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Solo travel is amazing and transformative, but it’s not always easy. Whether you’re trying to gather the courage to plan that dream trip, or waiting to finally leave, you’re probably going to experience a roller coaster of emotions. And though you’re probably super excited (I hope so!), it’s often inevitable to experience another feeling: fear. Keep reading to explore eight fears you face as a solo traveler and six tips on how to overcome them.
Related: First time solo traveling? Check out my complete guide to traveling alone for the first time (plus a FREE interactive checklist for planning your trip)!
The 8 Fears
Have you ever found yourself asking these questions while planning, preparing to leave for, or on a big trip?
What if I…
- … never figure out where I want to go or what I want to do?
- … never find the money to make this happen?
- … am not prepared for a different lifestyle?
- …. can’t communicate with others to get what I need?
- … get lonely?
- … don’t make any friends?
- … can’t get the right food?
- … miss my family and friends too much?
These fears are a powerful force that is not to be underestimated. They can convince you of terrible lies, and keep you from realizing your wildest dreams – if you let them.
So I’m here to show you how to overcome them – now.
The Scariest Part of Traveling
Here’s the scariest part of traveling (and you may not even realize it). Though in reality, most of these fears are nothing to actually worry about, they aren’t completely unjustified, either. For example, when I moved to Albania to intern solo for a summer, I had never solo traveled before. I had also never owned my own apartment or legitimately cooked for myself. Certainly, I didn’t know how to speak Albanian.
But guess what? I survived!
How did I do it? After some struggling, I decided not to let all of these “what-ifs” bog me down. It’s only natural to have fears; you want to make sure that above all else, you’re happy, healthy, and safe. But when these fears get out of control, they can get in the way of you truly enjoying your travels. Try the steps below to overcome your fears and start making your travel dreams a reality.
Related: Worried about safety? Read about the top 7 safest places to travel alone in Europe here.
How to Overcome Your Fears
1. Remind yourself of times you’ve been resilient to change or hardship
We’ve all experienced a little hardship in our lives. Remember a time in your life that you’ve had to overcome something big – maybe you almost quit something because it got too difficult, or maybe you had to move away from family for your education or career. By doing this, you’ll see that you’ve already looked adversity in the eye and faced it head-on. Yes, sometimes the going gets tough, but you’ve gotten through it before, and you can certainly do it again. You’re already more prepared for this than you think.
2. Realize what got you through those hardships
What got you through those hardships? Skills. You have skills. Whether it’s assertiveness, mindfulness, reflection, or flexibility, remember that you have the skills to deal with whatever hardships come your way on your adventure. Recall how those skills were put into action. Think about how you might be able to use them on your upcoming trip. Skills like self-awareness, connection, and flexible thinking will all help build resiliency.
3. Research, prepare, repeat
At my foundation, I’m a researcher. For example, anything I’m about to buy, wear or do, I research it first. Knowledge is power, and often learning more about what exactly it is you’re afraid of will help put you at ease. Try finding a news source in your native language from your destination to keep up-to-date with what’s going on there. Anxious about loneliness? Look up meetups online in your location with apps like Couchsurfing or Meetup. You can also plan to visit hostels in your city to meet other travelers if you won’t already be staying in one. Worried about the water cleanliness? Research and purchase a nice filtered water bottle that will help you relax at the thought of potential contamination. I personally love the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle – it got rid of all my fears in Albania!
4. Share your thoughts with an audience (big or small)
Consider blogging about your experiences through a free blog service like WordPress or Blogspot. You could even vlog about it on YouTube. Even if you’re the only one viewing your work, documenting your experiences online is a great way to get express your thoughts and feelings. In addition, it gives you a sense of communication and sharing with others. Bonus: you’ll have a great record of your amazing experience to look back on for years to come!
Related: Want an amazing destination to match your amazing experience? Check out these top 12 solo travel destinations in Europe!
5. Set up a regular time to communicate with family and friends
This is a majorly important action item for a number of reasons. Firstly, by regularly communicating with loved ones, it will reassure them that you’re safe and sound. This is especially helpful if your parents or friends were resistant to the idea of you traveling at first. Secondly, it will allow you to consistently connect with familiar faces and places. This will help you combat any culture shock or homesickness. If you do end up feeling a little lonely, this will make a huge difference in reminding you that you’re never completely alone, especially in our digital age. Don’t be afraid to tap into your support systems. You’ll be surprised by how much a quick Skype or phone call back home will boost your mood.
6. Remind yourself that fear doesn’t rule you
If you had stayed away from everything you’ve been afraid until now, your life would already be filled with so many regrets. This situation is no different. Remember that you are about to embark upon a journey that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’re making your travel dreams come true! Whether you’ll be teaching English, interning with a local organization, or simply traveling for the sake of travel, this trip will be your chance to learn about others. You will also be a representative of your home country while making your own kind of difference. Accept your fears, accept your doubts, and then make the decision to move on and just have fun!
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