bike tours travel along some of the best biking routes in the world and allow you to spend your time both on and off the bike with a mixed array of people.

With a group tour you can choose to ride with yourself or with people from the group. If you’re feeling especially chatty, then you’ll always have someone to talk to. But if you feel like getting a little alone time, you can do that too! Just pull away from the group for a while and catch up on the conversation at the end of the day.¬†Group tours are a great way to beat the loneliness that can occur when traveling by bike.

Loneliness Is A Choice

Secondly, you should realize that loneliness is a choice. If you want to use your travels as a chance to isolate yourself and get away from the world, then bicycle touring is a great way to do just that. But if you want to get out there and use your bike trip as a chance to meet new people, experience new cultures and see the way other people live, then you can do that too! It’s simply a matter of you deciding what you want and then going for it.

You get to decide whether or not you want to be alone when traveling. If you’re lonely and need someone to talk to, use your bike as a conversation starter. When people see your bike loaded down with your belongings, many of them won’t be able to help but ask about your adventures. Use this as a chance to strike up conversation, ask about their lives, and beat your loneliness to a pulp.

Get Used To Being Alone

If you do decide to go on a solo bike tour, you’ve got to understand that you’re going to be spending a lot of time alone. While you may meet people along the way and strike up conversations about your travels, family, or whatnot, most of your time is going to be spent alone.

Spending some time alone before your bike tour is a good way to prepare yourself for the loneliness you’re bound to experience once you hit the road. To mentally prepare yourself for this, go on some long bike rides by yourself, hike up into the mountains alone, or stop calling your friends and family for a couple days and see what it’s like to not always have someone to talk to.

If you take off on the first day of your bike tour and it’s the first time you’ve ever been alone in your entire life, it may be quite a challenge to instantly overcome. So prepare yourself ahead of time by spending some time alone now, so it’s not that big of an obstacle once you depart on your bicycle touring adventure.

Embrace Technology

And finally, embrace technology! There are so many gadgets and gizmos now that allow us to stay connected with our friends, family members and co-workers that even though we may be across the state or even on the other side of the world, it’s easy to stay in touch. Travel with a cell phone, bring your laptop computer, or text message and Twitter your way across the country with your bicycle touring fans. Whatever communication mode you like best, use it to your advantage.

Loneliness is something every bicycle traveler deals with at one point or another, but we all handle it in different ways. The question now is, “What are you going to do to ensure you don’t become too lonely on your bicycle touring adventure?”

Have I missed anything? Are there any other techniques or strategies that one could use to beat loneliness when traveling? If you have any ideas, be sure to leave a comment below.

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4 thoughts on “Beating The Lonely Travel Bug

  1. Andy Solaini says:

    You are right Darren in that loneliness is a choice and also that being alone can be a good thing. As long as I am not in a dangerous place or when I get ill, I quite like being along on my travels. It allows you to do what you want, when you want.
    As long as you are travelling in the more developed parts of the world you can always find people to talk too. Rather than a night solo in a tent just head to a hostel and you can strike up a conversation with someone. Or like Darren said you can get online almost anywhere and then you can be in touch with family and friends.

    In my experience loneliness is to a large extent a state of mind. When thing go bad of course you will feel alone. It’s only natural to feel like this and you just have to ride it out (sorry for the pun!). All other time you just have to not think that you are alone and fill your days with enjoyable things to do.

  2. Jed Ripley says:

    I have cycled across Canada solo,as well as the Alaska Highway from one end to the other,all solo. Im now 54 and lonliness is one of my biggest obstacles now.Although a loner at heart, I find it getting harder to make the big decision every year to go it alone.It especially gets me when I get tired,both physically and mentally. Im glad to hear Im not the only one that feels this way.Happy riding,Jed Ripley.

  3. Norman Nomates says:

    Re: Being Lonely on a Bike Tour:

    You can always talk to yourself or use the budgie trick of talking to yourself in a mirror.

    Just don’t get too fond of or close to yourself. Keep out of romantic places.

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