As I biked away from Charlotte I had the same feeling rise to my chest. It felt great to get back on the road again, but for some reason, I felt empty. As I pedaled along, the emotions washed over me and I felt like I wanted to cry. This wasn’t the first time I had felt like this. Every time I left a friend’s or family’s house this feeling crept back in. This trip was my dream, so why was I having these feelings? I enjoyed being on the road while enjoying all the incredible sights and sounds. Yet, I couldn’t avoid this feeling whenever I left a familiar “home-like” location.
I am still dealing with these emotions, but I recently I have begun to uncover them. Solo travel is great, but it leaves a lust for human connection. Being out on the road for hours and days alone is almost meditative, but I still find myself thirsting for human connection. I know I am not alone in this thirst. I want to explore these feelings and help you deal with them when you go on your own solo trip, or if you are experiencing the loneliness of solitude.
Experiencing the Solitude Associated with Solo Travel
Solo travel does something to you that is hard to find in normal everyday living. You are constantly alone. Every decision you make is your own. There is a lot of merit to this, but also a lot of difficulties. Solitude is something that you have to experience to truly feel it. Some people may be used to it as they live alone or work from home. However, the majority of us are surrounded by friends and family at home and/or work. This is how it has always been for me. I’ve lived with people all my life and I’ve always worked on site.
Biking solo has changed all that and I find myself alone most of the day. Somedays I won’t talk to anyone. This has created a solitude that I haven’t experienced before. Solo travel gives you solitude and time to contemplate everything. When I say everything, I mean everything! It’s pretty crazy where your mind goes when you’re alone for hours on end. I have ridiculous ideas, some great ideas, and many random thoughts. My only companionship is a podcast or music from one earbud.
The solitude can be very peaceful. There’s no one to answer to and thoughts flow unabated. Deep thought and contemplation come easy. It’s very easy to become lost in thought. The best times are when I become lost in the scenery. I have had tears come to my eyes many times at the beauty I’m experiencing. Being alone there is no one to share these emotions with.
The Loneliness that Comes with Solo Travel
The hardest part about solo travel is the loneliness. I’ve sat with the feeling of emptiness many times after leaving a family or friend’s house. It took me a long time to explore this feeling and understand it. I was doing what I always dreamed of, but the feeling remained. It faded as I biked later into the day and the next day I usually found my groove. Was this a personal issue or something most people experience?
From sitting with this feeling and talking it out with close family and friends, I realized that loneliness is inherent from solitude. I would begin to feel at home whenever I stayed with friends and family. I felt welcome and loved. When I left all that was ripped away from me ten miles down the road. The emptiness I experienced was true loneliness. I found that the solitude associated with solo travel makes you appreciate human connection. A five-minute conversation on the side of the road kept me going. It was these moments that I treasured.
What Human Connection Really Means
My solo travel allowed me to see what true human connection means. Having it and losing it created a vacuum which I struggled to understand. Most of us go through our days without a true understanding of what human connection means to them. We are unaware the value it has in our lives. I lived like this for 27 years of my life completely oblivious to what having other people around me did for me. I was grateful for all the amazing people in my life, but I did not understand the basic primal value of true human connection.
Bik touring has allowed me to appreciate what it means to make a human connection. Strangers have taken me in off the streets, fed me (many times), and given me a place to sleep. They never ask for anything in return and their generosity is incredible. I can’t thank these people enough for what they’ve done for me. My friends and family are equally as generous. They make me feel at home immediately and are willing to do anything for me.
My vulnerability has enabled this incredible human generosity and connection. If people did not take me in, I would be sleeping in the woods or on the side of the road. It’s my vulnerability that allows for deep human connection. I am relying on people to help me. I have no choice. This has allowed me to form deep connections with even the passing stranger.
How You Can Find True Human Connection at Home and on the Road
Too often we are surrounded by the same set of people day and day out. This isn’t really a bad thing, but it can make you forget what it means to truly connect to a person. I have found that by opening myself up, I can make deeper connections with strangers, friends, and family. This is the combination of the solitude of solo travel, vulnerability, and being open to new experiences.
You don’t have to go on a solo bike trip to find true human connection. Opening yourself up to new experiences and conversations can change the way you connect. The best human experiences are the ones you don’t expect. The conversation with the mom from a poor neighborhood raising three kids or a conversation with a convict fresh out of jail can open up your world. You don’t have to do much to put yourself in scenarios where you can make a new connection. It’s about putting yourself out there.
Make yourself easy to talk to. Start a conversation. Meet somebody new. This is how you develop the power of human connection. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to create deep meaningful connections. We become too comfortable in our day to day routine. Get out of this routine by creating a new connection or a deeper connection. Tell your story and people won’t be afraid to reciprocate. You’ll avoid the small talk and form a connection for life.
My Lessons on Human Connection
Through my bike tour, I have been able to create amazing human connections. The act of biking across the country has allowed me to be open to anything. I am vulnerable, so others make themselves vulnerable. I tell my story, so others tell their story.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable and tell your story. A deep human connection is something invaluable. I hope my story has inspired you to create or deepen your human connections. The connections I have created are the best part of my tour. Find the human connections you need to enhance your life.
What are your best experiences with travel and finding true human connection? How do you make yourself more vulnerable? What are some of the best stories of people you have from the road? Let me know in the comments!
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