Anytime I announce another solo trip, I get reactions that range from sheer amazement (“Wow! Alone?? Really?? That is so cool!!!”) to overreacted concern (“you’ll get kidnapped!!! or “what if you die alone???”).
While many people dream of packing their bags and going on a trip alone, only a few actually do it. Back home, I have heard many one reasons from people for not taking a vacation by themselves, or for taking a gap year alone.
And for whatever reason, fear is the one common reason which tends to be mentioned the most. But a fear of what???
FEAR OF FEELING LONELY
When I travel alone, I am only really alone when I first come in into a country, and at the time I leave. Yes, I do end up having to start all over at times when changing cities or countries, meeting new people, and adjusting to new settings, but in all of my solo travels I have yet to spend an entire trip all by myself.
Hostels are a great place to meet other travelers, most have common areas for everyone to relax, and the better ones even organize barbecues or parties where you can meet other travelers. If you’re up for it, you can also stay in dorms where you are sure to meet other travelers (hopefully the non-snoring type).
Even when I do not manage to meet other travelers, striking up conversations with locals at a cafe, bar or a restaurant is easy. Most people will be curious to know where you’re from and how long you’re staying in their country, and they may even offer to show you around if you’re really lucky.
And for the times you will be alone, who doesn’t need a little privacy from time to time right? After all, that book you started and never finished is not going to read itself.
FEAR OF GETTING ROBBED
I’ll be honest, before embarking on my first solo trip I was quite concerned with the possibility of getting robbed or worst, to the point that it limited my interactions with others. Unfortunately I did end up getting robbed on my last day before returning home (goodbye pictures 🙁 ), and this made me hesitate to take a 2nd trip alone, but the option of staying home doing nothing was even more unappealing than the thought of getting robbed a second time.
Although getting robbed totally sucked, the friends I had made during that trip kept in touch and sent me their pictures so I could have some memories to keep.
But why did I get robbed? It had a lot to do with becoming too comfortable and letting my guard down, which made me an easy target. Other than my pictures everything was replaceable, but this experience still taught me to become more vigilant and helped make me a more experienced traveler.
Now I know better which places to avoid, how to keep my valuables hidden while I’m out exploring, and how to travel safer. It is not about the fear of getting robbed, it is about knowing how to protect your stuff without taking away any of the enjoyment of travelling.
FEAR OF GETTING BORED
This one I definitely cannot relate to. Imagine having the possibility of going anywhere you wanted, whenever you wanted, and do whatever you wanted, simply because you wanted it… Well this is what solo travel gives you IN EXCESS!!! An opportunity to NOT HAVE TO COMPROMISE!!!
Your time is yours to do with as you wish; you can choose to stay longer at any place you like, you can wake up and go to sleep at the time of your choice, and you can really go any direction that you want…when traveling alone, it’s all about YOU!
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
I get it. Doing something for the first time is scary. Hell…doing ANYTHING for the first time, whether you have experience or not, can be frightening.
But…if you never do it, you’ll never know how the experience will go, and you will never turn on that light in the darkness that is the unknown.
My thinking is this: If we were afraid of what we don’t know, we would live in a bubble somewhere and never try anything new. We ALWAYS do something for the first time, and if you’re reading these lines…well then YOU HAVE MADE IT OK SO FAR!!!
Facing the unknown is what gives us life experience, what gives us character, and what makes us grow as a person, and with travel it is no different.
FEAR OF BEING TOO YOUNG / TOO OLD
During my travels, I have met people travelling alone as young as 18 and as old as 75, whose stories have continued to inspire me to keep on travelling up to this day.
The 18 year old, an American I met while in Mexico, had recently finished high school and “wanted life experience before starting university“. He was on a 3-month trip which would take him through Central America.
The 75 year old, an ol’stoke backpacker was “realizing a dream before it was too late”. His dream had always been to travel Europe by land. As he had recently lost his wife, he set on a quest to fulfill his life goal for the both of them.
Needless to say, you are never too young or too old to travel alone.
AT THE END, YOU WILL CONQUER YOUR FEARS AND YOU WILL LEARN TO TRUST YOURSELF
Going on a trip alone, especially for the first time, does require courage. But I believe everyone has it in them to face and conquer whatever fear they have, and allow themselves the life-changing experience that a solo trip can be.
There are thousands of us out there who have experienced travelling alone, and we all started without any experience and a backpack full of concerns. However none of us will ever tell you that we regret our decision Instead, we will tell you how solo travel helped us conquer our fears, how it helped us to grow as individuals, and how it taught us to trust our intuition. You have it in you!
Have you been through this situation? And how did you conquer your fear of travelling alone? Or are you still struggling with the idea? Let us know in the comments!