For many people, traveling alone can be scary, I’ve spent years waiting on friends, planning trips that never happened only to be fed up one day and decide to go on my own. That’s one of the best decisions I ever took, taking the first step was the hardest, but once I did it all became much easier. Here are some tips on how to overcome your fears of traveling alone and on making solo-travel easier.
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1 – Start small
You don’t need to start your solo travel journey with a 6-month backpacking trip, start by traveling alone for the weekend, not too far from where you live, then try a week. You need to see first if you’re comfortable with traveling alone.
Sometimes you want to travel the world but it seems too much. Once you realize you’re fine traveling alone you’ll manage to plan this trip you’ve been dreaming about. That’s why starting with small trips is best.
2- Start doing things on your own
Being alone for many people can be complicated and hold you back from traveling. Challenge yourself, go to the cinema alone, or even to the restaurant, once you can do that, the idea of solo traveling will become more appealing.
3 – Find a travel buddy
If traveling alone is too much for you, you can easily find a travel buddy. There are many websites and Facebook groups where you can find other solo travelers. You can start your trip with someone and try to go on your own once you feel more comfortable.
4 – Don’t over plan
One of the best things about solo traveling is being able to do what you want when you want. There’s no need to plan your exact itinerary and each day in advance. Let the adventure guide you, maybe you’ll meet people you want to travel with for a while, or you’ll hear about this great place you didn’t know about. Possibilities when solo traveling are endless, just keep your mind open and be flexible.
5 – Pick the right destination
Some destinations are more popular than others, I always recommend starting solo traveling in Southeast Asia. SEA is a popular destination among backpackers and solo travelers, there you’ll be able to find like-minded travelers and won’t feel alone. Also, everything is adapted to tourism everyone speaks English, in short, it’s easy to travel there.
6 – Be prepared
If you tend to be scared, planning ahead will help you feel more confident. Learn about the destinations you’re going to (culture, safety, how you should dress, food, history, transportation system, common tourist scams…) The more you know, the more prepared you’ll feel.
Try to plan at least your first day: try to arrive during day time, book your first night, and find out how you’re going to go to your hotel from the airport. Don’t forget to plan how you are going to get cash (at the atm or exchanging currency).
Make copies of all your important documents and save them on a cloud or send them to your email.
Make sure to have a map on your phone that works offline (you can check out Maps.Me).
7 – Use Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is the best when you’re solo traveling. If you haven’t heard of it, Couchsurfing is an app that connects you with locals and fellow travelers. The main feature is the hosting part, where locals open their homes to tourists and you can stay for free. See it as a cultural exchange. Often, your host will spend time with you, sharing a meal or showing you around.
You can also use the Hang Out feature, you turn it on when you’re available and you can see who else is free around you. You can meet-up people for drinks, or to eat, but also to visit the city.
Also, check the events section, many locals will organize meet-ups or a trip somewhere. Couchsurfing is a great way to meet people especially when you’re solo traveling.
8 – Stay in hostels
Hostels are also great to meet people. If you don’t feel like staying in the dorm, many hostels offer private rooms as well, and you can meet people in the common rooms. Don’t be shy and try to talk to people, you’ll easily make friends and find travel buddies for the day.
Read my complete guide about staying in hostels.
9 – Join activities and tours
Joining activities and tours is another way to socialize, check out what the city or your hostel is offering. Sign up for a cooking class or a pub crawl, and join a free walking tour.
10 – Don’t be afraid to talk to people
The tips above will only work if you talk to people. It can be hard if you’re shy or an introvert, but you’ll see the more you force yourself to start a conversation with strangers, the easier it will get. Start with something easy like where are you from? How long have you been here? and such. Trust me it will get easier, just pretend you’re not shy at first.
11 – Trust your instincts
Solo traveling can be scary because it can seem more dangerous than being in a group. Always trust your instincts, if a situation starts to feel sketchy leave, and don’t worry about hurting someone else’s feeling thinking “maybe I’m just being paranoid”.
I once almost did a Couchsurfing with a man offering a private room, but when I arrived it was a shared bed. I left. Always have a plan B, try to arrive at your destination during daytime, and don’t be afraid to say no thanks and leave, in any situation.
12 – Don’t be afraid
It’s easy to say don’t be afraid but it’s harder not to be, especially when safety is involved. What I realized is the more I do things that scare me, the less scared I am. Sometimes you are just scared of the unknown but once you’ve been there, once you’ve done it, you realize it was just a silly fear.
To reduce fear, be prepared, know the dangers, learn how to avoid them, accept the risks, keep your eyes open, and trust yourself. Most bad things that can happen during a trip can also happen back home and are out of your control.
13 – Know when solo traveling is not for you
Solo traveling is not for everyone, and it’s fine. I’ve met so many people that were depressed but had to finish their whole trip, they were miserable traveling alone but were too proud to admit it.
It’s a good thing to get out of your comfort zone but it’s also a good thing to listen to yourself and know when something is just not for you. If you feel like you’re missing your family and friends too much, then choose to go solo traveling on shorter trips. If you just feel generally alone, think about volunteering, you’ll stay at the same place for the whole trip and interact with the same people every day, and so, make more meaningful connections. For volunteering opportunities abroad, you can check out WorkAway.
Did I miss anything? What is your top tip for someone wanting to start traveling solo? What’s your experience traveling alone?
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