Travel is infinitely important to me. But I have just as much love for the stories told by Country music artists, and when I heard Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band, it seemed to sum up everything I knew about the loneliness of travel.
Well, it’s a winding road
When you’re in the lost and found
You’re a lover – I’m a runner
And we go ’round ‘n ’round
With my own solo travels came the increasing love of autonomy; the knowledge that I could pick up and go wherever I wanted, and change my plans at the last minute without bothering a soul. The number of experiences that occurred as the result of last minute decisions over the last six months have far outweighed the sense of feeling lonely or alone. In a relationship, many of my decisions surrounding travel would come across selfish or impatient, but as a solo traveller I have had so many more doors opened for me.
So essentially, travelling is not lonely. Mostly, my decision to travel with hostels and not other forms of accommodation means I am constantly surrounded by people, some of whom quickly become close friends. For a while after we part I miss them, especially if I am on my way home to an environment where meeting new people happens less frequently, but I am always confident that others will come along.
The Spinster Life
Romantically however, the loneliness of travel can hit hard sometimes. Last week I was clubbing with new friends in Belgium when they pointed out a tall, fairly handsome guy, and suggested I dance with him. Without thinking, my first question to them was “why?”
Unlike others I have met travelling, who willingly take advantage of making the most out of their youth and freedom, there are still plenty of us solo travellers who settle in to a bit of a spinster life. That’s because dancing with a random guy in a club seems almost pointless. Firstly, I don’t snog any random boy willy-nilly, and so if I do it usually means I’ve got a pretty good crush on them. Secondly, chances are that crush will just increase the more the snogging continues until myself or him moves on to the next country. See… pointless.
The Colder Weather
Travel opens up endless possibilities, and one of these has been that I love a lot easier than I used to. Friends, family, guys… I’m more likely to put more effort in to them all now that each situation lasts a little shorter than it did when I had a permanent home and routine.
But with more possibilities to love also comes more possibilities to be left behind, or do the leaving. A friend of mine, who let’s just say rather enjoys the company of pretty girls, recently told me he hates to sleep alone. Yet he’s a traveller, rarely in one place more than a few weeks and so his choice is to keep his bed warm when he can. The downside to this is that he experiences the colder weather far more often than I do living my spinster life of solo travel. Either way is not better than the other; every traveller comes to learn how best to deal with the loneliness of travel.
The Long-Distance Relationship
To avoid the spinster life and the colder weather, some travellers are strong enough to attempt the long-distance relationship. I’ve grown close to some beautiful couples on the road; ones who travel together continuously and others who separate now and then only to boomerang back to each other after a few weeks or months. Whilst rare, these couples provide hope that you don’t have to be a spinster or a player to survive romantically on the road.
But whilst the long distance relationship can be difficult to maintain, it is even harder to begin for those who don’t have committed relationships before they’ve begun their travels. So you’ve spent an amazing few weeks with one person in the city you met, but how do you navigate the waters after that, and what on earth makes you think those few weeks together can develop in to a budding relationship strong enough to tackle travel together or apart in the future?
Honestly, I don’t have that many answers. Right now the single solo spinster traveller lifestyle works for me, and if things change you guys will probably be the first to know!
What I do know, is that I know fantastically strong travelling couples who have come together both before or during their travels and held strong. So whilst there is a little bit of loneliness in travel… it’s not everlasting. And to me, it’s well worth the sacrifice.
Lots of love,