Nervous to take a trip alone? Here’s how to get the courage to take your first solo trip!
I always loved the idea of traveling solo, but I never thought I’d have the courage to do it.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take my first solo trip when a group trip suddenly went sour. I planned a trip to Puerto Rico with two girl friends and their flights were cancelled at the last minute. Needless to say, I was bummed. I had to decide whether I would go on without them or not. I’d never traveled solo and I had no idea where to even start. Ultimately, I wasn’t prepared to take this trip on my own.
Six months later, I decided to take my first solo trip to San Francisco.
Six months after that, I took my first international trip to Costa Rica.
These days, I’ve lost count of how many countries I’ve visited alone.
Despite how much solo travel experience I have now, I still get nervous before every big trip. At the same time, I know that the benefits of traveling solo far outweigh the negatives. The downfalls are part of the journey and I’ve learned to embrace them. I definitely understand how scary solo travel can seem in the beginning, so here’s how to get the courage to take your first solo trip:
1. Start Small
When you see other people jet-setting across the world, it might make you feel like you should be doing the same. However, it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere. Baby steps, my friend. If you aren’t used to being alone, you can start by simply practicing. Learn what it feels like to spend time alone. It will feel extremely uncomfortable in the beginning, but you’ll grow to enjoy it with time. Here’s what you can do to start small:
Go to the grocery store, park, mall, movie theatre, and (yes!) even dinner alone
Take a day-trip or weekend trip to a nearby town alone
Join a group tour! You won’t be completely solo and you’re likely to make lifelong friend
Travel alone in your home country before leaving the country solo
Travel in an English Speaking Country(If that’s your first language) before facing language barriers
I left the country for the first time during study abroad. I took my second trip abroad with EF College Break, because I wasn’t ready to travel solo. I traveled completely alone for the first time to San Francisco, because I wanted to try a solo trip before I committed to leaving the country alone. I finally took my first solo trip abroad to Costa Rica and had a blast. And, the rest is history! As you begin to take baby steps outside of your comfort zone, you’ll gain the courage to take on bigger and better goals!
2. Do Your Research
Do plenty of research before committing to your first solo trip. Research which countries and cities are safe for solo female travelers. For example, I’d recommend visiting a country like Iceland(one of the safest countries in the world) instead of India for your first solo trip abroad. Why? There’s an established tourism infrastructure and less of a culture shock. It’s also significantly safer!
Research cultural norms, customs, current political state, things to do, tourism infrastructure, common scams, etc. With a little bit of research, you can make decisions based on facts instead of fear. You’ll also feel more comfortable with your decision to go on this trip.
While it may feel like flying in an airplane is dangerous, the reality is that you’re more likely to to die in a car crash. Data shows that you’re more likely to die from choking than a terrorist attack. I was worried about human trafficking across the world, meanwhile Houston(my hometown) is one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the US. Home feels safer because it’s familiar, but the reality is that bad things can happen anywhere.
RELATED: How To Stay Safe As A Solo Traveler
3. Block Out The Haters
For many, solo travel is still a strange concept. Your friends & family members may jump to conclusions and they may not understand why you’d ever want to travel alone. While they likely have your best interests in mind, it’s important to block out the negativity. Oftentimes, people project their own doubts and insecurities onto others. It’s gonna be difficult to get the courage to travel solo if family members are bombarding you with horror stories and judgement.
Thank them for their concern and surround yourself with people who support your journey. If you can’t find anyone in real life, search blogs(hello!) and forums where solo travelers have shared personal advice. You can also join Facebook groups like The Solo Female Traveler Network!
4. Think About Everything That Could Go RIGHT
It’s easy to think about what could go wrong on your first solo trip, but try your best to focus on everything that could go right.
Instead of worrying about getting lost, think of beauty you could discover when you give yourself the freedom to explore.
Instead of worrying about talking to strangers, think of the beautiful souls you may meet along the way.
Instead of worrying about being alone, think of precious time you’ll have to nurture yourself.
Instead of worrying about dealing with language barriers, think of opportunities you’ll have to learn a new language and challenge yourself.
Try to refocus your thoughts on positive possibilities instead of potential negatives. Things will inevitably go wrong, but you’ll cross that bridge when you get there. You have so much to look forward to!
5. Be Patient With Yourself
It may be one year or four years before you work up the courage to take your first solo trip. That’s Okay. It’s okay to feel anxious. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to take your time. This is all for you, so there’s no rush. Solo travel is a scary concept for many, so be patient with yourself.
6. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway
I cried like a baby when I quit my job to travel solo. My stomach was bubbling over with anxiety and my mind was racing with scary thoughts. I was scared AF, but I quickly realized that I would rather face my fears than live a life of regret. Now, I’ve traveled across the world by myself and It’s been better than I could have ever imagined!
It’s important to be patient with yourself, but it’s also crucial to know that you may not ever feel ready to book that flight or take your first solo trip. You will feel fear and anxiety because you’re stepping into unknown territory, both literally and figuratively. The best way to overcome your fear is to face it. At one point or another, you’ll have to decide to feel the fear and do it anyway!