Are you scared to travel alone? That’s completely normal.
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
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.
- Enjoying your own company.
- Having memories of an event that belong completely to you.
Eat by yourself at Fast Food Place
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.
- Breaking through the stigma of eating alone.
How to Start Traveling Alone: Go to a Museum Solo
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.
- 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
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?
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.
- 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
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.
- 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
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.
- Planning a personalized itinerary
- Setting your own pace
Optional Step: Stay in a Hotel Alone
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.
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