Solo travelling… my thoughts and common fears

Travelling alone has always been a concern of mine. In my years of taking trips, I’ve always had familiar people around to make me feel safe. I’m used to having someone around but all that has changed since I begun travelling regularly. Friends don’t have time or money to travel as much as they would like. Others are pursuing their various careers. I knew that I wanted to travel and see the world more, that I had to go it alone.

Right now, I’m travelling part time.  Whether it be a few days, weeks or months at a time, I still have alot to think about each time I plan a trip. However, when I’m feeling a little scared, I immediately try to think of the good things about where I’m going.

I have to give credit to Nomadic Matt blog post about 10 common fears that stops you from travelling solo by Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse. It really woke me up to what I was feeling and what was holding me back. Knowing that I’m not the only female traveler, I felt inspired to talk about my own concerns and the good.

Concerns about travelling alone

For some, travelling by yourself is not an issue. They just pick up and go without fear. It’s easy for someone like me to overthink the situation I may face instead of the experiences I will have. Some fears that I had are:

  • Safety– especially in countries with a conservative culture for women
  • Loneliness, boredom and shyness– meeting people along the way and if they’re friendly
  • Getting sick or lost– somehow if I manage to get lost somewhere or fall sick, I’m all alone
  • Unexpected challenges– cultural differences, irritating and difficult moments

These are the thoughts that comes to mind, each time I leave for my next destination. I admit that sometimes, it stops me from going to certain places all together. If I continue to let these fears rule my life and mind, then I will never get the chance to live my dreams. This is a new thing for me and it takes time. Here’s the truth about these fears:

  • Safety– the best thing you can do is be mindful of other cultures and adjust to it. Solo travelling, especially for women, safety and being alert is key just as you would at home. You can always ease yourself into it by join tour groups in different locations. Check out online forums and facebook groups to see what plans are being made and how you can join.
  • Loneliness, boredom and shyness– This one I continue to overcome effortlessly. Here’s the reason why, even though I’ve been on many trips throughout my young life, my closest friends haven’t always been with me. I was either with classmates, youth group from church or a club. I can tell you that you can be lonely even with a large group around. You do feel shy and embarrassed trying to make friends with someone who isn’t interested. But boredom? NEVER. Pay attention to your surrounding. Where you are, what you’re doing and the feelings you have. It’s hard to be bored and the loneliness also goes away as soon as you get relaxed and let yourself have fun.
  • Getting sick or lost– I have gotten sick on trips with people with no one showing concerned, even teachers. It wasn’t until I got home that my mother notice I was. I dealt with it myself by getting medication or asking for help. I can shamelessly say that I got a little lost going to Hope Gardens last month (In all fairness, I haven’t gone in years). I got off at the wrong bus stop and asked people for directions. After a 3 mile walk, I made it there. You can ask for help and use things like google maps to help you find your way.
  • Unexpected challenges– “Expect the unexpected”. Words I have heard my whole life. This has been the reality of my life for the last five years. But here’s another famous quote for you, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Life takes unexpected turns no matter where you are. Whether you’re on the road or at home, there are circumstances that you may face that will frustrates you. How you deal with them and what you learn will be what defines you.

The benefits of solo travel and facing your fears

The pluses always outweighs the minuses for me. In our heads we tend to think it’s always better to have someone around. That is true in many situations but not necessarily when it comes to travel. There are so many experiences, adventures and fun to be had on every trip. Doing it alone can be one of the most rewarding things. So what are some positives about travelling alone?

  • Do what you want, when you want– with no one around to tell you “No”, you change your plans as much as you want. If you want to go on a nature walk instead of a museum, whose there to stop you? Wanna head to Switzerland instead of Portugal? Then go! You chose your itinerary and make it happen.
  • Meet other cool travelers like yourself– I heard it so may times and experienced it myself. There are people travelling year after year. Over a million of them are female solo travelers. Especially if you stay in hostels, you’re likely to make friends by dinner. And a few days later, you’re out having fun with them.
  • Grow confidence– If you’re extremely shy, solo travel helps you break out of it slowly but surely. You’ll become aware, face challenges and learn to overcome each obstacle. Every doubt that you have will subdue and your confidence will soar.
  • Time for deep thoughts and reflections– The time that you have to yourself can be a huge learning curve. Everything that you’ve went through, have seen and done will open your mind and heart. You’ll become knowledgeable and mindful.
  • Full attention on experiences– Speaking of mindfulness, with no one there to distract you. You’re more focused and attentive. You’ll notice alot and be engaged in whatever you’re doing. Chances of you missing too much will be slim.
  • It’s easier to budget– Things like dining, accommodation and activities can get expensive the more people you have with you. You end up paying part of your friend’s unexpected snacks. It’s easier to spend within you’re estimated budget when you have yourself to worry about.
  • Makes you a more experienced traveler– Going it alone not only builds your self esteem, but teaches you. Handling your own bookings and getting around can become a fun challenge instead of a chore you have to handle before the real fun begins. You’re able to share that knowledge with others seeking to travel and give meaningful advice.

Did you know that travel can help increase your overall physical and mental health? I recently came across an insightful post on Positive Health Wellness by Karen Reed. It talks about the benefits of travel from improving your heart, lungs , lowering the risk for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Despite the moments of stress and worry, the personal and health gain surpasses everything. It really opened my mind to more benefits of travel than expected. You can read about why travelling is good for your health here.

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