Traveling solo is a big step from family vacations or going with your friends. There is no one directly connected to you while you’re on the trip, and oftentimes this dissuades many people from taking the jump. Others it’s the fear of having to plan everything. Check out our list of possible problems, and ways to overcome so you can schedule that first solo trip.
The Travel Fears
#1 No one to Travel With
This is usually the biggest problem travelers face – having no one to go with. You’ll be alone the entire trip without really knowing anyone, and sometimes this can cause anxiety within a prospective traveler.
The best way to combat this is knowing you can contact any loved one or friend from wherever you are, and the idea that friends can be made on the trip. Whether you book a guided tour or use a women’s travel group to head to another country, there are ways to meet other travelers, and many of them are going solo too. This often makes those people friendly, as they are in the same position as you.
Traveling solo is expensive. There’s no other way around splitting costs or having a friend cover your meal. It also doesn’t help that from airfare to accommodations, everything has gotten more expensive and thus harder to travel.
Ways to get around this include going during the “off-season” for whatever location you want to travel to, comparing prices of multiple hotels and flights, or looking into travel groups that might bundle together better prices. You could even try booking into a hostel, which is a more community-like rooming house that are often cheaper than a hotel.
#3 Dangerous/Safety Concerns
Solo travelers, especially women, have trouble with the hidden dangers of another city or country. Safety is always a number one priority, and solo female travelers tend to be targeted more often than groups or solo male travelers. This fear of being hurt or mugged in another country often leads to women canceling their plans, or pushing them off to a “future” date.
The best way to circumvent this fear is by researching safe places to travel, making sure where you stay is reliable, and investing in self-defense products you can use in the hotel room or in a purse. Many countries are quite safe, especially in Europe, so if safety is a concern try looking at those countries for your first solo trip.
#4 You’ll Be Bored or Lonely
Yay you’re traveling alone! But now you have no one to talk to. Similar to the “no one to go with” fear, many people think they will quickly get bored or lonely and their trip will become a bust.
The best ways to combat these fears are by planning lots of fun activities to fill your days, with a mixture of strenuous and relaxing ones. There are also guided city tours or other tourist meeting places where you can make friends with someone else for the rest of your trip. The most important thing to do is put yourself out there and see what happens.
#5 Culture and Language Barriers
Reading crucial information in another language but not understanding any of it is scary – especially if you need to get off at a certain bus stop or watch out for dangerous alleyways. Many people do not travel to other countries because they cannot read the language or adapt to another culture. Though many countries do speak in another language, many of them still speak English in some capacity.
The best way to get over this hurdle is to research countries that also speak English, at least for your first time traveling solo. Then you can download a translator on your phone, or use a language learning app such as Duolingo and get key phrases right before you leave. As long as you can recognize the basics, you should be able to make you way around a foreign city.
#6 Planning is Difficult
Since there is no one else traveling with you, that means all the planning is in your hands. From the initial flight there to living accommodations and places to visit, you have to choose everything. This can be daunting for those who have never done it before, and might make you question if solo traveling is worth it. Trust me, it is.
The best way to help with this stress is taking your time and slowly building the perfect trip, and worrying about flights and accommodations after you have where you want to go and what you want to do. You can also check out travel guides, as they have top rated places already built in and can give a basis to that first solo trip. The biggest thing is to not get frustrated and have fun with it – this is your trip, make it perfect for you.
#7 Memories Made Alone are Meaningless
If you’re not with someone to make a memory, is it even worth it? The answer is yes, but many prospective solo travelers think this is not true. Of course memories made with others are great, but making memories alone allows your personality to grow and you end up learning more about yourself than you would in a group.
Ways to get around this obstacle include appreciating the small and big moments of a trip, trying to make friends and making memories with them, or just trying to see what activities will make you the happiest.
#8 Family Responsibilities
Though some solo travelers are younger and do not have this exact issue, other travelers may have a partner and children to think about. This will no doubt cause them to question their choice to travel solo, and possibly cancel the trip altogether. This is a valid reason to be afraid to go on a trip alone, but sometimes you have to take care of yourself.
The best way to combat this fear is by talking to your loved ones and seeing what they think about a solo trip, and maybe explain why you want – or need – to go. Communication is super important, and can be the deciding factor on whether or not you book that plane ticket.
#9 Feeling Awkward Eating Alone
I honestly have no problem eating alone, but there are some people that need to have someone to talk to at a meal. It is completely okay if you need that social interaction during a meal, but that does not mean you cancel a trip just because of the fear of eating alone.
Making friends on your trip is the best way to solve this. Some people even walk up to another group and ask if they can sit with them. Sometimes people will say no and you move on, but occasionally they will welcome you into their circle and you can have a great time.
Read More: 15 Tips for Exploring National Parks Alone
But what if I get homesick? The age-old question that constantly throws solo travelers into canceling their trip, or postponing it to another time. Homesickness will always happen if you are not a constant traveler, but most of the time it doesn’t happen until a week away from home.
Set up a video or phone call during your trip to check in with your loved ones, or if you are in a different time zone send pictures and messages for your loved ones to see. In the age of technology, there are so many ways to keep in touch with anyone and make traveling a little less scary.
#11 Too Young/Too Old
Age is just a number, but many times that defines who we are and what we think is possible. Too young might prevent you from booking a hotel or renting a car, while too old might make hikes or strenuous activities that much harder. Solo travel really is for anyone though, and there are ways to get around your age.
Women’s travel groups are great opportunities to get with similarly-aged women, and will have trips geared toward that age group. Or, you can look up activities that suit your level of interest and go from there. You’re sure to meet other people in the same boat, and with time figure out your travel limits.
#12 Career Will Suffer
Our job is the way we can go on a trip – by earning money to spend. Without it we could lose everything. Some people have remote jobs that allow them to work anywhere, but many have to go to an office and may not be able to take time off easily.
The best way to figure out how to solo travel and work is learning about vacation time, or sabbaticals where you take a longer break off from your job. Nowadays as mental health visibility has grown in importance, employers are more willing to give that time. The only way you’ll know if you can vacation is by asking.
#13 Health Challenges
Our physical health is the most important thing, and it can be hard to travel if you have health issues. Sometimes these can just be small conditions, but other times they can be life-threatening.
The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about solo traveling, and ways you can prevent anything serious occuring while you are traveling. You can also wear a bracelet or have documentation on you so if something does happen, responders can help you accordingly.
#14 Fear of Not Liking Food
Similar to the health issues, not liking the main food dishes in a country can be quite detrimental. Eating is important, and several countries have their own unique food items that may steer some solo travelers away from visiting.
But, there are usually options for everyone, or you can search up restaurants that will have food items you will eat. The best thing to do is to try new food items while in a new country because you may end up loving it. I tried whale in Norway, and it wasn’t that terrible to my surprise.
#15 Don’t Have Time
Though this is last in the list, the “don’t have time” excuse is probably the oldest in the book of canceling trips. Our lives are usually chaotic, and that can often impede travel planning or going on a trip.
The best way to overcome this obstacle is making time for those fun trips, because that is the only way you will go anywhere. Setting aside time for ourselves should be a priority, but it often gets set to the side when other things come up.
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Going on a solo trip can be an eye-opening experience, but it can also be very daunting. The best thing to do is evaluate all your options, and lessen those fears of solo travel by researching, communicating, and allowing yourself to have a bit of fun.