No matter the scenario, venturing into the unknown is no endeavor for the faint-hearted. Human beings are intrinsically wired to fear change; it’s in our DNA, and rewriting the “code” takes admirable courage. Solo traveling is no exception; the struggle is real. And if someone were to ask us, “Why? What’s stopping you? What are you scared of?” the answer would be vague and most likely dissatisfactory. So, what’s stopping us, really? The answer lies in the “desire vs. fear” vacuum, where we are torn between polar opposites. We WANT something badly, but at the same time, a little worm of doubt drills its way out of the subconscious and into the conscious parts, saying, “You can’t do it. You don’t have what it takes.” We’ll see about that. Here are our top tips for overcoming the fear of solo traveling.
Is it really that awkward?
Chirp-chirp, says the cricket. Is solo traveling really that awkward? Is the mere thought of dining out all by our lonesome in truth that shame-inducing? Well, it depends. It’s what we make of it. Is it going to be uncomfortable at first? Absolutely. That’s what first times are for; the unpleasantness of newfound joy. Some will stare and award us a pity glance or two. Some will laugh at our perplexing “I’m so alone/nobody loves me” selfie pose and cringe as they pass by. So we accept the scenario—full-on embrace. Whether touring European art hotspots or exploring the untamed beauty of the Far East, remembering why we’re there is crucial: we’re traveling for our own entertainment. And we couldn’t be happier. So, to answer the question: No. Traveling solo is not awkward. Not one bit.
Straight to the source
To overcome the fear of traveling alone, we must first indulge in a healthy, lengthy monologue. Self-examination style. So, what’s at the root of our anxiety? What do we fear? Getting mugged or attacked? Getting lost? Sold into slavery? Loneliness? Boredom? Identifying the culprit is essential. Is the fear tangible? Are we dealing with rational concerns, or are we being led by intrusive, intangible, looming discomfort? That’s okay, too. We just need to talk it out. As it turns out, more often than not, our fears have little to do with safety or health concerns (if we’re preparing for an adventure in Africa – vaccines, health checks, etc.) but more with being scared of spending some quality alone time. Interesting thought, isn’t it? Do we dread our own company? Are we boring? We hope not!
Accommodate the fears
Have a seat; the kettle is on. Some fears don’t go away. And that’s how it should be; our innate sense of fear is what ultimately keeps us safe from harm. The trepidation around solo traveling will not vanish into thin air, so we probably shouldn’t try so hard to chase it off. There’s a reason for everything. Fear is what keeps us in check. Without exquisitely curated psychological breaks, we’re likely to not think straight and get ourselves into some kind of trouble (and not the fun kind).
Additionally, the strategy of ignoring our fears can only ricochet. The more we avoid something, the stronger and bigger it gets. Instead of finding ourselves in a state of constant puzzlement and indecisiveness, we should acknowledge the fears we carry and say, “Hop on; we have a plane to catch.”
Lonesome little raindrop
Solo travel blues are real. The initial zeal starts to wear off, and by the time we get to the gate, we’re left with nothing but the fear of sheer loneliness. Out of the blue: existentialism 101, borderline stoicism. Oh, the traveling martyr. A bit comical, isn’t it? Overcoming the fear of solo traveling is exceptionally easy. It only takes one step, and that’s shifting the perspective. Alone time is precious, a true privilege. Also, sounds familiar? “God, why do I have to go to that party? I want to stay home, watch Netflix, and eat some nachos.” We desperately need our quality one-on-no-one time. So, before we hop on a plane to Southern California and enjoy some fine weather and its best restaurants, we better get our narrative straight. Are we happy to try some local food and superior surfing spots, or are we simply devastated?
“Why am I going on this trip?” Asking ourselves this question is essential; answering it is paramount. What’s the driving force behind this bold decision? Why are we really going? Solo travel is intriguing and oftentimes transforming experience, as it opens many questions about self. There are no wrong answers to the question “Why?”. We all have our reasons, and they are all more than valid. Some seek enlightenment and opportunities for inner growth, while others crave pure thrill, adventure, and absolute elation. What’s ours? By closely examining our why’s, we will come to understand the very importance of the journey and all the benefits that come with it. The more our mind aligns with our motive, the less fear our bodies will experience. One thing is for certain: solo travel pushes our comfort zone’s frontiers.
Do the research
For first-time solo travelers (especially female travelers), research time is more than recommended. We want to disappointment-proof the experience and leave nothing to chance. (well, not nothing, we want spontaneity, too) So, time to do the work. Search engine: travel guides. Modern-day luxury? Every bit of information can be found online, from the best solo travel countries lists to local laws and customs. How does this help with conquering fear? Knowledge boosts our confidence. The more prepared we are, the more comfortable we will feel about traveling alone to a distant, foreign country. We got this. We know stuff.
And possibly the best tip for overcoming the fear of solo traveling: keep doing it. And make it your comfort zone. Don’t give up on your first try. Solo traveling, as with anything else, takes some getting used to. Do it once, do it twice, and you’ll be hooked without even knowing it.
Author name: Oskar Aguilar