Are you scared to travel alone? If you are, you’re not alone as there are many travel fears you’ll face if you want to go on solo adventures.
Preparing for a trip as a solo female traveller can be very daunting. After travelling solo many times, I know first-hand how scary it can be sometimes. Fears of travel are inevitable, especially if you’ve never travelled solo before. I’ve been travelling solo since 2014, and occasionally I still face fears and experience solo travel anxiety.
But although any solo trip can make you feel scared or unsure the rewards can far outweigh them. So you must overcome them to have the best trip possible.
These are the solo travel fears that you will face when you travel alone.
Being Out of Your Comfort Zone On Your Travels
This is definitely a very common, and completely natural fear that you may have but until you are on your trip you won’t know how you will react to solo travel experiences.
You will probably surprise yourself on a regular basis as you learn how resourceful, resilient and adventurous you can be. Travelling will teach you so much about yourself. You will learn more about what you love and hate, and what your boundaries truly are as you push yourself.
Even if you feel really scared and anxious, you can do it, and you will thank yourself afterwards.
Feeling Lonely When You’re Travelling Alone
Experiencing feelings of loneliness is something that happens to a lot of solo travellers. You can be prepared for this before your trip by deciding how you will stay in touch with friends and family. Tools like Skype, Whatsapp and Messenger are ideal because you will be able to communicate freely if you have WiFi.
If you are sociable at your accommodation, and with people that you meet along your trip, you will always find people to talk to. If you want to meet fellow travellers, staying in hostels or accommodations with pools, bars and restaurants is a great way to do it.
But the reality is that loneliness is also just a big part of travelling solo. Often times the reason that we travel solo is because we need to heal. Or maybe we need to figure out who we are and learn to love ourselves again. Whatever your reason for travelling, acknowledge that loneliness is just part of the journey you are on.
Getting Lost Or Stranded Somewhere
A very valid fear, that I’ve experienced myself, is that you will get lost or stranded somewhere. It can be really scary. But the scariest part will be all of the worst-case scenarios in your head rather than your reality.
Being totally lost or stranded isn’t something that happens often, and the important thing is just to always have emergency contacts and a backup plan for emergencies.
Always get travel insurance for your trip, and ensure that you have their contact number for emergencies handy. Also make digital copies of your passport, any important ID cards, travel documents and the contact information of your accommodation so that they are easily accessible.
Share your travel itinerary with friends and/or family so people know your plans and where you should be each day with details of all your accommodations.
While exploring, especially in a foreign city, it can be pretty easy to get lost. Downloading offline maps of the areas that you are visiting will help you find your way. There are often maps available at hotels and hostels too that you can have in your bag just in case. If you get really lost, go into a local shop, restaurant, hotel or attraction and ask a member of staff for assistance.
But getting lost can be fun too! I’ve had so many instances where I’ve wandered, lost my way and found something really cool. Embrace the adventure of a solo trip. You never know what you will find.
Staying Safe When You’re Traveling Solo
Safety is always a big concern, especially for female solo travellers. After all, has anyone watched films like Taken and Snatched and not gotten a little freaked out…
Nothing will ever completely guarantee your safety no matter where you are but you can do a lot to protect yourself.
Most criminals will be opportunists looking for vulnerable travellers who make it easy for them. They will target people who are not paying attention, or have bags or items within reach out in the open.
So the best thing you can do is to be street smart. Keep your wallet, documents and valuable items secure and out of sight. Wear clothing and accessories that will make you blend in rather than stand out as a tourist and stay alert.
Also, research your destinations, and make smart choices about your travels such as where you will stay, how you will travel and how you will store your belongings. These things could be the difference between being safe and being a target.
Encountering Language Barriers
Language barriers are definitely a big fear of mine when I am planning solo trips. I will be doing my first solo trip to the Mediterranean soon and although most places will speak English it still makes me nervous.
Unfortunately, language barriers could mean issues like missed trains or flights, getting lost and struggling to find basics like accommodation or food.
But ultimately it’s down to me, and you, as travellers in foreign countries to manage this barrier. It’s just a part of the experience of travelling, learning new cultures and meeting new people.
Thankfully there are useful tools that can help us navigate this such as translator apps. Make sure you get one that is accessible offline and can translate verbal dialect as well as text. Having maps or business cards will also help to break language barriers.
Another option is to put useful words and phrases somewhere accessible offline that you can refer to. Whether you store them on your phone or memorize them learning some basics like hello, thank you and bill please will really help.
Eating Out Alone
When I started travelling solo, eating out alone was something that I was a little unsure about especially going out to dinner on my own.
Picking up a coffee or grabbing a snack is one thing, but asking for a table for one in a busy restaurant wasn’t appealing. Since then I have got very used to it, and have had some great experiences. Eating alone provides opportunities to meet new people and make friends, but if you are an introvert or prefer to eat quietly it can be intimidating.
If the thought of going to a restaurant by yourself freaks you out, try taking a book or your laptop with you to give you something to do. Usually, unless I’m taking a break from my devices I will work on content or travel plans when I go out for food. The key is to experiment and find what works for you as it is something you will need to get comfortable with.
Getting Unwanted Attention From People
Unfortunately, the men in some countries will be pushy, aggressive or inappropriate with you. Yes, scenes from Taken and Snatched have occasionally crossed my mind on my travels. It’s just a reality that as a female solo traveller it is harder to stay safe and be respected.
One of the big things to be mindful of is that Eastern countries often have different rules and laws about women than in the Western world. So it’s important to research the places you are going to and respect any traditions or cultural practices relating to women.
For instance, some countries, and some attractions around the world, will have rules about how a woman can dress. So make sure you have clothing for dressing conservatively if you need to and attention.
Being firm and confident with any men behaving inappropriately, or just ignoring unwanted attention is one way to handle issues like catcalls.
If a situation develops, move to a very public area with lots of people around you and ask for help somewhere like a restaurant or police station. If you ever think that you are being followed stay in a safe public area until authorities arrive.
Being An Introverted Person
If you are an introverted person, solo travelling will really help you to overcome any shyness or awkwardness that you feel. I’m fairly extroverted but I definitely have some introverted tendencies so I experience moments on my travels where the thought of socializing makes me feel anxious.
But over the years I’ve realized that there are lots of solo travellers, and most of us get shy or awkward sometimes. You will find that the travellers you meet will generally be friendly and easy to talk to so if you want to make friends on the road it won’t be that hard.
Financial Issues Of Travelling Alone
If it’s your finances that have you feeling scared, the best thing you can do is do tons of research, preparation and forward planning.
Set yourself a budget for your travels including a daily spending limit. Break down every single part of your trip including food, transportation and tips. If the cost is too high look at ways that you can save money. What are your must haves and what are your nice to haves?
Booking accommodations a few minutes away from expensive tourist areas and big attractions is an easy way to save money if you take some time to do research. Booking attractions and excursions in advance is another easy way to reduce costs.
Don’t let money stop you from exploring the world, instead, just adjust your plans based on your budget.
What if my friends and family don’t approve?
Unfortunately, your family and friends may not be supportive of your solo travel plans. They may feel envious of you, or most likely will be concerned for your safety and well-being.
I didn’t tell my parents about my first vacations overseas, and a big 4 week North America trip in my younger years until everything was booked and paid for. I knew they would say and do everything they could to stop these trips, and I was determined to see more of the world.
Some of the people close to me just didn’t understand my desire to travel, and some of them had never travelled in their lifetime.
I wouldn’t recommend being as secretive as I was, but I would encourage you to show them that you have researched and prepared for your trip and share your plans with them. It’s important that they know where you will be and whether they are supportive or not.
There will always be people who are unsupportive of your travelling but ultimately it’s your life. Don’t let other people’s opinions control your life.
Flying To Destinations Alone
If you have a fear of flying, it can be a huge barrier to travelling. Thankfully it is something that you can navigate without having it totally derail your plans. Flying is actually a really safe mode of transport, and the chances of anything happening are extremely slim.
If logical thinking isn’t helpful, there are lots of coping strategies that you could try to get you through the experience of flying. Things like sleeping tablets, meditation, calming music, or a book to read are all great ways to keep yourself calmer during the flight.
Feeling Homesick When Travelling Alone
I know from personal experience that travelling doesn’t magically make everything better. You won’t suddenly be heartbroken or lost. All the issues you had at home will follow you on your travels, so you will have difficult days on your travels just like at home.
I’ve had so many nights on vacations where I’ve hidden away in my hotel room with junk food for a cry fest over my broken heart. Then the next day I pick myself up and go explore again. I’m sharing this to say it’s okay to have hard days and just hide away, You will get homesick or down in the dumps on the road sometimes.
The important thing is that you have ways to cope with it. Download your favourite movies onto your device before your trip, or take a great book with you. Plan chats with friends and family, treat yourself to something delicious, pamper yourself or write in your journal. You just need a few strategies and tools to get you through any tough times.
Ending Your Travels Early
It’s always a possibility that a trip could end early due to finances, homesickness or an emergency at home. Sometimes it’s unavoidable but there are things that you can do to minimize the chances of going home early.
To ensure you have enough money for your travels, plan ahead and stick to your budget. If you are travelling long term there are also ways that you can earn money on the road. Travellers can do all kinds of jobs abroad, and there are tons of resources online about work abroad.
If you find yourself missing people back home while you travel, give yourself a chance to be independent and see the world. Be present in the moments of your trip and appreciate what you are able to see and do because you decided to travel.
And it’s OK if you do decide to go home early. There are no rules. You tried it out and now you know what solo travel is like. Now you get to either begin again at home or plan for your next trip.
Solo travel especially for a female traveller can be really scary, but I also believe that it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. You will learn so much about yourself while having amazing experiences in new places. Don’t let your fears stop you from travelling. I hope this blog post helps you to overcome your fears, and start planning a solo trip.
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Gemma Lawrence is the creator of This Brits Life. Born and raised in England, she has been living in British Columbia, Canada as a permanent resident since 2016. A solo traveler for the past 9 years, she hopes to inspire and help others to enjoy solo adventures too. As someone who has always struggled with her self-confidence and mental health, she also shares tips and inspirational stories relating to self-love, self-care, and mental health.