Scared to Travel Alone? Here’s 7 Ways to Practice for your First Solo Trip

Are you scared to travel alone? That’s completely normal.

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

Here’s me in Rome — in 2014 my first solo trip as I left to study abroad there without knowing anyone. I went back in September 2017.

We typically think of vacations as social activities, so the idea of a solo holiday might seem weird or even a little scary. You might think about if you’ll get lonely, or maybe even bored since you won’t have friends to chat to. As women, we might wonder “is solo female travel safe?”

It totally is. But that doesn’t make the idea of flying somewhere new and exploring all day on your own any less stress inducing.

The key is to work up to it. If you’re used to spending time alone, then traveling alone for the first time will be a breeze.

Here’s how to practice for your first solo trip:

Scared to Travel alone? Go to a Movie

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

I took a “solo trip to Morocco” by linking up with a tour group. This was back in 2014.

This movies is an easy place to start if you’re scared to travel alone, as one of the biggest obstacles to get over is to stop waiting around for people to come with you and just go.

Is there a movie out that you want to see, but you can’t match your friends’ schedules? Perfect. Buy your ticket and your popcorn and go anyway.

Skills acquired:

  • Enjoying your own company.
  • Having memories of an event that belong completely to you.

Eat by yourself at Fast Food Place

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

All solo female travelers must be cat ladies, right? haha. Here I am at the Cat Sanctuary in Rome in 2014.

Having the courage to eat alone is surprisingly a big deal. I think we associate eating alone with being alone, like…completely. What kind of person can’t find someone to eat with them?

Breaking through this stigma is a big part of having the courage to take your first solo trip. You’re a human being. You need food for nourishment. Eat.

Starting at a fast food place makes things easier because there might be more people there on the go. You pay, you sit down, and scarf your food while looking at memes.

Easy enough.

Skills acquired:

  • Breaking through the stigma of eating alone.

How to Start Traveling Alone: Go to a Museum Solo

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

I recently joined a tour of all the “Sound of Music” filming locations in and around Salzburg, Austria

When you’re traveling on your own for the first time, one of the things you’ll likely do is visit a museum. Why not take a dry run at home?

You can get a feel for your pace and decision making process. For example, if you can choose any museum in your entire city, and no one else’s opinion matters…which one will you go to?

Once you get there, how much time will you spend? When you’re on your first solo trip, you won’t have to rush through an activity because your boyfriend is hungry or linger somewhere that bores you because your sister is having a good time.

The freedom to make selfish decisions is one of the best parts of traveling alone for the first time.

Going to concerts or events alone is also good practice. I went to a George Ezra concert alone for this step.

Skills acquired:

  • Learning about your actual interests.
  • Discovering your how to pace yourself.
  • Making choices without anyone else’s input.

Eat Alone at a Sit Down Restaurant

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

a littler Kam trying to take in the Cliffs of Dover by herself in 2015. One of the irritating parts of solo travel — people who cut you off at the ankles.

This one might be the hardest step. I still struggle with it, actually! I think it’s because the wait staff I’ve encountered on my solo travels thus far have just amplified the stigma of eating alone, rather than just treating me like a normal person who happens to be hungry and didn’t want to wait for someone to come eat with her.

While fast food places abroad (think: McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.) will have wifi, the kinds of places you actually want to eat while traveling alone will most likely not. So, if you’re like me and don’t have an international data plan, your biggest crutch, your phone, will be gone.

What’s a girl to do?

Practice!

You won’t be as scared to travel alone if you’ve done a dry run. So, if you’ve already eaten alone at a fancy place in your hometown, when you do it abroad, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll be aware of your stressors, how they make you feel, and how you prefer to pass the time.

You might want to:

  • Read a book.
  • Write in your travel journal.
  • Keep the menu at your table to practice your language skills.
  • People watch.
  • Read the ketchup bottle 50 times.

Skills acquired:

  • Being comfortable with silence
  • Feeling at peace with your own thoughts
  • Completely breaking through the stigma of eating alone

Scared to Travel Alone? Take a Solo Flight

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

My flight to my solo trip to Berlin was delayed, making me run as fast as my little legs would take me. Good thing I’d already flown alone many times so I knew what to do!

If you’ve ever said “I want to travel alone” then being comfortable flying by yourself is a big step towards successful solo travel.

Embarrassingly enough, I had no idea how airports worked until I was 16 and went to Florida with my friend. We paid extra for direct flights from Houston because I wasn’t comfortable taking a connecting flight…because I literally had no idea how I would even find it. Until then, I had always just followed my mom or youth leader and magically found my gate.

So before traveling alone for the first time, take a flight to visit family or meet up with friends alone. This way, you can get comfortable with the check in process, security screenings, and overall airport atmosphere knowing that someone friendly and familiar is waiting for you when you land.

Skills acquired:

  • Understanding airports
  • Navigating potential problems like delays, lost luggage, and running for connections alone

The Final Step towards Traveling Alone for the First Time: Take a Solo Day Trip

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas is a great day trip from Houston or Austin.

So you’ve flown alone, eaten alone, and had a blast at the movies and a museum alone. Now what? Combine them by taking a solo day trip! Well, maybe not the flying part.

Get over your fear of traveling alone by taking a mini first solo trip.

I’m from Houston, so great day trip ideas might be to Austin or Galveston, Texas. I practiced this bit a lot when I was studying in Rome and visiting my sister when she lived in London. I’d just wander around all day and see things that *I* wanted to see.

You can try your hand at itinerary planning and pin point any other areas about solo travel that stress you out.

The best part?

At the end of the day, you’ll have basically traveled alone. You’re a pro.

Skills acquired:

  • Planning a personalized itinerary
  • Setting your own pace

Optional Step: Stay in a Hotel Alone

scared to travel alone first solo trip first time traveling alone

With Elvis’ microphone in sun studios.

This is the final hurdle that I overcame on my journey to no longer be scared to travel alone. I’d flown alone. I’d eaten alone. I’d gone all day exploring alone. But I’d always had someone to come chat to at the end of the day.

So when I took my very first solo trip to Memphis, Tennessee, the only part that was new and scary was not having a friend in the city.

For many, staying in a hotel alone is the opposite of lonely – it’s glorious. Sleeping in a huge, plushy bed and taking a ridiculously long shower without needing to worry about the water bill come to mind.

But the great thing about solo travel is that you don’t actually need to stay alone. Between hostels and homestays like AirBnb, if you want to come home for the day and be around other humans, it’s super easy.

If you’d still like to practice, consider booking a local homestay or hostel.

Hopefully these practice steps make you less scared to travel alone.

Good luck!

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27 Comments

  1. November 11, 2017 / 3:59 PM

    I love this guide! I love how simple the steps you suggest are. I remember eating out alone for the first time, and it felt sooooo weird. I do it all the time. Same with going to the movies and of course, now traveling 🙂

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:05 PM

      Thanks for reading <3 Eating alone is something I'm still working on! I have to retrain myself that eating is for nourishment and it doesn't always have to be a social thing.

  2. November 11, 2017 / 4:07 PM

    These are great! I think eating alone in a restaurant is the weirdest part for me (I don’t travel solo all the time). I can walk around all day alone , stay at a hotel, etc, but I still get nervous when it comes to sitting by myself in a restaurant.

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:05 PM

      Same! I sat about a place for about 20 minutes on my last solo trip trying to hype myself up to go inside haha.

  3. November 11, 2017 / 4:30 PM

    These are some nice tips! You’re a lovely storyteller and it seems like you’re really having fun!:D

  4. November 11, 2017 / 6:02 PM

    I love these tips! I love solo traveling, but people always look at me like I’m crazy and are like “but I could never do that!” I might have to share your guide with them!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:06 PM

      Please do! I think if more people were comfortable with their own company, they would travel more <3

  5. November 11, 2017 / 7:04 PM

    These are great ideas! I never thought to practice before I went on my first solo trip, but I love that you’re gradually gaining comfort in the areas of solo travel that can be uncomfortable!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:07 PM

      haha. I HAD to practice or I probably would’ve died the first time I went out by myself.

  6. November 12, 2017 / 1:00 AM

    Love this! As an introvert with only a little bit of solo travel experience under my belt, this is a good reminder to keep getting out of my comfort zone. I love alone time, I guess it’s just the weird stigma stuff and safety that holds me back. I’m living in Australia now as my husband’s an Aussie (I’m Canadian) and there’s so much I wanna see. Maybe stealing the car and doing some day trips on my own to explore some more would help 🙂 Good tips!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:07 PM

      Where in OZ are you? I’m moving down there for a working holiday in the spring! <3

      I agree. The stigman and pressure that I put on myself about "being alone" is one of the biggest things to get over.

  7. November 12, 2017 / 2:12 AM

    I soooooo love this guide! It made smile so big because I know some people who would love solo traveling but are really intimidated to do it. This post definitely makes it more appealing and realistic to “warm up those cold feet” and get one to build the courage to travel solo. Awesome post!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:08 PM

      Thank you sooo much for reading! I hope I can inspire people to take the leap!

  8. November 12, 2017 / 3:46 AM

    Travelling solo is so daunting at first! These are good tips to get into the groove of doing it. I do it often and make sure I ALWAYS have a book on me.

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:08 PM

      I’ve started reading way more now that I travel internationally without a phone plan haha.

  9. November 12, 2017 / 4:20 AM

    Great tips how to overcome the fear of being alone. Actually, I enjoy very much doing stuff on my own (restaurant. cafe, cinema, shopping) but when travelling I prefer some companion to share the experience with. But if I would not have one to travel with me I would still go alone 🙂

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:09 PM

      I agree! It’s always fun to have someone to chat to and share memories with. I’m learning that I don’t HAVE to have a friend to enjoy travel though. Big step for me!

  10. Jean
    November 12, 2017 / 4:44 AM

    Eating. Alone can be so daunting. So many places are judgemental. I used to travel a lot for work so had loads of solo me time. Never got over how poorly people treated me. Made me more resilient for my overseas solo travel!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:10 PM

      For sure! I think the waitstaff I’ve encountered have been trying to be kind, but it really just comes off as patronizing. Like bruh…I was just hungry. It’s all good.

  11. November 12, 2017 / 6:45 AM

    These are such great tips. I love how you talk about the skills acquired after doing each of these tasks. It’s funny. I actually like doing stuff alone. I discover that I am more independent and make decisions easier since I’m not worried about someone else. LOL. Thank you for sharing!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:15 PM

      I’m starting to find that out about myself too. like dang. It’s so much easier to get around and have a great day when it’s all about me hahaha.

  12. November 12, 2017 / 8:07 AM

    These are fantastic tips! My first time traveling by myself was in Japan. I chose that destination as my first solo travel because it’s considered one of the safest countries for women to travel. However, I was surprised by how hard it was. At night I would scroll through facebook, winding down before bed and would see pictures of friends and would get lonely. Going to various attractions, could also be a little lonely. I didn’t have anybody to turn to and be like, “OMG, LOOK AT THAT!” However, I’m really glad I didn’t wait for somebody to come with me in order to start traveling. They were some of the best experiences of my life!

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:24 PM

      I soooooo feel this! To combat that loneliness, I usually watch a show I’m really familiar with (like the Office or Friends) so it feels like I’m with people I know haha. Like I’m so attach to the characters that it’s like hanging out with them at the end of the day.

      also, the whole “omg look at that!” Totallllly agree. I’ve started having inside jokes and conversations with myself since I’ve experienced so many things where I was the only “person I know” that was there….if that makes sense.

  13. November 12, 2017 / 11:32 AM

    I LOVE this post! It made me realise that I was practicing for traveling alone for a while before going, without even knowing it! I actually got used to eating in restaurants on my own in the end. Well as much as you can anyway. And I could never understand why people wouldn’t go to the movies on their own… it’s not like you’re talking to someone the whole way through or anything.

    • November 12, 2017 / 2:44 PM

      Movies are like the EASIEST step haha. I totally agree. I started going alone as a teenager because I was homeschooled…so I could go for $5 during the day instead of $12 on the weekends with my friends.

  14. November 16, 2017 / 2:49 PM

    Love this post!! I just returned from a solo trip all around Europe. I travelled solo before but always far away in Asia, South America and places like that but it was weird to travel solo in the continent I’m from! Anyway, it’s one of the best things you can do and really love how you write about it! Amazing post!

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