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The Lonely Traveler's Syndrome

Updated: Mar 10

Since 2010, I’ve lived 3 months in London, 7 in Greece, 3 in Peru and I came back to Seville where I said farewell to my friends and colleagues. Afterwards I lived 9 months in Croatia, 6 in Canada, 8 in Indonesia, 4 months in Thailand, later on I spent 2 years traveling the world every week-end as videographer of a cycling team and then I mAfter several years on the road, I managed to identify the symptoms and now I am able to self-diagnose myself: I suffer The Lonely Traveler’s Syndrome.oved in Berlin. I started traveling when I was 22, and at the age of 33 I have visited over 70 countries. Every time I started my journeys alone and I always ended up accompanied. Each adventure had its challenges and adversities but every experience has made me stronger.

Miguel Cano on its 1-month expedition through remote areas of Tibet
Traveling alone is the best way to travel accompanied

The human being is social by nature; he searches for support and shelter in collectives where he finds affinity in order to feel stronger. Civilization is evolving towards a mass society, where the conduct of global population is regulated by trends and behavioral standards ruling over 90% of our time; what time we wake up, what time we should go to work, what is the right time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what is the most convenient time to go to bed…and even on how to dress, what music to listen to and what technologies to use in order to do not feel excluded.

Massive Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman

Our human relations and habits build during years our comfort zone. If we are sad, having friends or relatives next to us is going to cheer us up; if we happen to wake up euphoric and joyful, the fact of being surrounded by people who are not will calm down our emotions; if our opinion is clearly divergent, the general judgment will eventually make us believe that we are wrong and we will end up complying with the established belief as the proper one.

Thus, those social and human factors which are unavoidably part of our daily basis offer to us emotional stability at the same time than a comfortable affection that relaxes our senses and focus our approach in a gentle way.

However, when you start traveling alone, you stop having those references and your emotional functions end up working out in a more independent and autochthonous way, something which has both its positive and negative sides.

Miguel Cano hitchhiking through South America
Hitchhiking is a wonderful way to make friends

To live constantly meeting and finding out new peoples and cultures certainly happen to be an enriching factor towards self-development. You expand your view and personal borders of conception by coming to find out that everything in this life is subjective.

You meet wonderful people and, occasionally, outstanding individuals, inspiring human beings that simply with their attitude, way of life and respect for their principles and values play a remarkable influence on the people around, changing them for good.

I have always believed we are born as empty bottles and the influence of people next to us keeps filling that bottle which forms our personality, having the opportunity of learning to choose how much of each person we want to add in our bottle.

Miguel Cano filming a documentary movie in Piura
Traveling offers the opportunity to work in incredible projects [filming in Peru]

When you spend plenty of time all by yourself, free of references and trustworthy opinions, you dance with the risk of raising your judgment over the rest of the people’s. The internal fight against ego is the greatest battle for a traveler to wage.

Every person we may meet in our way has something to teach us and it is in the capacity of listening, perceiving and appreciating the small things around us where the key of success relies, defying, of course, ‘success’ as the constant process of learning and human self-development.

When traveling, finding out new cultures and working in different environments, it is often unavoidable to face situations we are not used to and behaviors that seem odd to us, irrational and even some times unfair…but it is right in those moments when we have the possibility of maximizing our learning and development if we are capable to relax and expand our mind.

In my case, I have usually spent just enough time in a place in order to start building great friendships… right before departing towards somewhere else.

I dilute the nostalgia and longing of so many beloved ones spread around the World with whom I cannot share as much as I wish, in syrup of pure life which offers me new teachings and adventures every day.

Miguel Cano meditating at a meditation retreat in an island at the south of Thailand
Traveling alone helps you find yourself

Lacking a collectivity rationing my emotions, often I come to develop the certainty of having a thousand friends, that every human being is amazing and that life is wonderful, while often I happen to believe that I am completely alone in my fight, living in a massive World filled with selfish and proud people.

Inevitably, we need much more time for making friends than for losing them and as life goes on and I keep on walking, occasionally I end up feeling like there are a lot of people behind accompanying me but very few doing it by my side.

Thus, The Lonely Traveler’s Syndrome is characterized by an emotional instability and an alteration in time and space perception after resetting your conception and connecting with the basic and fundamental, with the origin. It is the mix of the adrenaline feeding the uncertainty with the improvisation of the moment. It is not knowing if life goes too fast or time is endless, if having a million friends or just very few real ones, if the World is enormous or a really small place.

As in each syndrome, the first step is identification, the second is acceptance and the third and last one, the solution. In my case, I consider the syndrome I suffer as a gift I have the immense fortune of living every day. I believe there is no better way of facing it than taking the best of every second and enjoying with the people I have around in order to keep learning and evolving.

Life is today, here and now, wherever you are, whenever it is. To smile happens to be the most efficient way of changing the World and I am committed to keep my personal revolution all over. Although I travel alone, I know that my path is being walked by all those who walk by my side.

Miguel Cano in Peru, at the top of Las Huaringas Lakes
At the top of las Huaringas Lakes (Peru)

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