You’ve seen it all over your feed. People just like you traveling the world alone with nothing but a backpack. Solo travel has grown increasingly popular in the last few years, especially among communities of young women. How do these women take off to explore the world? Isn’t it dangerous? How do you even know where to begin? The thought of traveling alone can be overwhelming, but it all starts with your mindset. Here are some quick pointers to take action and learn how to get the courage to travel solo.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Most of our fear and hesitation comes from the fear of the unknown. Where will you be going? What language do they speak? What is it like to be a woman in this country? All of these questions can overwhelm you and prevent you from taking the leap.
I ALWAYS recommend researching the destination you plan on staying in order to come prepared. Make sure to read up on how safe your destination is for solo women travelers, any major laws that differ from your home country, and common scams targeting tourists. I also recommend reading people’s personal experiences through reviews, Youtube vlogs, and other media to get a feel for the place. The more familiar you are with a place, the more comfortable and confident you will feel.
Once you have done the basic research, your nervous system has probably calmed down a bit. However, you still can’t shake the fear of danger…
DEBUNK SAFETY MYTHS
Many of your loved ones may be scared of the thought of you traveling alone, which is very understandable. Here’s the truth… danger can find us anywhere. In our commute to work, in the people we meet online, we are never truly exempt from it. The reality is there are safe and not so safe areas in every major city. However, the majority of destinations are just as safe if not more safe than your home country.
Of course I always preach caution and research in order to remain safe like sharing your location with a loved one, and avoiding standing out in a vulnerable manner. When I told my family I walked back from the club at 2:30am in Seoul South Korea, they were appalled. In my home country, the US, I would never walk home alone late at night because there is a high level of violent crimes against women. However in Korea, it is common to walk by yourself at night. Korea has a very low crime rate.
Other countries seem scary because it is outside our comfort zone. But when we experience these places, we may realize we are more scared to return home. When in doubt, always listen to your intuition and trust your gut when traveling.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
The idea of solo traveling is so exciting and you’re going to want to share all your dreams with your loved ones. Unfortunately, it is common for people to be skeptical and question your decisions. Solo traveling is still a new concept to many. There is a large amount of people that would not desire to solo travel, therefore will have a hard time understanding why you would want to. It is also very common for people to project their fears onto you, even if they are not aware of it. If people do not have the courage to solo travel themselves, they will push their fears and judgment onto you.
Remember at the end of the day, you know who you are and what is best for you. If you feel this strong pull to travel solo and explore the world, do not pass it up. There are endless opportunities waiting for you to build up the courage to travel solo.
SOLO TRAVEL DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ALONE
If the idea of being completely alone is too much for your first time, make sure to look into group trips and travel organizations. For my first big international trip, I traveled with GIVE Volunteers. I was grouped with about 15 other strangers to volunteer in Zanzibar, Tanzania. This is a great way to practice solo traveling because I went by myself, but I met friends quickly and had the backing of an organization for security. I gained confidence in my ability to travel, which makes the jump to traveling completely solo much easier.
There are also several other organizations that offer group tours where you have preset itineraries and accommodations with a set group. You are never truly alone if you do not want to be. Other options include doing work exchanges like Workaway. Here you work for a hostel, organization, family, etc. in return for free accommodation and food. You can set your preference to more than 1 volunteer at a host so you will not be alone. There are also endless Facebook group chats and networks of solo travelers where you never have to be alone if you do not want to be.
BE SCARED AND DO IT ANYWAY
The truth is everyone experiences fear and it is a normal emotion when doing something new. Fear is an evolutionary trait that has kept us alive for thousands of years. However, in our current day we do not have the dangers of the past. Now, fear arises in any event of unfamiliarity and uncertainty. The only way to overcome fear is to do what you are scared of anyway. Once you overcome one fear, all your other fears seem that much more attainable to conquer.
Fear is just a mindset, and the people that are living the life that you dream of, have just chosen to exist with fear. A saying that I live by is to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The life of your dreams exists on the other side of your comfort zone. The more you push at your comfort zone little by little, you expand your world into something bigger and greater.
Traveling solo is one of the most rewarding experiences which will change and expand your life in endless possible ways. Think of the life changing connections you will make, the surreal landscapes you will reach, all while growing as an individual. Your confidence will skyrocket and you won’t regret taking the leap into a life you dream of.