It’s no secret that I used to be (and mostly still am) a very socially awkward and shy person. But I’ve also travelled to lots of countries completely on my own. People may read my posts or look at my photos and say I’m “brave”. But the truth is that I was also too scared to travel alone at one point. To be brutally honest, on some trips I was absolutely shitting myself the whole time prior. Right from the moment I booked the flight all the way up to the moment I arrived.
The time I went on my first solo trip to Thailand? I worried I wouldn’t make any friends or that I’d get drugged and have my organs sold on the black market (yep, really). When I went to Mexico I worried I’d get robbed as soon as I landed. Either that or that I’d be used as a drug mule. And when I went to work in Canada, I worried that everyone back home would forget about me once I left.
I can’t lie, going on solo trips still scares me. Sometimes. But it gets easier each time because I always realise that my fears are just irrational thoughts- they’re not real. I’ve definitely made mistakes along the way but for the most part I’m confident that I know how to keep safe when I’m alone, where to meet people if I feel lonely and how to budget efficiently when my funds are running low.
What are you afraid of?
In order to get over your fear of travelling solo, you need to find out why you’re afraid. Some people are too scared to travel alone because they’re afraid their personal safety will be compromised. Some might be scared they won’t make any friends and/or will feel homesick, and others might be afraid that they’ll have no life or friends to come home to. Whatever the reason is, get acquainted with it.
Create an action plan that will help to ease your worries when they arise. If you’re worried about safety in a certain place, do your research. Find out which areas are best avoided. Educate yourself on known scams in that area and make sure you know all the general safety precautions. Things like not walking alone at night and not flashing expensive items.
If you’re too scared to travel alone because you’re worried you might be lonely, a quick Google search will help you learn how to make friends while travelling alone (see travelling alone when you’re shy). Some places are way more solo-traveller friendly than others so that’s worth looking into too. You could also create a busy itinerary that you can stick to in the (unlikely) event that you don’t make any friends. Or just set up Skype on your phone. This will allow you easy access to people back home if you miss them.
If you’re worried about money, don’t go until you can take more than you need or you’ve learned how to budget properly. If you’re scared to quit your job, save up your time off and take a shorter solo trip or ask your employer if you can take unpaid leave.
Being a very anxious person anyway, it was obviously difficult for me to just get up and go. I needed to hype myself up and ignore the fears in my head, and the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway really helped me to do this. Aside from that, I read many travel articles and blog posts. I constantly researched things to do in my chosen destination and read Trip Advisor reviews of people who’d been there. I also watched tonnes of travel videos on YouTube- that really inspired me to finally go for it.
Imagine if you didn’t do it…
If you take care to plan your trip properly, what do you have to lose? Imagine being on your death bed and only then realising that you never visited all of those places you wanted to visit. All because you were too scared to travel alone. Instead you let your fears win and just played it safe. I don’t know about you but I find that really depressing.
Focus on the positives
It can be easy to think about all the negatives and dangers of doing something that is completely new and unfamiliar. But what about the positives? The new experiences you’ll have, the beautiful landmarks you’ll get to see… And what about the new friends you could make from different countries? What if you met the love of your life? If you never try, you’ll never know what could happen. A guy I travelled with in Thailand is now living out there as a full time PADI diving instructor, a girl I travelled with in Cambodia went back there to volunteer for 6 months and a guy I met in Ghana ended up staying permanently to work as a football coach. As cliche as it sounds, solo travel really can change your life.