Does this sound like you? Do you want to see the world but think that there needs to be someone else with you to do that?
When I was in high school, which were the glory days of my guitar playing, I would try desperately to recruit other friends into wanting to get their own guitar. More than anything, I wanted another girl to play guitar with because at the time, I was one of very few female guitarists that I knew in my town.
So, if a friend came over, I’d spend a little bit of time showing them easy chords until they felt excited about the possibility of playing guitar. Why did I do this? Because… well… I felt overwhelmed by all the guy guitarists — the ones busting out crazy fast metal songs or the ones busting out Jimi solos behind their heads. Even going to the guitar shop to buy a pack of strings was intimidating and having someone with me on that journey was sure to lessen the awkwardness.
You can apply the same idea to world travel where going on this big trip by yourself can seem very overwhelming. Many people will not set off on such adventures without a travel buddy because… let’s face it… solo travel can be scary!
I know because I have both been afraid to travel solo but have also done most of my travel alone (much like the people we talked to last week who have a fear of flying but still manage to do it).
But why, Brooke? Why go alone if you don’t really want to?
That’s easy! Not everyone has the same travel dreams that I do, so finding a friend that wants to do the exact thing is just not a possibility. Instead of sitting at home and thinking that I’ll never be able to travel because I can’t get so-and-so to do it, too, I simply decided to fulfill my dreams and set off on the solo road.
Benefits of Solo TravelSince then, I have traveled to places like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and New Zealand all by myself. Not only have I managed to survive without any major hiccups, health concerns or threats to my safety, but I have also grown and benefited from solo travel in many ways:
Solo travel has a way of making people stronger. I don’t think it works for everyone, so if you go and find yourself in solo travel Hell, I apologize. For me, however, I find I become a lot more confident on the road when I am basically forced to do it all myself — find food, book accommodation, deal with local transport (and taxis!). I sort of throw myself into the mix and it works!Solo travelers generally tend to be more open to meeting others. Now I said generally, but not always. I find that if people have travel partners, they already have plans and tend to go about those without the need to seek out new travelers. However, happening upon other solo travelers in hostels and such can put you in touch with some of the best travel companions you may ever have!
Solo travelers get to do what they want and when they want it. There’s no need to collaborate with other members of the group. If you want to change plans at the last minute, that’s OK!
Tips for Lessening Solo Travel Anxiety
Now that I’m a seasoned solo traveler, I don’t hesitate to go it alone, and I will tell others to do the same. However, if I ever do get a little nervous or flustered, I tend to do the following:
- Remind myself that thousands of other travelers are out there traveling solo right then and now, many of which are going to the same destination as me.
Other tips for the apprehensive solo traveler:Join a group tour. Tours like Contiki, Intrepid and Gap Adventures have long tour options with bunches of fun, adventurous people. You’re never alone and you don’t have to tend to the daily planning because it’s all done for you!
>> Other options include Wwoofing and volunteering.
Book into hostels, especially smaller hostels. I find that big hostels like the YHA chain in Australia come with more of a hotel vibe, which means it is generally less of a place where you can meet other solo travelers. I love the family-style hostels with good communal rooms where travelers can congregate to chat.
>> Read about my favorite hostels around the world.
Try CouchSurfing. When you CouchSurf, you are staying with a local, and that means you are instantly introduced to an insider and also someone who might be willing to show you around.
Trial a short solo trip. Go away for the weekend to somewhere nearby all by yourself. Try eating out solo, too, as that tends to be a source of discomfort for many when traveling.
Read solo travel blogs. It’s always good to read about the day to day experiences from other travelers that have managed to be solo in some crazy parts of the world. When you are able to put yourself in their shoes, it can sort of put the idea into perspective.
Solo Travel the Way to Go?
I often feel that I wish I had a travel partner with me (yay for upcoming trip with Patrick!) — to share in the adventure, to lessen the awkwardness of some situations, and to just chat with on those long bus rides — but I also firmly believe that solo travel has its place, and in some cases, is just better.
What do you think? How do you feel about solo travel?
This has been the final post in a series on travel anxiety.