Leaving the comfort of friends and family back home, of all things familiar, in order to go travel alone is no easy feat.
For the majority of people, solo travel is an incredibly challenging decision. That being said, the rewards for going off on an adventure alone outweigh any fears you might have before leaving.
In my seven years of solo travel as a surprisingly nervous person and my conversations with other travelers, I have learned there are some common anxieties we all face on the road alone, and I’ve put together my tips for how to beat them.
1. Eating alone
It can be surprisingly stressful to find yourself alone with no one for company or anyone to talk to and make decisions with.
I remember I used to get so anxious when I would have to check in at hostels or go and find food by myself. At least for me, there was nothing weirder than going and eating dinner alone in a restaurant.
The great thing was that after a while, you get used to it. I think for the first year I used to always get takeaway food and bring it back to wherever I was staying to eat I was so self-conscious. I got over this anxiety in two ways.
I forced myself to go eat out alone when I was traveling. If there was a good restaurant I wanted to try, I would go, whether or not I had someone with me. Otherwise I worked harder to make friends wherever I was staying, be more outgoing and talk to people.
Oftentimes I would end up out to dinner with people I just met, sharing great food and conversations with new people in an amazing place.
2. Not having any backup
I used to get nervous about the fact that I didn’t have anyone with me in case something went wrong or if I needed help with something. This could be anything from trying to figure out where to go on a map, interpreting a phrase in a foreign language, to even getting sick on the road.
While there isn’t a simple solution to this, I found that over time I learned to be more and more self-sufficient and independent.
A lot of people can’t cope with being alone, and the only way to get over it, is in fact, to be alone. I focused on the outcome, the positives that I knew would come if I learned to be more independent.
Luckily, this doesn’t take very long, and I promise even if you are only traveling solo for a weekend, by the end you’ll come out a different person.
3. Danger danger
While being afraid of being mugged or attacked was never at the top of my list of anxieties on the road, over the years, I am told over and over again by friends, family, and even strangers that I should be more afraid than I actually am.
I got over this by minimizing how often I could be in potentially dangerous situations alone. For example, there are certain places I wouldn’t walk alone in at night or making sure I’ve organized transport from the airport when I arrive in a new place beforehand.
I’m also very careful about what I reveal to strangers, often I don’t tell people straight away that I am alone and I definitely don’t say where I am staying.
I also always leave my plans with someone and make sure to check in often while traveling. Little things like this can go a long way in protecting yourself when you’re traveling alone.
See my post 10 tips for staying safe as a solo traveler
4. Talking to strangers and making friends
Depending on your personality type, if you are anything like me, talking to strangers and making friends isn’t always the easiest thing to do in the world.
See my post 5 tips for meeting people as a solo traveler for advice.
Luckily, as a solo traveler, you have a lot of control over this; i.e. you don’t always have to talk to people you don’t want to. You can be outgoing when you want to, and you can be alone when you want to. It’s great.
That being said, there are a few times when you will be forced to talk to people when you probably don’t really feel like it. Checking in at your hotel. At the airport. Asking for directions. Buying tickets to something. Asking someone to take your picture. It happens.
The easiest way to beat them? Be super friendly and outgoing. Force yourself to smile and be approachable. Or if that doesn’t work, join in on a tour. Whether it’s a day tour, an activity or even a long tour, that’s one way to beat that anxiety.