– I am tired of my daily life routine. I want to do something else. But what?
– I really like to start a travel adventure? But how?
– I really want to go to all these places (while staring at a map for an hour). But with whom?
– I really love to travel with friends, and I’ve been scheduling a meetup to talk about when, but it’s just not happening.
– I’ve been planning a trip with friends for so long, but we just can’t agree about the places. So frustrating.
All these thoughts is sabotaging your good vibes to start your first step to your dream – travel. If you have been waiting years for travel “opportunities” to come, maybe you need to think about this differently. If you continue to wait for that perfect moment, just like in everything we do, it might just not come. You might never start to travel.
Have you considered TRAVELING ALONE?
There I dropped it. Because you needed to hear it. If you have been waiting for a wake up call. I hope this helps. And if you have even a little inkling of “Yes, maybe I can travel alone“, then hold on to that. I will help you think about the rest.
Dealing with fear
Fear of the unknown is one of the most common reasons why people don’t take the next step towards something. And this is totally understandable. We have been so comfortable in our daily lives that we weren’t about to risk losing that comfort. After all, isn’t comfort what we try to live for, working all those hours?
But if you are starting to feel the urgent need to just be alone, find yourself, have space, and explore new things, then let me help you deal about the “fear” part. No, I’m not a doctor. But I will help you, based on my experience, and how I have dealt with the fear of traveling alone.
To be honest, it’s all in our minds. Your fear is based only on what you already know. But I will tell you this. If you do just that first next step for traveling alone, then you will have overcome a big part of that fear.
Some reasons you might fear traveling alone:
– I am afraid of leaving the country alone. I might get lost, without any idea where to go or what to do.
– People might think I’m crazy, leaving my job and going off alone. Like I’m some hippy with no goals and direction.
– I have never been a planner. How am I ever supposed to help myself plan to travel, and more so, travel alone?
– What if I get sick? What if someone tries to rob me? Who’s gonna take care of me?
Now, if you focus on all the bad things that can happen, then you will never ever begin your dream. And that will be a pity. In all the years, I’ve been traveling, the positive reasons have always outweighed the fears of not traveling. Maybe the fear is still there. But in time, you’ll learn to deal with it. It will be a suggestion in your head that you can control. But you will have to put the positive experiences in your head (and I guarantee you, the feelings come in droves) and you’ll learn how to deal with all these thoughts in time.
To take the first step, make an open plan. Yes, heard me right. This means you can begin with a structure, but not so strict that you will feel it’s work. Structured, but open to opportunities. This is what makes travel so fun and invigorating.
Things You Should Do First
Make sure you check and plan your destination in advance. If you haven’t thought about where you want to go before, then simply start about thinking of some possible destinations. Get a map. Check the internet. Write them down and start checking how much flights can be. You will see how easy it is to get to the flow of planning when you start. There will be some places that are more challenging to visit than the others. You can always choose to not go to places you are not ready to visit yet. Of course you will need to make sure that you are always vigilant. Take the necessary precautions. This is something you need to do not only when you are traveling, but also in your everyday life. If you prepare enough for your travel, you can practice the same precaution and preparedness that you give your normal day.
On Accidents and getting sick
If you get sick, you will find a hospital. If you lose your belongings, you will have to make many documents to take care of it. But all these problems that you “can” have, you can easily deal with them as they happen. You can be prepared for a certain level, but these are normal occurrence in life, and not unique only to travelers. So again, not enough of an excuse to not travel, if traveling is your dream. Just like when you are home, when you have a problem, you are the one responsible to fix it. This will be the same, everywhere you go. And if you put a little faith in the unknown, you will find the world is a vast place of beautiful opportunities and experiences. All waiting for you to explore.
On failures and disappointments
There might be a point when people will expect you to fail. Others might tell you that you were wrong for trying to travel alone. This happened to me. When I started my bicycle trip from my home, Madrid to North Cape (Norway), people told me that I’m gonna get tired. My bicycle is going get broken. And they were totally right. I did get tired, a lot. My bicycle had some problems along the way, too. But these things were a normal part of a long bicycle trip. I would be surprised if there were no single hiccup on that trip. Regular life has it’s own surprises anyway. But you deal with it. Just like how you deal with what can happen to you everyday. You can only prepare so far, and the rest has to be tackled when they happen. Getting tired and having problems with the bike actually opened more opportunities for me – witnessing how people will drive you even with bikes missing, more stories to tell, understanding more about my strength. That bike trip was a great example of something I could have delayed due to fearing the unknown. But if I didn’t give it a chance, I would have robbed myself of one of the best experiences I ever had traveling. I have always dreamed of traveling by bike and I was happy I did it. You can read the full story of my 9500 km bicycle trip from Madrid to Norway here.
So if some people’s opinion are letting you down, you just have to brush it off. Your goals and dreams should be much more important. Believe in yourself. When you take that next step, you will be completing an important milestone in your life. People will admire you. Some may envy you. But what’s important is you taking control and accomplishing your goal.
Are you shy? Are you afraid not getting along with people?
When you are traveling alone, you will realize how easy it is to meet new friends. It’s one of the fears that you will normally have at the beginning. But, after a few days traveling. You will see, how easy it is to make a conversation and get new friends.
Planning a trip to travel alone
First of all choose a destination.
Check travel guides, check travel blogs. Read information about your visa, vaccines and check an itinerary. Once you get your flight ticket to go abroad or a train or bus ticket inside your country, your trip is ready to unfold. When you begin to read more information about your destination, you will feel as if your trip has already begun.
The most common step is taking an airplane to go abroad. After saying goodbye to your family and friends, you will start feeling those fears again. How am I going to manage when the airplane lands in the country? How am I gonna reach the hostel or my friend’s home? If you have the information you need, it will be a breeze, once you get to your destination. Plus, never be afraid to ask questions. Everything is going to be easy. If you have doubts, try to ask someone. Try in the airport and bus/train stations. You can always find someone who can speak English. Make your own itinerary before your trip. You might break it later, but at least begin with a plan.
Where to sleep in your trip?
You can choose to sleep in a hostel where you will share the room with more people. You will meet people of different nationalities in a hostel so you will have someone who you can go out with for a walk, for a beer or another type of plan. In the hostels, you will find maps and all the information that you need to explore the city. They will offer walking tours or even night tours plus information about your next destination. You can easily find maps and places to sleep in your next destination.
Using a website to sleep for free. There are a lot of options for getting to sleep free when traveling, and a lot of them will help you gain friends and new relationships. If you want to get a detailed guide about this, check the post I wrote about the 28 ways you can sleep for free. The one I have often used is Couchsurfing. You will be able to meet locals just arriving to your destination. You will have a local friend or a family who will guide you in the city. If you don’t know where to go next, your host will advice you for your next destination. Sometimes they prepare plans for you, although sometimes they are busy. so you will also need to prepare a plan for yourself. You can also meet up people if you’re not ready to sleep at someone else’s house yet. Meet up for coffee, tea or just walking around the city.
Choose whatever works with your budget. You can always combine several options until you get a feel of what you love doing. Again, this traveling alone lifestyle can be a great way not only to learn various things about places you haven’t been to, but also things about yourself.
Once you get over the fear for your first destination, you will definitely feel a lot better for your next destination. At one point, you won’t care about planning so much. You will start to enjoy the trip and you will have a great experience.
How to meet new people while traveling alone?
Traveling alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be on your solitude the whole time. That can’t be further from the truth. Yes, you will have ample alone time, especially if that’s what you want, but traveling alone lets you have the freedom and flexibility to be out and meet a lot of different people and be flexible to different plans since you don’t have to accommodate yourself to a traveling partner’s schedule or preference.
Here are 10 great ways you can meet amazing people while traveling alone:
1. If you are staying by hostels, this will be a good starting point to meet a lot of people. There are common places in the hostels where you can meet people, like the common room or the kitchen. There are walking tours to go around the city during the day. You can go out for a beer at night with the people who are also staying in the hostel. You can have a beer in the hostel and talk to the other travelers. You will exchange experiences and information for your trip. You might be able to even meet someone who you can travel with for a week or two!
2. There are websites to meet people all over the world when you are traveling. Some examples are Couchsurfing, Travel Buddies or Travelers Meeting and Trip Together. These websites help you meet other locals or travelers who are staying in a particular area of the world. Best of all, you can send messages to these people and see who are the ones available and interested to meet you.
3. When you are traveling alone, you can meet people ANYTIME. If you are going alone for a beer, try to talk to someone. If you go for a restaurant go out for street food, you might try to ask if you can join people so you won’t have to eat alone. You can even make friends with the staff themselves and learn about how they cook the dishes they cook. Just be open to initiate conversations. If you are willing to do this, you will easily make new friends. And if you are shy, it’s better to stop thinking too much about it. Say hi to someone. Fast. Always smile and be courteous. You’ll see how easily this builds up your confidence and can easily lead to great conversations.
4. If you ask someone to take your picture in a touristic place, you can try to make a conversation. Usually, people around touristic places are traveling alone or with friends. Maybe you can find a new friend or just have a nice conversation.
5. If you are hiking alone, try to join someone or a group to make a new friend. Don’t feel shy to ask them. A small comment will initiate a conversation. If they are the one trying to make the conversation, be nice with them and try to smile, and keep the conversation going.
6. If you are hitchhiking around the country. You will meet people during your rides. They will offer you plans sometimes to show the city or visit their family. Maybe, you can get an invitation to their place. So, you will meet more friends. Have you ever tried hitchhiking? You can check some tips, here.
7. If you go by public transportation. You can meet people who are traveling alone as you. Or local people who are living there. It’s time to practice another language. English is the universal language. But if you go close to the locals. They will like to hear you speaking something in their language. Try to learn a few words to make easier communication with them.
8. When you are traveling alone. It doesn’t mean you are alone. You can join with another traveler. For example, if you are a guy and you are planning to travel hitchhiking. If you join to a girl. It’s gonna be easier to get a ride. If you are a girl and you meet a guy for hitchhiking. You will feel safer with him when you are asking for a ride. Two guys will be more difficult to hitchhike, but you will have a good friendship. Two girls hitchhiking is very easy and they feel safer together.
9. When I’m traveling alone. For example, in Asia. If I see a wedding, baptism or a celebration. I try to take pictures. It’s usually someone is gonna invite me to join them. As a foreigner, they will want to meet you. You will meet many local people at the party. And you will enjoy the feast.
10. When you are traveling alone. If you are visiting local markets. People can see you are a tourist. They will try to talk you. They want to know about you. The same way that you want to know about them. I like walking around local markets. I love coming back to eat at the same place when I stay longer in a city. In that way, you will initiate a friendship with them.
The advantages of traveling alone always outweighs the negatives.
1. You will meet more people if you are traveling alone than if you are traveling with a friend. If you travel with a friend, your bond will surely become even better. However, people will not approach you as easily if they see you traveling alone. Traveling alone usually gives you a faster opportunity to start meeting new people, even just with the people you meet on the way. People will go close to you, and some will try to help you. Sometimes, they want to meet you and have a conversation. If you are traveling alone, you will meet different people everyday. You might find it even amusing or overwhelming at one point, the no. of people who wants to meet you.
2. If you are shy, you will soon overcome that shyness. You will actually become outgoing. You will feel more confident the more you travel, and your confidence on talking to people will just get better. You will feel proud of yourself when you are traveling a longer time.
3. If you are traveling alone for a long time. You might feel the need to relax on a mountain or in a beach. You can read a book. You can think about yourself. You can think about all the experiences that you’ve been living during your trip. What do you want to do in your life? If you want to travel continuously. Maybe, you discover that you want to leave everything and try traveling around the world.
4. Traveling alone, you will have freedom. Freedom to travel to any place or just changing your plans of your trip when you feel like it. You can feel free to join someone or just keep traveling alone. Maybe, you can get an offer for working while you are traveling. So, you will travel longer. For example, I got an offer to work in Australia. As, I didn’t plan anything about my trip, I accepted it. I was working in a farm, picking tomatoes and planting strawberries. It was a hard job. But with that money that I got from that job, I was able to travel 6 months more around South East Asia.
5. Traveling alone, you can manage better with your budget. You can feel free to join or not join other plans people offer you. You don’t need to give any explanation about where you want to spend your money. You will spend your own money in things that you think are necessary for you.
6. On safety, it is less stressful to be taking care of just one person, yourself. And this is not even about being selfish. There are some people who travel and are very dependent on someone else. You need to make the choice if that type of travel partner is for you. Also, you will develop to trust your gut when traveling. Stay with people you have a good feeling with, and reject invitations from people who you don’t feel good with.
7. When you are traveling alone, you are open to fall in love. You can meet someone during your trip and travel together. It could be for a few hours, few days or a few weeks, who knows. Or just living together and spending some time in one place. It’s not unusual for you to find someone that you like and you start traveling together. Sometime, you meet a traveler like you who is following the same route. Sometimes, you meet a local. Sometimes you meet someone who will join you in your travel plan. Or you are the one changing your travel plan to spend time with someone that you feel really comfortable with.
8. Traveling alone, you will learn more things about the world and people of other culture. You are open to learning 24 hours of the day. I’ve been joining different communities to learn about how they live. For example, organic farms and Hare Krishnas. I have spent some days with them. Living with them, eating with them, working with them. After the experience, I felt really happy with all the knowledge that I learnt. And I didn’t know all those information before.
9. Good experiences and bad experiences which makes you stronger. You will have bad experiences when you are traveling alone. But you will manage to get over those situations. Like having problems crossing a border with your visa and getting blackmailed by the officers. Like what happened to me in Paraguay. Or experiences like sleeping in your tent while it is raining and it’s cold in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes you feel sick and you finally need to be strong because you don’t have anybody to take care of you. Good experiences you will have everyday while bad experiences are gonna be just a few of them.
10. After traveling alone 6 years, I can tell you. I can’t stop traveling alone!! After traveling alone for so long, I met friends at many countries. I met different kind of people. I met different kind of places and religions. It helped me a lot to grow up as a person. Something I will not learn if I just stayed at home.
And that’s it. I hope you learned something. I have been in your position, feeling intimidated to travel alone. I will tell you to just try, at least once. You can always go back when you feel like you can’t. But if you don’t give it a try, you might stay wondering how it must feel. At the beginning, when you are traveling alone, you will feel a little bit weird. But everyday, at the end of each day, you will see how worthy the experience is of traveling alone.
Here are MORE amazing resources for planning your trip to travel alone.
Jessie is a solo traveler from New York who writes in Jessie on a journey. Will is another guy who is big on traveling cheap and solo. He is currently on his 30-country-no-plane-trip from UK to Papua New Guinea. Or read the story of Danie, female solo traveler who is hitchhiking around the world. Be sure to check it out.
Let me know how all these guides are inspiring. If you still have fears, or questions, write them in the comments and we will answer them for you. We are together in this journey!
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