• Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?

    by  • Travel Fears • 38 Comments

    Do you want to travel but you haven’t booked a ticket yet because you don’t have anyone to travel with? Have you considered traveling solo but your fears are holding you back? I was scared too for several years before I finally booked my first solo trip, and afterwards I wondered why I waited so long. It’s perfectly normal to be afraid to travel alone, but there are so many benefits to solo travel. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should give it a try.

    afraid to travel alone

    You will meet people when you travel alone

    Being a solo traveler actually makes you more approachable. Locals will usually reach out to help if you look lost. In some parts of the world locals might find it strange to see you traveling on your own, especially if you’re female, but it’s only because they’re not used to it. I’ve had locals in Southeast Asia strike up a conversation with me because they were curious about me as a solo traveler, and they were incredibly friendly.

    Are You Afraid to Travel Alone? - Dubrovnik

    Other travelers, especially other solo travelers, will be more likely to join you for a meal if you’re alone instead of part of a couple or group. Some of the travelers you’ll meet while traveling alone can even turn into lifelong friends. You already share something major in common, a desire to see the world. But even if you never speak to that person again, you had a friend for a day or a week, and people often end up being the highlight of the trip. When you’re already traveling with a friend or partner, you tend to stay inside that bubble, and you don’t often meet other travelers.

    You can be more flexible when you travel alone

    When you travel with someone else, there’s always some kind of compromise during the trip. Maybe you want to take a day tour but your friend doesn’t. Maybe you want to go hiking but your friend wants to go shopping. When you travel alone, you get to do exactly what you want every time. You will have the flexibility to plan your entire trip the way you feel comfortable without having to worry about someone else’s desires.

    Are You Afraid to Travel Alone? - Corinth, Greece

    Not only does this mean you only have to do what you want to do, but you can also be more spontaneous. Maybe you thought you’d wake up and go to a museum one day, but if the sun is shining, you can change your mind and go for a walk in a park or go to the beach instead. You can even change your plans more drastically and move on to another city on a whim if the desire hits you. It’s all up to you.

    You will gain confidence when you travel alone

    Traveling alone can certainly be scary. But when you get to your destination, navigate the streets, find your hotel, make yourself understood despite a language barrier, and book a day tour all on your own in a foreign land, something starts to change. You suddenly realize you can do things on your own. Even something simple you do alone at home all the time takes a lot more effort abroad. When you accomplish the task, your confidence will start to soar.

    You’ll have to figure out a lot of things on your own that might be easier if you had a friend around. I know that might not sound like a good thing, but once you do figure those things out (and you will!) you’ll feel stronger and better able to depend on yourself. When I travel alone, I sometimes struggle with things in the moment, but the confidence boost I get makes it all worth it.

    Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?

    Always remember that it’s ok to be afraid to travel alone. But don’t let that fear stop you from booking a ticket and traveling. There’s a big exciting world out there waiting to be explored. Start small to ease your way in, but I strongly encourage you to give solo travel a try. You’ll meet interesting people, you’ll have loads of flexibility, and best of all you’ll gain a huge amount of confidence. These are just a few of the reasons I like to travel alone, and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

    Don’t forget to check out How to Travel Alone!

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    38 Responses to Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?

    1. Matthew Cheyne
      November 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Looking back to when I first traveled solo back in 2001, it was the fear of the unknown that initially held me back. All those what ifs though turned into why nots when I arrived in Sydney on an overnight train from Melbourne. Finding somewhere to stay at 6.30am in the morning – something that should have been scary to me at the time was instead exhilirating and wonderful.

      One of the most beautiful yet understated things about solo travel is the ability to chart your own course, make your own history, tell your own story and hear about and be a part of the story of others as well.

      Two of the most powerful realizations that we can gain from solo travel are that we are all adequate and competent in our own ways when we need to be. Even people with disabilities such as blind people have managed to travel solo and make something of it. So it is really us and our fears that are holding us back. The other most powerful realization you gain during solo travel is that no matter what culture you encounter, no matter where you travel, we are essentially one people sharing one planet. The borders are merely arbitrary. The fundamentals however are the same wherever you go. People want to be happy, live long lives in peace and prosperity, to love and be loved. We are in essence all one.

      • Ali Garland
        November 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        Matthew, this is such a beautiful comment! Fear of the unknown is huge. Our minds blow that way out of proportion, making things seem scarier and scarier. “Why not” is so right! When you really think about it, why not go somewhere on your own? And I totally agree, we are all fundamentally the same no matter what our backgrounds are or where we live. People in another city or country aren’t scary just because they’re not from the same place, they’re just people.

        I’m so glad you took the leap to try solo travel! Now I just need to get you to travel outside of Australia! :-)

      • Mike
        May 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

        I agree Ali it is beautiful. Fear of the unknown is huge indeed. I want to go to lots of places and don’t really want to go alone. Maybe partly due to fear and partly because maybe I’m perceiving it to not be interesting not sharing it with others.

        • Ali Garland
          May 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm

          I can definitely understand that fear, Mike! Sometimes the best way to overcome a fear is to just face it head on. Traveling by yourself isn’t any less interesting (in my opinion) and even if you don’t have a good friend to share the experience with, you will often meet other travelers to share those moments with. Plus sometimes it’s just really nice to have that time to yourself. The flexibility of solo travel can’t be beat. And it’s a great way to build confidence. I hope you give it a try!

          • Mike
            May 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm

            Hey thanks for your reply and you are right the only way to get over any fear is by just doing it. I never thought of travelling like that really, thanks :)

            • Ali Garland
              May 16, 2014 at 8:43 pm

              No problem Mike, let me know if you ever have any travel questions!

    2. November 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      My biggest concern about traveling solo are solo road trips. I always have a fear of the car breaking down, especially in a foreign country. But I never let that stop me from hitting the road every weekend while Tim was deployed to Afghanistan. It not only kept me busy, but I also discovered some great places I was excited to show him once he got back. I’d always rather be traveling with Tim, but when he can’t go, I don’t have a fear of going on my own.

      • Ali Garland
        November 13, 2012 at 11:14 pm

        I can totally understand being nervous about a solo road trip in another country. But I’m glad you still go for it. As long as you take some precautions, like having a cell phone, knowing some car basics, stuff like that, you won’t panic quite as much if something does happen. I know what you mean about traveling with Tim. I’d much rather travel with Andy now, but I loved traveling alone before I met him. And if some situation arises where it makes sense for me to go solo, I know I can handle it and I’ll have fun.

    3. November 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      Traveling solo is great, I traveled the whole 2011 by myself (well, two months with my sister), and I met so many people. It does indeed give you a lot more flexibility on what you want to do, see and eat. And like mentioned before, you will not be alone, you will meet a lot of people!

      • Ali Garland
        November 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm

        Thanks Jarmo! I love the flexibility of traveling by myself, and I’ve met so many great people. It’s a different way of seeing the world, and that can be really good.

    4. November 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Excellent post! The first time I traveled alone, I was shocked to find that I felt immense relief! I arrived in Rome with no real set plans, no one else’s schedule to accomodate, nothing but myself and my bag. And I didn’t have to feel guilty about wanting to take a two-hour midday nap or not see some of the famous touristy things. I could do things my way. I could just be. It was incredibly freeing and I’m always glad to see people being encouraged to try it. Solo travel is still, to this day, a huge relief to me. For a short time, we can be only responsible to ourselves.

      • Ali Garland
        November 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        Thanks Gigi! There is definitely an element of relief when you travel by yourself. Knowing you only have yourself to worry about can make things so much easier sometimes. There’s so much freedom in it. It seemed so scary to me when I first tried solo travel, and once I realized how wonderful it can be, I’ve been a huge advocate of at least trying it once.

    5. November 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Traveling alone might be my favorite way to travel, and for a lot of the reason you mentioned. It seems that all the long term friends I have made have been when I am traveling alone. In ffact when I am traveling alone I am hardly ever alone, iIt is easier to meet people because you have to. Where if you are traveling with one or two other people you have a comfort zone and don’t have to be so outgoing. I am also addicted to the sense of accomplishment you get when you reach your destination alone. Traveling alone makes you a stronger person all around.

      • Ali Garland
        November 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        Thanks Stephen! I know what you mean about that sense of accomplishment. Even small things can seem like big triumphs when you’re traveling on your own. Traveling alone has definitely made me a stronger person, which is why I highly recommend it to others, even just to try it once. I’m glad you’ve also made lots of friends while traveling solo, it’s so much fun to meet other people that way.

    6. November 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      My first solo trip was definitely scary, but I learned so much. I proved to myself that I am the navigator I thought I was. I stayed in large hostel rooms so I was able to meet other travelers. I could take off doing wahtever I want, not worried about waht other people wanted to do or how much they wanted to spend. Although I still prefer traveling with someone else, it was an important experience I will never forget.

      • Ali Garland
        November 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm

        I’m glad you had a good experience with solo travel even if it was a bit scary. It’s still kind of scary for me sometimes and I’ve been doing it for years. But as soon as I get there, I remember why I like solo travel. I do prefer to travel with my husband now, but I’m so glad I had that solo travel experience.

    7. November 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      Ali, so true. You know even at home I don’t let solo status stop me. Dinner out, solo? Yes! But sit at the bar where others can easily join you. If you take a table, you cancel many opportunities for conversation with others.

      • Ali Garland
        November 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm

        Great tip, eating at the bar instead of getting a table is a great way to have other people to talk to. If nothing else, you’ll get to chat with the bartender. Thanks Maria!

    8. December 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      I am ashamed to say I haven’t done too much solo travel. And now that I’ve gotten used to travelling with John I doubt I will be doing any. I’m sure I’ve missed out on a lot not having some adventures on my own though.

      • Ali Garland
        December 16, 2012 at 11:48 pm

        Well, if an opportunity ever presents itself for you to travel on your own, even for just a few days, give it a try. Solo travel is a great experience to try at least once. But I understand about traveling with John, I do love traveling with Andy now.

    9. December 17, 2012 at 1:27 am

      The only thing I dislike about travelling along is that sometimes I get lazy and I need someone else around to motivate me to try new things or go outside my comfort zone

      • Ali Garland
        December 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        I know what you mean, I get like that occasionally too. That’s why I usually plan and research more when I’m traveling solo, I’m more likely to go do stuff if I have even a rough plan.

    10. December 17, 2012 at 6:28 am

      I love traveling alone. The only downside is it means I have to finance the trip instead of hubby! lol

      • Ali Garland
        December 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        Ha! Yeah, that could be a little more annoying!

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    12. December 17, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      It’s been a while since I’ve truly traveled solo for more than just a few days. It scares me every time, but I know it’s something that makes me stronger and is well worth the bit of uncomfortable feelings that come up before a solo trip. Great post!

      • Ali Garland
        December 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm

        Thanks Christy! Funny how that works, it’s always a little scary for me too, even after so many solo trips, but I always know I will be fine too. It definitely makes me stronger, and I love solo travel for that.

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    14. February 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      My favorite part of traveling solo is that it is the exact experience you want. If you have a bad time then the only person you can blame as yourself. And to your point, I never feel lonely and have met the most wonderful people when traveling by myself. I think you are much more open and accessible for meeting new people versus when traveling with groups of people. To me half the experience is meeting the locals.

      • Ali Garland
        February 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

        Thanks Jenna! It’s so good to hear you’ve also had such good experiences traveling solo. It’s not as scary as you think when you first set out there, and you do have so many opportunities to meet wonderful people along the way.

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    19. Caitlin
      July 21, 2013 at 1:08 am

      After all the things I have read online I am still so scared to travel alone.. I won’t even be travelling alone ill be meeting with someone at my final destination but just the flight alone is enough to scare the crap out of me!
      I don’t know what steps to take to feel confident enough to fly alone?
      I’m scared of the unknown, I’m scared of being alone on a flight so far from home and I’m scared it will give me feelings of anxiety, I’m afraid that if something happens to me on the way over to Europe how will I cope, I’ll have noone :(
      Any suggestions of how to overcome these feelings because I am really really terrified

      • Ali Garland
        July 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

        Hi Caitlin! It’s totally normal to be scared, but I think the only way to get past it is to just do it. Try to focus on the fun things you will be doing and the great things you will be seeing once you arrive. The flight is the boring part. Bring something to read and your iPod so you can entertain yourself on the flight, sleep if you can, and just keep reminding yourself how much fun you’re going to have when you get to Europe. You CAN do this! Email me if you have any questions or want any help with anything. And have a great trip!

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