Solo travel can seem intimidating. I remember reading other solo travel blog posts looking for inspiration to just do it and buy the ticket, but I was so freaked out!
Eventually, I realized this truth: The confidence I read and saw in other solo travelers won’t come until I dive in and actually do it myself.
It’s completely normal to feel anxious and fearful of something challenging like solo travel, but don’t let it stop you. Accept the fact that what you’re doing is honestly, anxiety inducing. Traveling solo takes guts and courage, and most things that take guts and courage are gonna give you butterflies.
I came up with 3 ways I overcame my fear of solo travel in hopes it’ll help you pursue your dreams too! If you take anything away from this read, take that one truth I laid out above: the confidence you see in other solo travelers won’t come until you dive in on a solo trip yourself. Don’t put crazy expectations on yourself that you are going to be the most zenned out person doing something totally out of your comfort zone. It’s normal to feel fearful, but there are ways we can reduce the fear.
1) Don’t give fear and anxiety power
Fear is inevitable, so don’t fight it. Use it to motivate you to push onward. Never let it play a part in decision making; otherwise, you’ll never buy the plane ticket. How many times do we listen to our fear/anxiety/negative voice in our heads? Way. too. much. It’s the reason that many people never work towards their dreams. It’s easy to get caught up in the what ifs and imaging the worst, but it’s absolutely detrimental. We need to replace those fears with supportive thoughts that will help us stay centered on our goal. Mindset is huge in achieving dreams. Believing and persisting in the midst of challenge produces strength to make it to the goal of buying that plane ticket! If you need help changing the anxious narrative in your mind, check out this post about changing your mindset.
While learning to not give my power to those anxieties and fears was helpful in overcoming my concerns of solo travel, do not get the impression I was not nervous or fearful during the time leading up to take-off. I ebbed and flowed back in forth between “I got this!!” and “OMG, what am I doing??” But the main goal is no matter how much you waver between doubt and confidence, you get on the plane!
I’m planning a trip now to a part of the world I’ve never been to, so I’m back to the ebb and flow of the preparation time. But it gets easier each time because you accumulate evidence that you’ve done big things before and can do them again. I’ve noticed my personal ebb and flow looks the same in any project I commit to that takes guts and courage. For me, it starts out with my intuition screaming, “YES! We have to do this thing!! It’s a little out there, but it’s gonna work and be great!” I get all pumped up and mentally commit to this goal or dream. Then, I vocalize it to someone. I send it out into the universe and now I gotta show up and walk the talk.
I usually feel super confident about for a good while……then the anxieties and doubts pop up. In these moments, I remind myself this is expected since I’m familiar with my personal ebb and flow process, but I can’t let it stop me. The reason I like to vocalize my dreams before they ever happen is so that I am held accountable to not abandon my dreams aka myself. If I’ve committed to them early on, then I’m 100% devoted to them. Plus, I’ve noticed, the universe will support those who dare to believe in the “impossible.”
2) Listen to your Intuition
Whenever I am in an ebb phase of “I don’t think this is gonna work out” some sign comes my way, that would only make sense to me, and my faith is renewed. I call these moments “God Moments.” Elizabeth Gilbert calls it “Big Magic.” Some people call them “Ah Ha Moments” and maybe you got your own name for it too. I believe if God put this spark in your heart then it will come to fruition, but God never asks easy things of us. So get ready for a challenge that’s gonna take a whole lotta faith, which is why I never hesitate to pray for a sign when things get tough.
3) Build Yourself Up with Knowledge and Skills
First, narrow down what it is about solo travel that worries you. Safety? Meeting other people? Food allergies? Foreign language? Maybe all the above!
Then find resources that can give you guidance on how to handle those challenges. For me, safety and whether I would meet others held me back the most. The funny thing is – I was never alone. In fact, I almost wanted more alone time during my solo travels haha! I was constantly meeting people and felt I met more people traveling solo than I ever did traveling in a group or with a friend. For safety concerns, I found taking a self-defense class among other tools helped build up my confidence. I wrote an article providing 9 safety and social tips including tips from my personal experience from solo travel, so if those concerns are big for you check that article out!
Others might be terrified of the language barrier. If that’s the case, do some research on what countries are most likely to speak your language. If you speak English, you’re lucky! But do learn daily greetings and custom sayings in your country’s host language. I found key phrases for various countries on Pinterest, so you can search for anything everywhere. Make sure you download the languages you need in Google Translate prior to leaving, so you don’t have to rely on WiFi for access. Go to your local library and find books on the country you’re interested in and read up! If you have time to learn a new language, check out apps like DuoLingo or Anki.
If you have a medical condition that concerns you with solo travel, there is likely someone out there writing about their experience. I came across a travel blogger with celiac disease, who shared how she ate gluten free while traveling. At the time, she was hiking El Camino de Santiago, where there aren’t as many food options compared to large cities. I found her posts not only interesting but extremely informative! Another travel blogger is a fellow dietitian on social media who shares how she manages her diabetes while traveling. So friends, there are resources out there. Start digging and build up your library of knowledge and skills! 🙂