4 Solo Travel Fears And Why You Shouldn’t Let Them Stop You
If you had asked me seven years ago if I would ever get on a plane, fly across the world and proceed to backpack around without much of a plan, I would have called you crazy. I wouldn’t have given solo travel a fleeting thought. Hell, I wouldn’t have even gone into my local Walmart alone and don’t even think about asking me to sit and have a coffee all by myself! Being all on my own was easily one of my biggest solo travel fears. Now, I tell my friends that they’re crazy not to.
I get that it is a scary feeling to take such a huge leap of faith in yourself and in the humanity of the world, but you can’t deny that other sensation that’s trying to creep up past the fear and make your tummy do cartwheels – EXCITEMENT! That holy shit, I’m actually going to do this feeling of nauseous apprehension and pure, ecstatic joy. It’s weird when the two combine and to this day, when I board a plane by myself, I feel them both and remember that this feeling is about to lead me on an adventure I can’t even begin to image. And for that, it’s my favorite feeling in the world.
But I do understand that you might have a few nagging thoughts getting in the way of you traveling alone and that is perfectly normal. So here are the top 4 solo travel fears that people share with me and why you shouldn’t let them stop you.
I’m Afraid I’ll Be Lonely
Out of all of the solo travel fears that I’ve heard, I think that this is number one. You don’t want to show up somewhere and wind up feeling lonely, have nobody to talk to and nobody to share your experiences with. Although this is the number one fear I’ve heard, it’s also the first thing that you realize just isn’t true! As a solo traveler, you have the power to choose how many people you want to engage with and how often.
On my first solo trip, I don’t think I ever spent a second alone (unless the introvert in me wanted to). Solo travelers attract other solo travelers and nearly everyone wants a travel buddy, even if it’s for an afternoon. If you stay in hostels, volunteer or join a tour group – you will make friends easily, even if you’re shy or an introvert!
I’m Afraid I’ll Get Lost/Not Know What To Do/Fear of the Unknown
This is another pretty huge solo travel fear – all of those what if’s running through your mind. The fear of being outside your comfort zone. What if _____ happens, what if I get lost, what if nobody is there to help me, etc. and the truth is… these things might happen. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been lost in a strange city, or injured myself, or had to find something that I ran out of in a country where there was very little English (ladies: tampons can be hard to find!). But solo travel will build up your confidence and your resourcefulness.
You will learn how much you can handle on your own and what you can’t (tip: you can handle a lot more than you think). And if worse comes to worse, eventually someone will help you. As much as people bash humanity in our world today, solo travel has opened my eyes to just how much humanity there is left out there.
I’m Afraid I’ll Get Kidnapped/Mugged/Assaulted/Etc.
A nice one to bring in after speaking about my faith in humanity. This is a real fear of mine, possibly the biggest: I am beyond paranoid. Ever since my dad bought me “dog attack spray” (pepper spray is illegal here in Canada) when I moved out for university, I’ve carried it in my purse and even tucked up my sleeve. As a solo traveler, or a traveler in general, we all need to learn how to be safe in our surroundings. Be smart, be street savvy and be aware.
Don’t flash your money around, don’t carry it all at once and keep it stored in various places (in your purse, in a money belt, in a bra pocket, in your shoe, etc.). I try not to arrive in a new destination at night and if I have to, I grab a taxi to my accommodation (that I ALWAYS have pre-booked if I’m arriving at night). Don’t walk alone at night if you don’t have to/aren’t comfortable. Wear anti-theft bags that prevent your bag straps being slashed and stolen. I could go on about safety forever, and I have right here!
I’m Afraid Of My Safety As A Woman
As women, we have to deal with different things than our male counterparts. In some countries, there are norms and customs about how women and men should interact, verbal harassment can be rampant and there may be very clear gender roles.
It’s no lie that women are held to different standards and are treated differently than men – and that’s everywhere in the world. This means that women are often thought of as being easier targets, more at risk of being victims of sexual assault and are generally more “vulnerable. For all my female readers – you can still travel solo! Do not let your gender prevent you from that. Before you leave, research your destination. How are women typically known to be treated? Do you know any women who have gone before you? Speak with them. Know what the cultural norm is for women in the country you’re heading to.
One of the biggest solo travel fears that women have is unwanted attention from men and having to deal with pushy or aggressive men. In some cases, dressing more conservatively can help but sometimes even that doesn’t stop this from happening. I’ve found that the best response is either no response at all or a very firm and confident one. Regardless, I never stop moving. If you feel that the situation is getting more uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, try to get yourself to a public area such as a restaurant, busy store, police or fire station. If none of those are available to you, walk up to the nearest group of people and start talking to them like they’re the friends you’ve been walking to meet all along.