Many of us look forward to finishing the workday to go home to unwind with family and friends—but what about if you’re aren’t heading home at the end of the day?
Most of us are creatures of habit, so when you’re away from your family and friends, and regular routine, you may feel a little out of sorts. If you’re working on a travel assignment, this may lead to feeling lonely when traveling. Feeling lonely can happen to almost anyone, at any time. It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, but there are ways to work to reduce loneliness while traveling.
Being Alone Doesn’t Have to be Lonely
Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Often we can feel happy when we’re alone, and it’s possible to feel lonely in a crowd of people. Sometimes being lonely can feel almost as bad as if you have a physical ailment.
Most of us want to feel like we belong. Our need to engage in relationships and connect with others can help to stave off loneliness. It can be difficult when you start a new assignment, or travel to an unfamiliar place, to feel as if you belong. But there are ways to be proactive to help avoid feeling lonely and enjoy your travels more. A few ways include:
- Bring the Comforts of Home
You may be away from home, but that doesn't mean you can’t pack things to help make it feel like home. This could include photos, your favorite trinkets, comfortable slippers, or your preferred coffee to help you stay positive. You could even take an item from home on your travels and allow it to share in your adventure. Take photos of the item while sightseeing and share them with family to help you feel connected and share in the fun. Perhaps you can choose an assignment that family and friends might want to visit so they can join you for a weekend and then you can show them the sights.
- Explore Your Surroundings
Rather than stay in your room, even if it’s just to sit in the lobby or a coffee shop. Get out and become familiar with the area so you can feel more comfortable. Make note of places you might like to go, or if you know of other people new to the area, invite them and explore together. You could check out couchsurfing.org to meet travelers, or other locals through Meetup. Just be certain to keep safety foremost in your mind.
- Get to Know Your Coworkers
Start a conversation with your coworkers by asking for recommendations on where to go sightseeing, or where to eat. Ask for their opinion on the best local hangouts. Show an interest in what’s happening at your assignment such as birthday celebrations, or other events, and try to be social even when you don’t feel like it.
- Stay in Touch
Keep your contact information for family and close friends in your favorites, or somewhere easily accessible for a quick call or text. Even with differences in time zones, technology has made staying in touch so much easier. Social media can allow you to stay connected by sharing your travels with photos, or take your family and friends sightseeing with Facetime or Skype.
- Family Matters
An upcoming holiday, or family event you’ll miss while traveling might make you feel a little lonely. Make plans before the day so you have something to look forward to, ask your family to videotape events to watch together when you get home, or commit to something you can do together remotely, like a book club that can provide something to discuss while you’re traveling, or when you return home. These efforts might help gain the support of your family and can help to ensure your family that you’re only a phone call away.
- Enjoy Your Time Alone
Make a list of activities you can do by yourself, such as attending a local event and walking around, or volunteering at an animal or homeless shelter. This can allow you to be around other people, while only having to fulfill your own agenda.
Make the Most of It
Most of us have old hobbies we haven’t participated in for years, or movies, television shows and books waiting for a rainy afternoon. Spend some time catching up on what you might’ve put off.
Being alone doesn’t mean you’re going to feel lonely, but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead to ensure you can make the most of your travel assignments. In addition to considering the professional experience gained working as a locum tenens, you might enjoy new and exciting personal experiences. You just might find that you enjoy your own company even more than you realized.