Scared to Travel Alone? Conquering Solo Travel Fears

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There are a slew of reasons why people are hesitant to set off on their first solo travel experience. Concerns about travel safety, loneliness, and navigating unfamiliar environments alone are a few of the reasons it took me so long to embark on my first solo trip. When I finally made that leap, I learned that a solo journey can be a transformative and empowering experience. But for many, myself included, the mere thought of solo travel triggers a wave of apprehension that does not easily go away, no matter how many years of solo travel you have under your belt. 

In this blog post, I’m talking about the core reasons that scare many away from solo travel. But fear not! This post is not just about identifying the barriers – it’s a guide to conquering them. Let’s navigate through the fears that hold you back and discover how to pave the way to find your solo travel confidence.

10 Reasons You Are Scared to Travel Solo And How to Overcome Them

You may surprised at how many seasoned solo travelers still get nervous when heading to a new destination. The fear is common, but it’s what you allow that fear to do that is important. One of my favorite solo travel quotes, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” (Susan Jeffers), inspires me to push through the unknown and just go.

There is a lot of responsibility when traveling alone, and truthfully, solo travel is not for everyone. Solo travel involves navigating new cultures, languages, and environments, which can be uncomfortable for those accustomed to a routine. A travel companion provides an extra layer of security and support and offers someone to share experiences with, which typically enhances the overall travel experience. Understanding what to expect when embarking on your first solo travel adventure is an important step to enjoying a solo travel experience. Be honest with yourself, and if you feel like you are just not ready to take your first solo trip, that is ok. Start gaining confidence and come back to solo travel when you are ready.

I started traveling solo because I didn’t want to miss out on seeing the world while waiting on my perfect travel buddy (by the way, I’m still waiting ), so if you are like me and don’t want to miss out but need a little more encouragement before your first solo travel adventure, overcoming these 10 common solo travel fears is a step in the right direction.

I’m Scared of the Unknown

Embarking on solo travel can be daunting, especially for those grappling with solo travel anxiety. To conquer the fear of the unknown, stepping out of the comfort zone is crucial. Take a deep breath and acknowledge that bad things can happen anywhere, not just while traveling alone.

Often, the fear of travel stems from the imagination’s worst-case scenarios. Addressing this fear involves understanding that the biggest fear is often exaggerated. Embrace the journey one step at a time, research destinations thoroughly, and trust in your abilities. As you overcome challenges, you’ll find that the initial fear gradually fades, replaced by a newfound sense of empowerment and self-discovery. Experience gives you confidence. Take baby steps and expose yourself to the unknown slowly and deliberately.

There will always be unknowns in travel, whether solo or with a partner. It may be scarier to deal with the unknowns on your own, but once you do, you’ll be more at ease to deal with whatever comes up in the future. Overcoming fears of the unknown takes time, and it’s okay to start with small steps. Each positive experience will contribute to increased confidence, making future solo travel more enjoyable and less intimidating. 

Will People Judge Me?

Apprehension about being judged or treated differently as a solo female traveler is another reason many travelers are scared to travel alone.

Personally, wondering how people in other countries will respond to my traveling as a solo female American weighs heavily on where I decide to go and how I present myself. It is hard to escape judgments against solo female travelers, but it is important to know they stem from various sources, including cultural norms, gender stereotypes, or concerns about safety. 

Some people with traditional views may not comprehend the motivations and benefits of women choosing to travel alone, assuming it to be reckless or unconventional. Lack of knowledge about the experiences and positive aspects of solo journeys, along with negative portrayals of solo travel in the media, can lead to apprehension from family and friends, making you feel judged. 

Standing your ground and embracing your strength and independence is important to help promote a positive response to solo female travelers. While it’s natural for family members to worry, helping them understand your perspective and showcasing your preparedness can alleviate some of their concerns.

How to overcome concerns about judgment while traveling solo:

  • Walk with purpose and maintain confident body language to project self-assurance.
  • Dress in a way that aligns with local customs to avoid standing out unnecessarily.
  • Showcase your ability to navigate and make decisions independently, reinforcing your self-reliance.
  • Understand the local customs, culture, and safety tips. Being well-informed will help you navigate unfamiliar environments more confidently and allow you to respect local customs to minimize potential judgment.
  • Embrace your individuality. Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests, even if they differ from societal expectations.
  • Share your positive experiences with solo travel to challenge stereotypes and inspire others.
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What If I Get Lonely?

If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone – Maxwell Maltz. This solo travel quote says it all! While some people are more apt to enjoy being alone, it is harder for others to enjoy their own company. Feelings of loneliness are subjective and can vary widely from person to person. Some individuals may embrace solitude and not experience loneliness during solo travel, while others find joy in constant human interaction. Luckily, as a solo traveler, there are many ways to combat loneliness.

To overcome the fear of loneliness while traveling solo, focus on building connections. Engage with fellow travelers through Facebook groups, join group activities, or participate in local events to meet people. Stay in hostels or communal accommodations to foster a sense of camaraderie and be open to spontaneous interactions. Strategies such as proactively seeking social opportunities, connecting with others online, and cultivating a positive mindset can help mitigate feelings of loneliness during solo journeys.

When I first started traveling solo, I was too scared to meet new people and never told anyone I was a solo traveler. I kept to myself because I thought I was being “safe”.

While keeping a low profile and not drawing attention to yourself are good things to keep in mind when traveling solo, you also want to enjoy your experience. Feeling lonely can prevent you from doing that.

Some of my favorite things to do now while traveling solo are booking a small group tour, or an Eat with Locals dining experience to engage with others and meet new people. I’ve learned to loosen up and make more of an effort to make new connections while exploring a new destination. I now believe there are a lot more nice, genuine people out there than bad ones. 

Navigating In A New Country Is Intimidating- What If I Get Lost?

While some individuals may naturally excel in navigation, others may need to consciously develop and refine their skills over time. Some people get turned around easily and may not be able to find their way out of a paper bag. If this is you, I would consider joining a group tour or hiring a tour guide until you feel more comfortable navigating on your own.

Navigating trains, airports, roads and unfamiliar destinations can be scary if it is your first solo travel experience. There is nothing wrong with asking for directions, but you really do not want to appear frazzled or stressed, which could lead to unwanted attention and make you a target for petty theft or scams. Overcoming the fear of getting lost while navigating in a new country during solo travel involves preparation, planning, and a positive mindset. 

Here are some strategies to help alleviate your fear of getting lost:

  • Thoroughly research your destination before arrival. Familiarize yourself with maps, public transportation options, and key landmarks. Planning your route in advance can boost your confidence.
  • Use navigation apps on your smartphone like Google Maps or Maps.me to provide real-time directions, helping you navigate efficiently and reducing the chances of getting lost. 
  • Download offline maps to ensure you have reliable directions even when disconnected. 
  • Carry a physical map as a backup in case your digital maps fail. Just be conscious of where and when you use your map to avoid looking like a lost tourist-even if you are one!
  • Choose accommodations in central areas with easy access to public transportation and key attractions. 
  • If you have the budget, hire a driver, use Lyft, Uber or taxis that can easily take you where you want to go. Just be aware of the taxi culture in your destination. Sometimes taxis are known to rip you off (Hello Istanbul) or are not safe after dark. Taxis often request cash, so be prepared for that as well. 
  • If you do find yourself off course, stay calm. Getting lost is a common part of travel, and it often leads to unexpected discoveries. Embrace the adventure and be flexible in adjusting your plans.

I’m Worried Solo Travel Is Too Expensive 

Solo travel costs can vary widely depending on factors such as destination, travel style, accommodation choices, and personal spending habits. While solo travel can easily be expensive since you do not have anyone to share costs with, it doesn’t necessarily have to be more expensive than traveling with a companion. One advantage of solo travel is that you have full control over your budget. You don’t have to compromise on activities or accommodations to accommodate the preferences of others.

Accommodation

Budget hostels and hotels are a good way to save money, but I don’t recommend always staying at the cheapest accommodation just because it is cheap. Make sure to do your research and stay at hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, or hostels that are reputable, have good reviews, and are in a good area, making navigation easy. While this might incur some additional costs, it contributes to a sense of security.

Transportation

Walking or public transportation is always the most budget friendly option when traveling solo. Consider transportation costs if staying outside of the areas you will be visiting. You may save on accommodation costs but be paying the difference in transportation or parking fees to get to where you want to spend your time. 

Food

Solo travelers may spend more on dining out since they don’t share the costs of meals. However, they also have the flexibility to choose more affordable dining options like local markets and street food or cook their own meals if staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities. I often eat out once a day in the afternoon to try local cuisine and avoid higher price times like dinner. Choose a hotel with free breakfast and buy snacks from a grocery store to help cut food costs. 

Activities

Entrance fees, guided tours, and activities are generally the same for solo and group travelers. Some group discounts may be unavailable if you are booking for one, but solo travelers can tailor their activities to their preferences.

Instead of opting for guided tours, consider exploring a city independently. Use maps, guidebooks, or smartphone apps to create your own self-guided tour and save on tour guide fees. Renting a bike can be a budget-friendly way to explore a destination and allows you to cover more ground than walking. Many natural attractions and hiking trails are free or have a minimal entrance fee. Exploring the outdoors on foot is not only budget-friendly but also offers a sense of solitude.

Ultimately, solo travel can be as budget-friendly or as luxurious as you make it. By planning ahead, being mindful of expenses, and making informed choices, solo travelers can have an enriching and affordable travel experience.

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Self Reliance Scares Me. I’m Not Used To Making Decisions On My Own

Overcoming the fear of self-reliance and making decisions while traveling solo involves building confidence, gaining experience, and adopting a proactive mindset. 

To help you overcome this fear, begin with short trips or weekend getaways to nearby destinations. Gradually increase the duration and complexity of your solo travels as you gain confidence. Spend a day in your hometown or a familiar place by yourself. Practice making decisions about activities and meals and navigating the environment without relying on others. Addressing small challenges in your daily life and mini get-a-ways will help you build resilience and resourcefulness.

When you are ready for the next step, thoroughly research and plan your trip in advance. Having a well-thought-out itinerary can provide a sense of structure and reduce anxiety about decision-making on the go. Listen to your gut feelings and intuition when making decisions. Over time, this internal guidance system becomes more reliable. 

Don’t forget to celebrate small wins. Acknowledging and celebrating small successes, whether it’s navigating public transportation or trying local cuisine, builds a positive mindset. You’ll want to stay positive and flexible to allow yourself to easily navigate unexpected situations.

Remember that self-reliance is a skill that can be developed over time. By gradually exposing yourself to decision-making in various situations, you’ll build the confidence needed to navigate the complexities of solo travel. Each positive experience contributes to a greater sense of empowerment and self-assurance, helping to make informed decisions during solo adventures. 

I’m Worried I’ll Have A Negative Experience. Is Solo Travel Even Safe?

It’s a common misconception that solo travel is inherently dangerous. With proper planning, awareness, and precautions, solo travel is just as safe as any other form of travel. Being a safe traveler means using common sense, avoiding risky situations, and staying informed about crime rates and potential dangerous situations in unfamiliar places. Choose reputable public transportation options and research common scams and petty theft to avoid falling prey to them. By combining knowledge, personal experience, and awareness, you will empower yourself to overcome fears and explore new places confidently.

Negative experiences come with the territory. Whether it’s a taxi driver, an aggressive store owner, or a complete stranger on the street, it’s crucial to trust your instincts, be assertive and take proactive steps to ensure your well-being. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing safety over politeness.

Here are a few tips to follow if you feel uncomfortable with a stranger while traveling solo:

  • Maintain a confident posture and walk with purpose.
  • Ignore any individuals who may be harassing you. Avoid eye contact and continue on your way.
  • If someone persists, speak firmly and assertively. Clearly express that you are not interested and want to be left alone.
  • Politely but assertively create physical distance. Move away from the individual and find a public or well-lit space. 
  • Plan an exit strategy in advance. Know the location of exits, public spaces, or areas with people where you can seek assistance.
  • Answer a fake phone call, engage with a map, or act preoccupied. Pretending to be busy goes along with ignoring them and seems to deter most unwanted attention. 
  • If you suspect you’re being followed, change your route and head towards a more crowded or well-lit area. Stop walking once you get to a crowded public place and assess the situation. 

While solo travel presents unique challenges, many individuals explore the world independently without encountering significant issues. However, it’s crucial to stay vigilant, be adaptable, and take proactive measures to enhance your personal safety during solo adventures. Overall, trust your instincts, stay positive, and view challenges as opportunities for personal growth. 

Sam in a white top and orange pants walking along a rock ledge overlooking aqua water and white sandy beach.

What If I Offend Someone’s Culture?

If you are scared to travel solo because of cultural differences, don’t be. There are a number of reasons why you should not let cultural differences scare you out of traveling alone.

Engaging in cultural differences contributes to personal growth and development. Experiencing new cultures allows you to step out of your comfort zone, broaden your perspective, and become more open-minded. Solo travel requires you to be more self-reliant and resourceful. Navigating cultural differences on your own can boost your confidence and independence, creating a more fulfilling solo travel experience.

The best way to overcome this solo travel fear is to research new cultures and cultural norms before visiting new places. Acknowledge differences, show genuine interest in the home country’s customs, and approach interactions with new people as learning opportunities. Be aware that complete strangers may have diverse perspectives. Practicing open-mindedness and avoiding assumptions are great ways to avoid unintentionally offending another culture.

Remember, interacting with people from different cultures provides an opportunity for cultural exchange. You can learn about their traditions, customs, and way of life. Trying local foods, participating in cultural events, and engaging with traditions can add depth and richness to your travel memories.

Here are a few effective ways to avoid offending someone’s culture:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask. If you are unsure about something, ask a local to clarify.
  • Dress modestly and adhere to local dress codes, especially in religious or conservative settings.
  • Be aware of gestures and body language, as some may have different meanings across cultures.
  • Avoid using offensive language, jokes, or making assumptions about cultural stereotypes.
  •  Make an effort to learn a few basic phrases in the local language to show respect for the culture.
  • If you make a mistake, admit it, and apologize sincerely. Demonstrating humility can go a long way.

How Am I Supposed To Communicate In A Foreign Country?

Two words: Google Translate

The fear of struggling with language differences and communication challenges should not scare you out of traveling solo. Initially, foreign environments can be tough to navigate, but when it comes to language, there are many ways to communicate (even without Google Translate).

While I was in a small Italian town, a waitress once communicated an entire menu to me via drawings. She literally drew almost everything on the menu-I was so impressed, not just with her drawings but with her willingness to help me understand the menu (this was pre iPhone and Google Translate). 

Knowing a few phrases in the local language is polite, but most locals would not expect you to speak the local language. If you are an English speaker, you are in luck, more people speak English than any other language in the world. 

Of course, the simplest solution to overcome this fear is not to have to worry about it at all. Choose a destination that speaks your language to alleviate this solo travel fear.

What If I Get Sick? Can I Access Healthcare Abroad?

Concerns about healthcare accessibility and managing health issues while alone in a foreign place are very common. Travel insurance is the best thing to invest in to help alleviate this solo travel concern. Investing in comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation is a good start. However, there are many stipulations and different scenarios to consider when deciding on what kind of travel insurance to purchase. Make sure to do your research and choose something that is right for your needs and type of travel. Hopefully, you will never have to use it, but having it will give you peace of mind.

For non-medical emergencies, many countries do offer medical aid to tourists- sometimes free. You can usually pick up standard medications and treatments at drug stores. The ease of getting medically treated abroad can vary significantly from country to country, but rest assured, if you need medical attention, you will be able to receive it, even if you are overseas. 

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I hope you’ll be able to use this post as a guide to help you overcome some common travel anxieties and gain your solo travel confidence so you are never too scared to travel alone. Solo travel is an opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. It helps enhance problem-solving skills and independence and boosts confidence. It’s the best way to get out there and see the world, especially if you are tired of waiting around for the perfect travel companion that may never come!

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