How to get over the fear of solo travel
Is the first time scary for everyone?
Everyone should travel solo at least once in their life. It is a very rewarding experience that will leave the traveler feeling more confident and capable. Recently, I went on my very first solo travel trip but it took me a few months to feel comfortable enough to travel on my own. I get it, traveling alone can be scary especially if you are a woman. In fact, if someone had asked me two years ago if I would ever travel alone my answer would have been a definite "no". But oh how the times have changed. I have compiled a list of the top five biggest reasons people (and my past self) are afraid to travel alone and how to get over that fear. Let me start by saying that there are so many reasons to travel solo and only a few keeping people from the world. People travel solo not because they can't find someone to go with them, but they make the conscious choice to do so. Even if you prefer to travel with someone else, life is too short to wait around for others.
Is it safe? (Especially for women)
Nowhere is ever truly 'safe'. There will always be danger no matter where in the world you go. Our own home towns can be filled with crime but we don't typically think about it. Typically, we don't spend hours worrying about how safe we will be on our way to work or if we will be safe walking down the street. Solo travel is safe as long as the traveler is prepared, aware and smart. I traveled on my own to a big city and only felt unsafe one time, but that was because a group of strangers began calling after me. I pulled out my phone and pretend to talk to someone and after a little while, they left me alone but I have encountered the same thing in my own town and knew how to handle the situation. My point in telling this story is to show you that traveling is just like being at home. However, even when we are at home we understand our surroundings and act accordingly.
What if I get lost?
I have traveled outside and inside the United States for years and can say that if you plan ahead and are responsible, it is very hard to get lost while traveling. Most countries have internet and most phones have access to WiFi so using Google Maps and Apple Maps shouldn't be an issue. However, if you are going to a place where there is no service, you can print out a map or ask a local. I have found that most people are more than willing to help. When you are at home you may need to find new places, like a new job or a friend's house. In that case, you would use an app like Google Maps. You would do the same thing in a foreign country or city. Sometimes it can be fun to get a little lost! There are plenty of hidden gems to be found in foreign places but the best way to avoid getting lost is to plan ahead and make sure you have a way to contact others.
What if I get lonely?
This was easily one of my biggest fears. I hate feeling alone and being alone, but there is strength in learning how to be alone. I also knew that if I kept waiting for someone to be able to travel with me, I could be waiting forever. If you are terrified of being alone for long periods, then take a shorter trip. I was only gone for a few days, and it went by very quickly. I will admit, it was very strange staying in a hotel by myself, but I was also able to sit and read and just enjoy the quiet. There are plenty of things that you can do to avoid being lonely like blasting music in headphones, watching videos or movies, or going out and exploring the nightlife. I did meet quite a few people on my solo trip and I have heard numerous stories of travelers making friends on the road.
My family and friends don't approve
So your loved ones are afraid for you. I hear about this happening quite a bit and it is understandable. People will always think traveling is more dangerous than it really is. There are dangerous places and people, yes, but the world is not as scary as some may think. Ask your loved ones to trust that you are a capable adult who has a plan. If you are traveling on your own, I assume that you have put a lot of time and effort into thinking about exactly how you are going to make your first solo travel trip. I waited a very long time before telling my family that I wanted to travel alone, and they were surprisingly very supportive of me. While our loved one's opinions matter very much to us, in the end, it is our lives and we make the choices.
What if I get bored?
I find traveling to be extremely exciting. There are new places to explore and people to meet and food to eat! But I also get this question a lot. If you are worried about being bored, just make sure you plan enough activities. When I solo traveled to Seattle, I left myself too much free time and ended up spending hours in a library one day because I had done all that I wanted to do. I wasn't bored, but I could see why someone might be worried about such a thing. I enjoy not over-scheduling myself so that I can have time to explore and make any unplanned stops. In the end, solo travel is not something you need to fear. In fact, solo travel is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The world is large and there is so much exploring left for us to do. Take all the time you need to conquer your fears and plan the trip you have always wanted to take. It took me just under a year to feel comfortable enough to travel alone, but it was one of the greatest experiences of my life!