Do you sometimes feel that even in a crowded room you are completely alone? People think because you travel, you are constantly meeting people and therefore never alone…or lonely. In hostels, on the street, at the airport, everywhere; you do actually meet people and interact with them on some level. However, you find that even though there are people, you can be lonely and depressed.
I have once gone 3 weeks without talking to another person and over a year never being touched – this means simple things like being touched on the shoulder, hand shakes, a hug. Unless you are in a “touchy” country like Spain or France, where kisses on the cheeks are common practice for greeting each other or meet the really “touchy” backpackers, who even after knowing you 2 hours will hug you goodbye, touching is not actually very common. Its difficult to describe, unless you have actually experienced this yourself. But even when you meet people in hostels, couchsurfing etc, you can sometimes find you aren’t really connecting with people, but rather just a quick, fleeting, impersonal moment of superficial discussion about travelling. You feel your issues are too intense for the discussion and perhaps feel like maybe you’re the only one having feelings like this.
As humans we need human interaction and connections, even those that are truly independent and can be telling themselves they don’t need other people. However, what happens when you start travelling and the depression and loneliness starts to set in, how do you deal with this?
There are lots of ways you can and it depends on the type of person you are. The standard and probably the easiest is to drink away your problems. Never encouraged, but being Australian, drinking is kind of a way of life. It can also feel good to numb the pain, even if just for a little while. However, after your drinking binge, the next day you often feel worse and nothing has really been solved. (It can also not be healthy and kinda expensive).
Another way to deal is communication with people in your life who will always have to be there for you…your family. Get on skype and have a chat! This can be a bit difficult if you have been on the road a few years…you find it can be difficult to communicate where you are in your life to people who haven’t seen you for some time. You’ve been travelling, posting amazing pictures and stories and then out of the blue you phone to have a good old chat and a cry? You could find yourself having superficial conversations as well, not really addressing your problem.
Another way to deal, (probably most relatable for women) is to watch a really sad movie. Often I find, particularly at my time of the month, if I don’t have a good cry, I will inappropriately cry at a random situation. So I get it out, all of it. Sometimes its been so intense I’ve grabbed a beer sat on a bench and just had a good blubber (thanks hormones).
Another way to deal is asking online communities for support. Post something about starting a chat session. You’re all strangers, you can just have a complete vent online and never have to see anyone again. You can go as deep and meaningful as you want.
Sometimes people just need to be heard. Sometimes people just need to be touched. While travelling these things can be hard to find…perhaps one day there will be an app like Tinder, Grindr, snapchat that will allow travellers to meet up for a hug and a chat easily and quickly so we can all survive the really low days and remember why we were travelling in the first place.