Writer Julia Bainbridge recently cut loose from her role as Yahoo’s food editor to launch The Lonely Hour, a podcast about loneliness—and the first episode is devoted to traveling solo. Here, her tips for deflecting, defying, and embracing that feeling when your only travel buddy is you.
“Hop On The Bus. Or the subway, or the tram—whatever form of public transportation the place offers. There, most people are sitting in silence alone, which makes me feel less so. Try it! You’ll feel immediately connected, not to mention entertained. Had I not, I wouldn’t have noticed that people of all ages and genders in Tokyo carry lunch to work in logo-ed plastic shopping bags, or that men in Milan wear fierce amounts of cologne. I get a real sense of the local sensibility when I’m free from a travel partner, paying undivided attention.”
“Go Out. After a very bad breakup a few years ago, I wanted to escape for a weekend and hightailed it to Montreal on my own. Once there, part of me was feeling anti-social (read: depressed), but part of me was itching to try the Champagne cocktail at that new bar near my hotel. ‘When in doubt, go out,’ is my travel mantra, because why add insult (self-reproach) to injury (loneliness)? The bar was packed and I didn’t talk to anyone, but I did order the Champagne cocktail. It wasn’t thirty minutes before my insecurity pushed me out the door, but getting through the evening was a confidence booster.”
“Take It Easy. Vacationing solo is the ultimate form of self-care; you may get lonely, but you make all the rules. So if tonight, you feel like the richest experience you could have is a bubble bath, then you do that. Order room service for supper, go to bed early, and order room service again for breakfast. I did just that on a recent trip to Dublin. No one else was there to bear witness to my long, lazy morning; it was all mine.”