Often people ask me “how can you do it?! You’re so brave!” and I always tell them if I can do it everyone can do it. And this is true, the hardest part being just to dare do it. Traveling alone is actually quite easy.
I used to be scared being in danger, I used to think it wasn’t reasonable to spend so much money on traveling and to stop working for so long, I used to fear feeling lonely, or feeling like an outsider surrounded by different cultures and ways of life. So how to stop being afraid? The key is to just do it, like taking off a bandage, one quick strike.
I had decided a while back that if the only reason why I wasn’t doing this or that was because I was scared then I should definitively do it. The more you confront your fears, the more confident you’ll feel, until you realize the only thing stopping you is you. This may sound cheesy but you and only you set your own limitations, once you realize this, your life will become way much easier.
You will always find reasons not to travel, stop overthinking it and just buy a plane ticket and go. Nothing is definitive, if you don’t like it you can always go back home, and at least you will have tried and won’t have any regrets.
You might tell me that it’s not that easy especially if you want to travel alone, but it is. Start with a short solo trip, it doesn’t even have to be far from your home, just away for a week or two. Once you realize you’re actually capable of doing it, it will become easier.
What is truly important is to enjoy yourself, not everyone is capable of traveling alone and it’s ok. I met a girl who was depressed and had lost 10kg because she was missing her family and friends. She didn’t want to go home because she didn’t want to “quit”. This is stupidity, there is no shame in realizing something is not for you, the only way to know it is to try. And then in future, you can go on shorter trips or find friends who will go with you. Remember: traveling is supposed to be fun! You may be capable of doing it but what’s the point if you’re not having fun?
This is why it can be a good idea to start with a shorter trip so you can see how it feels.
Before traveling the world like I do know, I went for a month in Mexico, I was so scared, but then after a couple of hours in the country, I realized how silly I was. And, funny thing, most Mexicans are terrified of going to Morocco and think it’s a really dangerous place, as people in Europe go there on vacation all the time and would say it’s safe.
When things are far they appear scarier than they are, especially in the news where you only hear about the bad things and never about what’s good. When I arrived in Malaysia, I was so surprised to find a country as much developed as in Europe. I actually feel safer in Asia than in Europe (doesn’t mean I didn’t have a few scares there though).
As for feeling alone, you will always meet people, trust me. I have never been the type of person who would easily go talk to strangers, I’m more of the quiet type. Well, I have much improved on that and now I make new friend almost everywhere I go. Even if you are super shy, people will always come and talk to you, especially in the hostels, so don’t worry about being lonely.
A good alternative is to do couchsurfing, people there are usually super friendly and most of the time they spend their day with you and take you around, when they can’t there’s always a friend or a family member to accompany you. If you don’t feel comfortable staying in a stranger house you can use the couchsurfing hangout app, there you can meet locals and other travelers in the same area as you.
If you are the type that doesn’t like to be alone for more than a couple of hours, be aware that some non-touristy places are really void of tourists. I have spent many days in places where you are the only foreigner. This can feel a bit lonely after a while, so avoid it if you can’t stand being alone or better option, find a buddy before you go there. There are many facebook groups that can help you with that. Just look for the backpacker group of the country you’re in and post something about where you want to go and you’ll probably find someone to join.
For me, traveling alone has been one of the best decision I have ever made. You will learn a lot about yourself, you’ll become braver, you’ll get to push your boundaries and try new things. A year ago I would not have been capable of eating alone in a restaurant, I would have felt too embarrassed, and now, of course, I couldn’t care else. Like I said the key is just to dare do it and act like if you had nothing to lose.