Life on the road can be filled with excitement and new adventures, but it can also get lonely at times. It’s easy to start missing family and friends from back home.
Many people think you can meet a lot of new friends on the road, and they’re right. But it’s not necessarily as easy as people think– especially if you’re more introverted and shy.
The following is a little bit on the cause of loneliness when traveling in your RV, and some experiences of our RV Lifestyle Community on Facebook, and then some solid tips to combat loneliness and feelings of isolation!
But it’s important to note that you can feel lonely even if you are with other people. This is especially true if you travel with the same person and get “too comfortable” with each other or too focused on your own interests. In this case, loneliness isn’t due to being alone, but rather being isolated from meaningful interactions with others.
Studies have shown that women get asked more often than men if they feel lonely. That is because societal assumptions presume that women are more social creatures than men. In reality, anyone can experience loneliness, no matter their gender.
Let's Start with Causes of Loneliness as an RVer
While loneliness may be caused by something specific, like losing your traveling partner or animal, it is usually caused by one of three general issues: boredom, lack of socialization, or the fear of missing out (FOMO).
People can sometimes confuse boredom with loneliness. Boredom generally means that you feel restless or weary because there is nothing keeping your interest.
It does not necessarily mean that you want to be around others, but may need others to stimulate your mind or encourage you to try new things.
Lack of Socialization
You may be feeling lonely because you do not have as much social interaction on the road that you are used to. Many RVers are used to working and socializing with other people.
By hitting the road solo or for an extended period of time, you might not be exposed to as many people as you’re used to. This could be because you are in isolated locations or because you’re not comfortable meeting new people.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Another reason you might be feeling lonely is by having the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Perhaps you find yourself scrolling social media apps, and seeing fun things that others are doing. Or, maybe you do not like your current circumstances and are wishing to be someplace else.
No matter what is causing your FOMO, it could be robbing the joy you could be experiencing in your current situation. It could be a sign that you are having trouble embracing the present and living in the moment.
Our RV Lifestyle Community Weighs in on Loneliness
In general, the RV traveler (solo or not) hasn’t been spending his or her life alone. Parents, siblings, extended family, peers, friends, spouses, and children: Any combination of relationships have shared experiences with our traveler.
Life has been viewed not only through their eyes but also through the shared eyes of others.
The first magical glimpse of the Grand Canyon may have been enhanced and celebrated by sharing the excitement with a child’s or a spouse’s awe.
But as we age, life moves forward and changes, and we may find ourselves alone without the companionship of loved ones who have moved on with their own families or have passed away.
Whatever the reason for the separation, we may miss them.
Michelle misses her mother. “We were good friends and had so many laughs and good times. I miss her every single day.”
All of us can understand Michelle’s emotions, and Kimberly experiences the emotions that many RV travelers feel who find themselves alone on the road: “I miss sharing this with someone. I miss having a biking buddy and a kayaking partner. I also miss sharing the responsibilities. It’s just lonely sometimes.”
Karen agrees because she, too, “finds the full-time life to be lonely” and Sue speaks for many “who feel the same.”
Many who are lonely—who find themselves solo, who love to travel, who are no longer anchored to a job or responsibilities at home—seize the opportunity (no matter how fearful) to trade their sticks and bricks for wheels and strike out for new adventures.
RV travelers have the companionship and comradeship of other travelers whether those others are solo or not. Donna B. encourages all of us not to be lonely: “There’s so many of us out there looking to share the outdoors!”
The RV Community is not a Myth
A few years ago Jennifer interviewed some solo RV women and got their thoughts on the solo RV life.
An RV traveler may be lonely at times, but they are never truly alone while RVing. And it can be comforting and reassuring to know you will never be stranded for assistance.
If help is needed on the road or in the RV park or state/national park or even boondocking, a friendly assist can be found from fellow travelers.
Michelle agrees. “If you go camping, people are very friendly. They will help you hook up and whatever you need. Nice people camp.”
JW’s response to Kimberly’s plea for advice is evidence when he offers, “If you ever just need to vent or talk, I’m a good listener.”
Debra also offered for Kimberly to “pm your location. I can search your area for free services you might take advantage of will take a few days, but I’d like to help connect you.”
From this community, travelers can take comfort physically and emotionally. If our traveler is solo, they may be able to stay in one location for a longer period of time; as a result, they have more time to establish new contacts.
These contacts—friends—have a great deal in common with each other: love of travel, the outdoors, new adventures.
The RV community is a gold mine of helpful information and suggestions and help. They all also share a love and enthusiasm for the lifestyle. As you view the videos and read the blogs and websites of those in the media, take note of travel groups and clubs you can connect with.
Groups are available for every interest and meet-ups occur frequently. Coleen admits it may not always be easy, “but you are reaching out.”
“There are Facebook groups that can help you connect with local biking buddies or kayak partners,” encourages Karen, and those are just two examples of the groups available to the traveler.
You can be as solitary as you like or as active with others as you like….just reach out.
Exploring, learning, and growing with others
Staying longer in one location also gives the traveler an opportunity to become more familiar with an area instead of just “passing through.”
Explore the communities, the countryside, the historic sites or the contemporary sites. Visit art galleries and museums. Talk to the locals. Step foot inside the bookstores, the antique stores, the roadside diners, the roadside fruit and vegetable stands. Talk to the vendors and docents.
Hike the local trails. Take in a local festival or fair.
Are there any volunteer opportunities? Does a humane shelter need dog walkers? Cat sitters? Perhaps the state or national park needs volunteers.
Maybe the RV resort has a temporary job available. Many travelers move from job to job in the parks.
Websites are abundant that provide information on temporary traveling jobs.
More and more friends and connections will be made, and as you travel you will keep in contact with them. Maybe a new friend shares your love of history. Even after you travel separate ways, you can still communicate and share your new historical findings.
You will find many solo travelers who feel the same way—they may also be lonely and searching for companionship. “If you pursue them, you may find them,” Sue encourages.
The inward attention on loneliness will lessen as the solo traveler engages with their surroundings and with others.
More from our RV Lifestyle Community
The solo traveler has time to develop new interests and, as Sue suggests, “Start a new hobby…” or Michelle’s suggestion to “be sure to have a TV and some books to entertain yourself.”
Debra suggests “field trips, seminars, and exercise classes. Also, church is a great place to build community.”
You may have set off on your solo adventure, but your life before the RV still holds friends and loved ones that you now have time to call for meaningful conversations, to write notes and letters, to encourage and grow relationships with new friends along your journey.
Michelle has “two lifelong friends who live in Atlanta. We talk on the phone and visit.”
Invite friends and family to join you on an adventure. Donna R suggested that Kimberly not only take her granddaughter on trips but also tutor her in the art of traveling and “teach her to read maps and check out different areas, map in hand and online; look at places of interest along the way. Hang in there and instill the joys of travel with her!”
Purchase a special journal, buy some favorite pens and pencils, or open the pc and log/journal your adventures.
Monitor online classes. Walk. Run. Read. Stay active physically and mentally. Find opportunities to meet and interact with others, but also spend time with yourself. Rest. Relax. Nap. Be lazy. Schedule activities or be spontaneous. It’s your time.
What's the Goal?
The goal is not to find someone or something to fill a lonely void. The goal is to embrace the adventure, to grow mentally and emotionally, to belong to a community no matter how large or small, to enrich your life, and discover that you can be at peace even when loneliness feels a little heavier at times.
Vivian’s response encompasses the range of emotions: “I have been so lonely sometimes that I’ll just wander around in Walmart way too long, just to be near other humans, or eat in restaurants when I just can’t bear another meal all alone!”
There isn’t one of us who hasn’t felt this way at one time or another. It is natural and a part of being human, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm us or deprive us of a happy and meaningful life.
After some time alone, Vivian “came to peace with it and accepted loneliness as a familiar companion. It is now simply a part of my emotional life that comes and goes, and I no longer fight nor pity my state.”
We may be alone, but we don’t have to let loneliness rob us of the next adventure.
Re-Cap of the Tips to Combat Loneliness as an RVer
Even though you may be experiencing feelings of loneliness, do not despair. There are lots of ways to combat loneliness!
Things you can do to help fight the lonesome blues are as follows: live in the moment, increase your socialization time, find your joy, and seek professional help.
Attention solo female travelers: you may also want to check out our podcast Tips for Fulltime Retired Solo Women. And actually, the tips can help any solo traveler, regardless of age or gender.
1. Live in the Moment
Most of us need to practice letting ourselves get bored. It can be uncomfortable for those that are used to the fast-paced lives most Americans lead.
Slowing down and feeling bored may take some getting used to. But, isn’t that one of the things that pulled you into the RV lifestyle? Slow down and enjoy the slower, more present pace of life.
2. Increase Your Socialization
If you truly miss socializing with others, you need to put yourself out there to make new friends on the road. That may sound intimidating but there are lots of things you can do to make it easier.
3. Join an RV Club or Gathering
4. Attend RV Park Events
Many RV parks offer social gatherings, especially if they cater to snowbirds. Consider attending a gathering at the pool, community fire pit, or Rec room. People are there for the same reason as you… to meet new people!
5. Join the Locals
Hit up the local town for a meal, drink, or other activity. Is there a community event to attend? Or live music at a local bar?
Try attending a local hot spot to meet new people. People love to talk about where they live, so ask them questions about life in their town.
Jennifer and I actually make it a point to eat at local restaurants. Not because we don’t want to cook, but because we want to meet new people. For us, it's a surefire way to combat loneliness.
6. Use an App
Online apps can also help you meet other people while on the road. Social media is rife with groups that have similar interests. Our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group is a great place to start.
You might also consider dating apps. If you are not looking for romantic love, some apps have friend sections to meet people for a platonic relationship.
7. Plan Your Trips Around Friends
You can also use your traveling time to meet up with old friends! Think about mapping out a trip to their neck of the woods.
While meeting new people can be a lot of fun, old friends bring us a lot of comfort.
8. Find Your Joy
Ask yourself what brings you joy. Perhaps there are activities that you think should bring you satisfaction, but they are not doing the job. Maybe you need to rethink what engages your attention.
Try a new hobby like reading, hiking, sewing, or a different sporting activity.
9. Seek Professional Help
When traveling alone, you will have a lot of time to yourself to think. For some, it may feel refreshing and exhilarating. For others, it may bring old issues to light.
If you cannot shake your feelings of loneliness, consider seeking professional help to assist you in working through your feelings. Sometimes talking to an unbiased person about what’s on your mind is exactly what you need.
Many health plans offer remote therapy services. Contact your healthcare provider to find out.
There are also great remote online therapy companies that are easily accessible from your device. One you may want to try is called BetterHelp, which provides affordable therapy at your fingertips.
How Do You Combat Loneliness as an RVer?
We'd love to hear from men, women, couples, and singles in the comments. Let us know how you combat loneliness on the road. Your method may help another reader!
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