Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Alone
Seriously, (wo)man, don’t be afraid to travel alone. Solo travel is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The lack of a travel partner should never prevent you from savoring rich new experiences and memories. Don’t believe me? Then make sure you check out all the benefits of traveling alone! These benefits are not only plentiful (I might write a novel on them), but the sense of empowerment you experience on your solo travels will impact your life, reaching beyond the time constraints of your actual trip.
… Still not convinced? Really? Argh.
Fine, I see I have my work cut out for me.
I Used to Be Afraid to Travel Alone
Now you might think I sound harsh. You might be rolling your eyes and thinking, “Rachel, I honestly don’t see the fun in going to strange places with no one to keep me company. I’ll feel bored and silly. And, by the way, isn’t solo travel totally dangerous? I don’t wanna end up dead in a ditch somewhere.”
Honestly, I don’t hold your fears against you. Booking a ticket for one is a scary proposition, especially when it feels like literally everyone else is traveling with a partner or friends. Being the “odd one out” isn’t always fun, and sometimes I worry about others’ opinions of me too. I’m sure people think I’m crazy, but different post for a different day.
So I understand your reluctance. Solo travel is intimidating. I still feel overwhelmed before going on my trips.
Still, don’t allow fear to stop you. My life would be a million times worse if I didn’t summon my courage and get out there to see new cultures and meet new people. Travel is the most precious gift I gave to myself.
So, in this post, I came up with the eight most common reasons people are afraid to travel alone, and then I go onto to debunk them. Stay tuned.
1. I’m Afraid to Travel Because What if I Fall Ill?
Ugh, traveling alone and getting sick sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? I totally feel your anxiety on this topic. I only want to curl in bed when I’m sick and cry.
Okay, although I have improved a lot in recent years, I used to travel with crazy hypochondria and faced a few challenges because of it. Like, a tickle in my throat? I’d expect for a full blown pneumonia, haha.
So I get it. Feeling sick isn’t awesome. However, I also feel preparing for the worst case scenario arms you a sense of control – even if you are traveling alone and feel scared about it. For example, as always, make sure to bring travel insurance with you on your trip. That way, illness won’t steal your money in the form of doctor bills.
Your country’s embassy will also have a list of hospitals and doctors on their website. Know where these hospitals and doctors are based in case you need to get treatment.
Sickness sucks, but it’s not the end of the world if you’re pre-prepared for it.
2. What if I Get Lost?
Actually sometimes getting lost is a blessing in disguise. You might find a new restaurant or a cool boutique, and find a unqiue small museum not promoted on big travel websites. You won’t vanish forever either.
Now, if you’re seriously worried about getting lost, then my advice is to take precautions ahead of time to save yourself frustration.
How to do that? Download offline maps to your device to keep yourself from running around in infinite circles. Your phone now serves as your guide. If you don’t want to bring a device with you or don’t want to draw attention by whipping out expensive electronics, then use your accommodation’s computers to plan a route ahead of time. Maybe even print your maps.
Finally don’t feel silly for asking for directions. Duck into a shop or a cafe. You might strike up a lovely conversation with a local.
3. What if I Don’t Make Any Friends?
I feel ya here. I get frustrated if I don’t talk to anyone on my trip either. I travel for the people, truly.
My first piece of advice is to stay in a hostel. Don’t be put off either. Hostels exist for all ages. Read reviews ahead of time and stay in a hostel that suits your needs. For example, don’t stay in a party hostel geared toward college students or a large formal chain that appeals to school groups if you’re a more mature solo traveler looking to strike up conversations with others like you.
Don’t like hostels? Then sign up for a couple of group activities. A cooking class, a hike, a history tour. Pick something to appeals to your personal interests. You’ll meet likeminded individuals.
Worse comes to worst, spend a few hours enjoying your own company. There’s such a stigma attached to doing things alone, and to be honest, I don’t understand it whatsoever. Embrace the solitude.
4. Nope, Still Afraid to Travel. What if I Hate to Eat Alone?
Ahhh, I feel your pain here. I have a fear of eating alone in public. I’ve even skipped meals over my anxiety regarding solo dining. Yup, I’ve opted for an empty stomach cause I didn’t want other patrons to judge me. Never again!
I have a couple suggestions for those of you who dread eating alone.
- Go on a food tour. Now you’re with lots of other people and your guide will escort you to the best places in a new city. You don’t need to think, use Yelp, or make any of the hard decisions. All you have to do is enjoy every delicious morsel. Yummy!
- Eat lunch. Lunch is waaaaay more relaxed than dinner. Better deals, too. You’ll also share the food establishment with local workers, who are also eating alone and thus couldn’t care less that you’re a solo diner.
- Go at “off peak” times. Plan your meal times. Avoid eating Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Sunday morning when families, groups of friends, and couples pack the restaurants.
- Aim for a casual place with outdoor seating or a bar. You have the best chance striking up a conversation at a bar. Additionally, you won’t feel bad about taking up an entire table and can enjoy your meal in peace.
At the end of the day, don’t let your awkwardness about eating alone stop you from taking the trip of your dreams.
Read More: What If I Feel Anxious Traveling Alone?
5. What if My Parents Get Mad at Me?
Talking to worried family and friends about your travels is hard for a lot of people. It’s especially tough when you want to avoid conflict at all costs. I understand you don’t want your nervous parents to get angry with you. I hate it when others aren’t happy with my choices.
So what to do? Here’s my advice for addressing “travel adverse” family members. It won’t be easy. There may be tears. But have confidence in yourself and your dreams. You’re both worth the energy. I promise.
- Give your parents an itinerary. You should do this anyway. It makes it easier for your parents to contact you in case of an emergency.
- Take a short trip with your parents. Don’t give me that look! You’ll have fun! Plus you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate to your parents just how capable you are. You don’t need to go on a longer trip either. Try a weekend getaway for starters.
- Opt for a group tour. And don’t worry. Guided tours are not the devil. You’ll still have a great time despite giving up some degree of independence.
- If you’re financially independent, then go on your trip regardless of parental blessings. Let’s say your parents are paying for your travels. Then you’re stuck and need to make them happy. However, if you’re footing the bill, then you should do whatever you want even though it feels uncomfortable. Just don’t allow yourself to get sucked into blowout fights.
At the end of the day, do whatever makes you happiest including travel. Your parents will eventually hope on board.
6. I’m Afraid to Travel Alone, Because What if I Feel Bored?
A lot of people worry about feeling bored on their solo travels. I understand. In order to stop boredom, create a rough itinerary in place for your trip so you have some sort of structure to look forward to.
For example, if you love museums, pick a few places to visit and scatter them throughout your itinerary.
Furthermore, check out all the things to do in your destination. Take a day trip and you’ll be far too busy to feel bored.
Now packing your itinerary tooooo much is a mistake. You lose time for meeting amazing new people or exploring a cool local neighborhood. And okay, let’s say you feel bored one afternoon. Don’t beat yourself up over those quiet moments. Instead of moping about boredom, use the extra time for meaningful reflection.
7. What if Solo Travel is Dangerous?
Solo travel isn’t dangerous.
Okay, let me rephrase that statement. Solo travel isn’t necessarily more dangerous than doing things alone in your daily life.
Think about it. You go to the grocery store alone. Doctors’ appointments alone. Walks to the park alone. Drive to your job alone. You actually do a lot alone.
Take normal precautions on your solo trip and you’ll be fine. Now some destinations are “higher risk” than others, and you don’t want to ignore specific concerns. Instead do your research ahead of the time to mitigate the risks. For example, register with your country’s embassy prior to traveling, and make sure to study the “safe” areas of any new cities you’re staying in.
Don’t be afraid to travel automatically, because you’re scared of potential violence. Your odds of falling victim to a crime lessen when you’re prepared and confident.
8. Will My Friends Think I’m a Loser for Traveling Alone?
Um. Say what? A loser??
First of all, you need to care less about what other people think of you. Easier said than done, but regardless. Do whatever you want.
As for your friends, sorry to say, if your friends think you’re a “loser” for any reason, then you need to find new friends. More likely, your social circle will be impressed that you’re able to brave the world with no one except yourself for companionship.
“Solo travel” and “loser” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. Ever, ever, ever. And it’s definitely not a valid reason to be scared to travel alone.
No, Rachel. What if I Hate Traveling Alone?
Okay, it’s time for me to say something controversial. Let’s say you’re finally on your solo trip and feel absolutely miserable. Not a little uncomfortable, but physically sick due to your unhappiness. You were afraid to travel alone, but all your fears turned out to be founded, after all.
You know what?
It’s okay. You feel what you feel. And that is okay.
I know bloggers seem to insist solo travel is for everyone, but frankly, if you don’t enjoy your solo trip, you don’t need to go alone again. Look into a tour next time. Or try to recruit friends to travel with you.
Personally, I love traveling with other people, but necessity makes me travel alone. I love solo travel. I do.
However, you need to do whatever makes you feel happiest. And if taking fewer trips with friends and family make you more comfortable with traveling, then so be it! Do you!
Don’t be afraid to travel alone. I honestly think you will be fine. But tell me your reasons for feeling scared. I’ll do whatever I can to help you! Reach out in the comments.
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