I was scared. It was my first trip being alone outside Maryland, and I didn’t know what to expect. My destination? Pittsburgh–Baltimore’s sworn enemy–for a film camp. I was going to learn how to become a better filmmaker or something.
I flew in to Pittsburgh, stumbled into a taxi (which lost its way like thirteen times), and had to barter with the driver to lower the rate because he spent 20 minutes basically asking everybody in town about where my destination was.
Then I walked into a room of about 90 people–all creatives–who looked intimidating. I was weird. I didn’t look like a creative person–I looked like the quarterback of the football team. These kids honestly didn’t look like they ever played a sport in their life. But they knew how to be creative. They knew graphic design, culinary, film, etc. I felt so out of place.
Pretty soon they placed us in groups to do some sort of ice-breaker thing, and all my insecurity went away. I was forced to talk, forced to get outside my comfort zone. I was forced to be myself. Pretty soon I made friends, did things with those friends, and I still see them to this day on my Newsfeed every now and then.
I learned something on that trip. If you want to beat loneliness while travelling, there’s a few things you MUST do.
- Thrust yourself into the fray - Attend an event and get around people. Go to Meetup.com and find out about a few things you can do! This is so much easier than walking into a bar and trying to strike up a conversation with someone cold. At events people are there to socialize. They want to be talked to!
- Be yourself - Just trust it. Trust that your joke is going to make everyone laugh. Trust that you’ll find something about somebody else that’s captivating. Trust that it’s going to be an incredible experience–and it will be! You have friends back home that love you, and there’s bound to be people there that’ll love you too.
- Take chances - Take some chances, dammit. Get some balls and go talk to some people. Sometimes it’s literally as simple as that.
- Play to your strengths - I love sports. One time I made a few friends after asking to join a volleyball game on the beach. Since playing sports is more comfortable to me, it helped me to calm down and ask to play.
- Be open - The flip side to playing to your strengths is to just be open. Walk into every situation with positivity. Don’t necessarily keep thinking about making friends, just focus on being yourself, having fun, and make natural comments when they come to you.
- Get distracted - Call your friends, skype somebody, or watch a movie. Get your mind off the fact that you’re out on your own and that might help give you a boost in confidence.
- Realize that loneliness isn’t a bad thing - Loneliness doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you! Sometimes being lonely is good. We get to sit with our thoughts and listen to ourselves for a moment. It helps us to reset. Now you have all that time to write, explore, or take pictures of wherever you’re at.
Those are a few ways I get over loneliness myself. How do you get over it while travelling? Feel free to comment below!