No matter if it’s your first or 100th time, traveling solo is always an adventure full of inspiration, learning and fun. However, like everything in life, it can also be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you’re prone to feelings of anxiety. If you have butterflies in your stomach when thinking about solo travel (and not the good kind of butterflies), here are a few ways you can conquer your fears and become a brave explorer of the world:
Choose your destination
If this is your first solo trip, make sure to make it as easy and safe for yourself as possible. Unless you really have a trip in mind, it’s best to opt for a destination that has a high level of safety for both men and women (East Asia is usually a great choice), as well as a place that’s easy to explore and is home to friendly people (no matter if you’re planning to socialize or not).
Once you have a few options in mind, make sure to learn all about their local tourist scams (every country has those), learn a few phrases in the local language or read about the etiquette so you don’t offend anyone or embarrass yourself.
Plan your itinerary
For many people, anxious feelings sprout from lack of control, so if you want to alleviate your symptoms of anxiety and stress, take time to plan a few first days of your trip. Check out the map of the airport, Google what to do in case your luggage gets lost, see how you can arrange transport from the airport to your accommodation, grab tickets for attractions, download maps of the city, etc.
Make a list of all the places you want to visit, come up with a timeframe for every event and you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises. You don’t have to stick to your plan, but if you feel anxiety creeping in, you’ll know that you have something to fall on.
Most solo travelers are concerned with safety when traveling, especially women. However, if you use common sense, you’ll be just fine on your own. To stay safe, do as the locals do. Find a comfy place to sit, relax and people-watch—that’s a great activity that allows you to learn about locals and the place you’re in. Also, you will certainly want to take photos, but tone it down.
If by any chance, you’re traveling by car, do some research here and get the right car insurance for your needs. This will allow you to relax even further. Naturally, don’t get too drunk or engage in any illegal behaviors. Getting in trouble when you’re far away from home can be a horrible feeling. When in doubt about the things you want to do, ask locals or consult Google.
Journal during your adventure
Many people who suffer from anxiety and chronic stress have a task to journal about their feelings. Well, you can take your habit with you on the road. Write down your feelings, both positive and negative ones. If an experience turns out to be less scary than you expected, pay special attention to this positive development. In case something goes wrong, reflect on it and work out all the negative feelings so you can leave them in the past and continue your adventure.
Visit people you know
You can plan your route around the people you know and trust. This will not only allow you to save on hotels for a few nights but also beat loneliness and stress. Sharing your journey with someone you love is a great way to relax and feel safe.
Plus, if they are local to your destination, you will get a lot of useful first-hand information about must-see places, places to avoid and things you must have with you at all times, that might alleviate your anxiety even more. Also, make sure to stay in touch with people at home. Even a short message or a video chat will allow you to stay connected and reduce your travel anxiety.
Know when to return home
Solo travel is not for everyone, so don’t feel like you need to push your limits and expose yourself to all the anxiety. If it’s not the right time for you to be a solo traveler, you can always abort your plans and go home. No, you’re not a failure for giving up—you tried something new but didn’t like it and that’s the end of the story.
If you plan it carefully and execute it smartly, being a solo traveler is an amazing experience of self-discovery. You will test your limits, strengthen your body and mind and come back with more confidence than you’ve ever imagined you can have.