How to overcome the fear of traveling alone
It’s no secret that I am an avid solo traveler, a consistent supporter of the venture for myself and my loved ones, and someone who encourages others to embark on their own journeys without friends and family. But I wasn’t always this way.
A decade ago, the thought of taking of trip with only myself would have been fraught with fear and questions: What would I actually do each day? Who would I talk to? What if I got caught up in an emergency situation?
These valid questions only serve the lingering fear that traveling by myself would be unfulfilling, a waste of time and money, and in the end, more isolating than staying at home on a weekend with a book of crossword puzzles (which still sounds like a fantastic weekend).
As I have written previously, I wasn’t always such a fervent traveler with a penchant for solitary journeys. But I have come to find that booking one plane ticket, a single hotel room, and making a restaurant reservation for one doesn’t have to require an absurd amount of courage or insatiable thirst for adventure. Below are a few tips for working through fears and to start considering your own foray into traveling solo.
Solo travel doesn’t have to be as daring as a solo trek across the Sahara or months upon months of backpacking across Europe. Start with something small and less intimidating, such as taking a trip out of the airport during a long layover (which is how I started!) or taking a short drive to a nearby park for a day of solo hiking. For peace of mind, let loved ones know where you’ll be and avoid wandering too far from the nearest phone signal.
Solo does not equal lonely.
Despite what many novice solo travelers may think, “solo” is not synonymous with “lonely.” In fact, if you select a major city for your solo venture, you may find it hard to even find alone time during your stay. Among throngs of other tourists, packed restaurants and bars, and countless opportunities for walking tours, it’s easy to mingle with both locals and other travelers, which can make for a great transition into solo travel. Baby step: I tend to book a base room or apartment in bigger towns and cities and include a few out-of-town day trips in my itinerary when I long for peace and quiet.
It’s hard to turn off the constant soundtrack in our heads, one replete with reminders, worries, and attempts to prepare for the next obstacle. Being still and embracing silence have long been struggles for me, but ones with which I challenge myself when I take a solo trip.
Embrace the trend.
Not only is solo travel more common than people may think, it is fast becoming a trend among travelers who are seeking a different way to get out of their comfort zones. Older generations may question the reasons behind this seemingly dangerous desire, but Millennials tend to put travel goals ahead of other goals such buying homes and raising families.
Younger travelers can take advantage of this trend with discounts across Europe and discounts around the world, or by booking a bed in a shared room at a hostel for a fraction of the price of a standard hotel room. Not only does this make travel more accessible for those just starting out, but it provides an instant social circle with which to converse and share stories, thus removing the fear of feeling alone.
What are your fears surrounding solo travel? How have you overcome them? Please comment below!
Lead photo: Boats in the bay. Marsaxlokk, Malta.