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Let me tell you. I was terrified, shaking in my boots I was so scared of travelling alone before my first solo trip.
I got no sleep the night before my first solo trip, and I very nearly didn’t get on the plane.
But that first solo trip changed my life forever.
In the best way possible.
Being scared of travelling alone is 100% normal and natural.
In fact, I would challenge anybody who said they weren’t afraid or nervous before their first solo trip.
You’re jumping head first into an amazing but scary life experience.
You’re completely responsible for everything that happens to you, and there is nobody to help you out if you get into a stick situation.
So, yeah, solo travel is scary when you’re just starting out, but it gets easier.
Until you have zero fears left even when you go to the most difficult of destinations or find yourself in a touchy situation.
Solo travel is a skill. The more you practice, the better you get at it!
Before long it is completely natural, and you’re no longer afraid of travelling alone.
I’m going to help you get to that point by sharing all the tips, tricks, and secrets I’ve learnt about years and years of travelling alone!
Buckle up because this is going to be a good one!
Solo Travel is All About Problem Solving
Well, technically travel in all its forms is about problem solving, but being able to solve problems is even more important when you travel alone.
When you realize that a lot of what you’ll be doing on your trip alone is problem solving, it eliminates a lot of the fear of solo travel.
Or at least it did for me!
I’m not saying that you’re going to run into a bunch of problems when you’re travelling alone and need to solve a bunch of issues.
Far from it! In most cases, you won’t run into a single problem when you’re on the road.
I’m talking more about the little things and how you have to solve those problems.
Figuring out how to use public transportation wherever you go. Deciding where to eat and what to see. Picking the perfect place to stay.
And perhaps most importantly figuring out how to get back to your hotel if you’ve wander off the main tourist trail.
These may not seem like problems, but they require you to use your problem solving skills.
This is great if you’re scared of travelling alone because you can practice your problem solving skills before you leave for your trip.
If you’re used to working with other people to figure things out, stop!
Do it by yourself and sharpen your skills.
They will come in handy when you’re travelling alone!
You can also practice your problem solving skills. Buy some Ikea furniture and build it by yourself. Research and drive to a new restaurant in your home city.
The more confident you are at solving little things that come up, the more prepared for your first solo trip you’ll be!
Don’t Practice at Home
Okay, okay, I know this kind of contradicts my last point but hear me out!
I can’t explain why, but eating out alone in your home city is much scarier and uncomfortable than eating out alone anywhere else in the world.
Even after years of travelling alone I refuse to eat alone in my home city.
If you’re scared of travelling alone, I do not recommend you practice in your home city.
It may put you off of travelling alone if you have a bad experience.
I suggest that you just jump in feet first into the deep end and hold off on practicing travelling alone until you’re on your first solo trip.
If you want to get a taste for solo travel before heading out on a big trip, I suggest you take a weekend trip to a nearby city, state, or province.
This way your’e experiencing what solo travel is like without the awkwardness of doing it in your home city.
I don’t know why but the thought of running into someone I know while eating alone in a restaurant freaks me out a little bit. It just feels odd to hang out alone in my home city.
So, hold off on practicing solo travel activities in your home city.
You’ll have a much better experience if you wait until your first solo trip. There is no turning back, and you’re forced to get out of your comfort zone and grow.
Visit a Similar Country on Your First Trip
This is one of the best tips I can give anybody scared of travelling alone.
You will be amazed at how much more relaxed and confident you are when you’re in a place that is similar to your home town.
Same same but different if you know what I mean.
If you’re from Canada like me, please like the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are great choices.
If you live in Hong Kong, Taiwan is a great place to take your first solo trip.
You get the point!
Going somewhere that is similar to what you’re familiar with but still different is one of the best ways you can dive into solo travel without it feeling too scary.
You get the experience of travelling alone and seeing a new part of the world but without some of the more stressful parts of solo travel.
Like dealing with an enormous language barrier, not being able to read the language, and having no idea what anything on the menu is.
Those things are amazing and some of the best parts of travel, but they can definitely scare someone who is on their first solo trip.
I spend three months backpacking through the Balkans and Eastern Europe on my first trip. It was amazing, but I was definitely exhausted and weary of solo travel after I got home.
Some of the places I visited on my first solo trip are still my favourite places I’ve been, but I want to go back now that I’m an experienced solo traveller and get a deeper appreciation for them!
I didn’t go on my next solo trip for almost a year after my first solo trip! And ended up going to Ecuador as my second solo trip.
I still travelled between my first and second solo trip, but I was either with a friend or a family member.
I want you to fall head over heels in love with solo travel, and I think the best way to do that is start somewhere that will be easy for you to travel alone.
Be Aware of Local Scams
No matter where you travel there are local scams you need to be aware of.
Spending a few minutes and researching the local scams in the place you’re travelling to helps more than you think!
You are aware of what to look out for, have a better chance of spotting a scam, and have an extra level of confidence.
I’m in no way saying that you’re going to get scammed on your solo trip.
In fact, 9 times out of 10 you won’t even have to think whether or not something is a scam.
But you still need to be prepared!
You don’t want to be caught off guard and lose your money, personal belongings, or have your safety put at risk.
Trust me. I’ve been scammed out of a lot of money during my time on the road and don’t want the same thing to happen to you!
It is easy to prevent being scammed as long as you know what to look out for.
I don’t like the narrative that being a solo traveller puts you at more risk of being scammed or makes you more of a target.
In most cases, it has more to do with how aware you are and how much confidence you have.
However, there are a few instances where you may want to be more aware of your surroundings since you might be more of a target.
I’m talking about petty crimes like pickpocketing or scams where someone distracts you and their partner steals from you.
You don’t have anybody to look out for you or watch your back, so you need to be aware of your surroundings.
Unique Solo Travel Safety Tips You Need to Know
Internet Safety is Essential
You always hear people talking about safety when you travel, but you rarely hear people talk about the need to be internet safe.
One of my goals with this blog is to get more people to understand the importance of internet safety while travelling and help them protect their online data!
I can hardly imagine a worse scenario than having your online data accessed and stolen while you’re travelling alone.
Especially if your banking information is stolen, and you have to cancel some or all of your cards.
That is an absolute nightmare!
I’ve had to deal with minor banking issues while travelling alone, and I can’t imagine the stress and inconvenience having all my banking information stolen would cause.
I don’t want you to go through that!
The only way you can be internet safe and protect yourself while you’re on the road is by installing a VPN on all your devices.
A VPN essentially puts up a forcefield around your devices that keeps prying eyes out.
It makes using public wifi networks just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.
And trust me when I say that you’ll be relying on public wifi networks when you’re on a solo trip!
And, yes, public wifi networks that have a password associated with them are still considered public wifi networks.
Anybody can get the password and use it to steal your personal online data if they want.
Installing and using a VPN on your devices is a non-negotiable part of solo travel.
You need a VPN.
My Favourite VPN
I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my years of travelling alone, and I’ve got to say that most of them suck!
They slow down your phone and make it so painful to use that I just gave up, turned off the VPN, and put my online data at risk of being stolen.
Don’t be like me!
I started using NordVPN in 2018 and haven’t looked back since.
It is the fastest VPN on the market, and that is why I recommend it to you as a fellow travel lover.
Not only is it super fast, but you can install NordVPN on up to six devices with a single subscription.
You only need to pay one low price to protect all your different devices, which makes it ideal for people on a tight budget!
You can also cloak your location and make it look like you’re in a different country than you actually are.
This allows you to access the Netflix library from other countries if your favourite show isn’t available where you’re travelling.
I highly suggest you check out South Korea’s Netflix library. It is one of the best in the world if you ask me!
Your monthly NordVPN subscription costs less than the price of a single latte, so there is no excuse not to get one!
My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information with a VPN
Know Your Limits
A lot of the narrative around solo travel is pushing yourself and getting outside your comfort zone.
While that is true to some extent, it isn’t the full story.
Seriously, if you’re scared of travelling alone, you need to pay attention to this tip!
I 100% think one of the best things about solo travel is that it pushed you out of your comfort zone and makes you grow as a person.
And it should!
You’re embarking on an entirely new experience and one that doesn’t really come naturally to people.
There is a fine line you need to walk between pushing yourself and knowing your limits.
For example, pushing yourself could be going to a cooking class alone when you’re afraid to be alone in a social setting.
Knowing your limits is not going on a five hour hike when you’ve never hiked for more than an hour at a time before.
See the difference?
It mainly has to do with keeping yourself safe!
I don’t want you going on your first solo trip and going wild doing a bunch of stuff you know your body can’t handle because your feel like you should or everybody else is doing it.
I want you to grow as a person and try new things but stop when it gets to the point of pushing your boundaries too much.
Remember that you’re all alone and 100% responsible for yourself.
If you go on that five hour hike and are exhausted 90 minutes in, you still have to get yourself out of the forest without any help.
But do try new things!
That’s one of the best parts of solo travel. And helps you grow in a healthy way as a person.
Solo Travel Isn’t for Everybody
This is a hard truth.
I know a lot of people tell you you need to travel alone once in your life. And I feel like everybody who can should travel alone.
But that doesn’t take away the fact that some people just aren’t meant to travel alone.
If you’re scared of travelling alone, you need to distinguish whether it is a nervous/excited fear or a holy shit this is a bad idea fear.
Hopefully you can distinguish between the two of them!
Or, perhaps, right now isn’t the right time for you to travel alone. You might be ready sometime in the future but not at this exact moment.
I don’t want you to feel the societal pressure you can sometimes feel to travel alone.
Like it is a rite of passage.
If you’re scared of travelling alone, that may be your body’s way of telling you that it isn’t the right decision for you.
There is no shame in that.
I don’t want you to have a terrible solo travel experience and be put off travel as a whole just because of it!
There are a lot of factors that go into whether or not solo travel is the right choice for you.
You need to look deep inside yourself and decide whether or not you should travel alone.
But, again, you need to be able to figure out what is the natural nervousness we talked about at the start of this post. And what is the deeper knowledge that it is a bad idea.
Because your nervousness might trick you into thinking it is a deeper fear.
And, heck, you can test it out by going on a weekend trip to a nearby city if you’re struggling to decide if solo travel is right for you or not.
Still scared of travelling alone?!
You don’t really get over the fear of solo travel until you go on your first solo trip and experience what it is actually like!
But I hope this post helped calm some of your nerves and gave you a few ideas on how to get over the fear of solo travel.
Trust me, I know your first solo trip is scary. Mine definitely was.
But the more you travel alone, the better you get at it. And the more addicted you become!
The tips and tricks on this list should hopefully leave you feeling more excited and prepared for your first solo trip.
I certainly hope they didn’t put you off solo travel!
If you’re a solo traveller, be sure to leave your top tips for people who are scared of travelling alone in the comments. We can all help each other out!