I used to think that solo traveling was reserved for ‘people without friends’. If you had asked me five years ago where I pictured myself today, I would never have dreamt of a life where I would be traveling the world completely on my own – and enjoy every minute of it.
I would have never thought that traveling solo would be my preferred way of discovering new cultures, unencumbered by anyone else’s opinions and desires. I would never have thought that my own company would serve as good than anyone else’s, and I couldn’t have imagined that three years after stepping onto that plane from Los Angeles to Bangkok, I would still be going strong exploring on my own.
It turns out that seeing the world through your own eyes only, without anyone’s negative or positive opinions, without anyone steering your direction, and choosing all of the pathways yourself, is the most beautiful voyage of discovery there is.
If you’ve never solo traveled before, but are dying to see the world and don’t want to wait, perhaps forever, until someone can join you, don’t despair. There is hope yet! Here are five ways to get over the fear of traveling alone, and to have an amazing vacation, all with your fabulous self.
1. Seek encouragement
If it doesn’t come from your immediate circle of friends and family, look for inspiration elsewhere. There are tons of well-written solo female travel blogs and websites that cater to solo female travelers who are heading out into the world for the first time. You never have to be alone.
I recall before my trip I was shaking in my shoes, so I reached out to fellow solo female traveler Ayngelina Brogan of Bacon is Magic who replied with the sweetest email, encouraging me to go and telling me that she was always there if I ever needed anything. It meant the world to me at the time, and when I get similar messages now, I always respond in the same way.
There are plenty of women who can serve as that support system for you – you only need to ask.
2. Deal with naysayers the right way
When you’re super excited about a trip, it can be a real downer if the people around you aren’t supportive. They may talk about the dangers, warn you that you’ll be lonely, and generally try to talk you out of it. It’s okay if they do that – it’s what people do when they love you and want to see you safe and happy.
However, just because they talk doesn’t mean you have to listen. Make a short list of people whose opinions really matter. Ask for a real, solid reason why they can’t support you if they’re negative about your plans to travel, and come up with solid solutions to the obstacles they bring up. Everyone else who isn’t on that list doesn’t need to be considered.
3. Prepare adequately
Getting all of your ducks in a row, so to speak, is the best way to feel confident about the road ahead. Save up more than enough money for your trip, be smart about your spending habits while you travel, and keep an emergency-fund for when you return or if things go wrong. Look into all of the visa requirements so that there are no last-minute stressors or surprises, and tie up any loose ends before you go.
A well-prepared solo traveler is a confident solo traveler.
4. Know the tricks for staying safe
Part of preparing adequately has to do with making sure that you know how to take care of yourself. The good news is this part is actually really easy. Think about the things that you do at home to stay safe. Do you walk around alone at night, get intoxicated at bars where you don’t know anyone, or flash your valuables, ever? If you answered, ‘no’, then you already have the tools you need to survive on the road.
In addition, look into dangers and annoyances before you travel abroad (check your country’s .gov warnings beforehand), make sure you know the local emergency numbers, and ask the staff at your hostel or hotel to let you know about any local scams before you go out on your first day solo. Trust your intuition, and the rest is a piece of cake.
5. Remain open and curious
Traveling alone allows you to be exactly who you want to be, without the judgment and influence of the people who have impacted you your whole life – family, friends, and the society you were raised in.
The road is the perfect place to let the real you shine, so get excited! Solo traveling allows women to realize how capable, brave, and independent they can be. Without the chance to travel on your own, you may not have the opportunity to impress yourself with these abilities.
Stay open, stay curious, and let the world be your oyster. You deserve it.
This is a guest post by Kristin Addis.
Kristin is the solo female traveler behind Be My Travel Muse, a website for off the beaten path adventures. For the past three years, she’s traveled the world alone, hitchhiking in China, sleeping in a tent in Africa, and learning how to say ‘I love you’ in 12 Asian languages. She just authored the book, Conquering Mountains: How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly. You can find more of her musings on Instagram and Facebook.