7 powerful hacks to overcome your fear of solo travel
June 9, 2016
I have always wanted to travel but…. Here are some practical tips to overcome your fear and live your travel dreams.
There are a lot of things that can hold you back from taking the leap into solo travel. New experiences can understandably fill you with trepidation but if you dream of travel, the lack of a travel partner should not hold you back. Every traveller once stood where you're standing, full of fear of the unknown and chose to take a chance. Every traveller I have ever talked to has said they are glad they moved forward and wished they had done it sooner. This is not just about travel, it is about finding ways to achieve your dreams.
You don’t need to be brave to travel, there is a whole range of fears that go hand in hand with solo travel. Some valid, some less so. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Safety concerns, family disapproval, being approached by men, loneliness, homesickness, getting stranded somewhere, too many choices, risk looking stupid, disasters, flying, inability to communicate, getting sick, being robbed, becoming lost, eating alone, being out of your comfort zone.
I don’t think a single one of those fears hasn’t crossed my mind at some point, but I weighed up my options and decided to go for it and they have been some of the best decisions I have ever made.
If you dream of travel, from a relaxing weekend away from the kids to ditching the group tours and heading into the world alone with your backpack. Then here are some tips and processes to overcome your fears.
Are they your fears or someone else’s? – Are you afraid of being caught in an earthquake in Guatemala or is that your mother's worry? Loved ones often want to keep us safe even after we are capable of making our own choices. If the fear belongs to someone else, then the best way to combat it is to make a strategy to reassure them that you are ok. Discussing your safety precautions and staying in regular contact has eased many a mum’s concerns.
Deconstruct your fears – The first step in overcoming fear is to identify exactly what you are afraid of. Write down what is worrying you, the things that make you hesitate or give you that swirly feel in your tummy.
Rate fear from 1-10 - Now you’ve named your fears, rate each one. From 1 not that worried to 10, I’m convinced I’m going to die. For instance, I would rate my fear of being kidnaped and sold into slavery as a 2 but my fear of getting lost in an unknown city as an 8.
Identify false beliefs – Depending on the fears you identified, do a quick web search on some statistics. What is the crime rate actually like in that city? Is there in fact easy access to English speaking staff in the hotel you’re planning to stay in?
Compare your fear to the consequences – What is the worst thing that could happen? What is the best thing that is likely to happen? What is most likely to actually happen? When comparing risk vs reward, it can often be super motivating when you realize what you could achieve compared to what you stand to lose.
Educate yourself out of the unknown - You have identified the worst scenario, so how would you deal with this? Create a contingency plan to deal with this occurrence or to stop it happening? Then go research mad, one of the biggest things contributing to unease is fear of the unknown. Scour a map, read the guide book, follow a travel blogger based in that region. Find out exactly what to expect.
Imagine the outcome you want– Positive thinking goes a long way. Picture yourself lying on that white sandy beach or scaling that mountain. Think about this every morning when you get up. Make a Pinterest board, or cut a picture out of a magazine and pin it up so you can practice thinking of your destination as a happy place.
Gradual exposure - Now start out slow. Have a solo lunch in a local restaurant, try exploring a neighbouring town for a day by yourself. Then maybe go solo on a group tour, build yourself up gradually as you overcome each of your identified fears. You will learn how fun it can be to explore on your own.
Taking the first step is always the hardest part! However, there are so many opportunities presented to us that we neglect, because of our fear and dislike of change. Travel gives you the opportunity to know yourself and grow in confidence. It is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back following your dreams and living a full life. You can do more than you imagine. Go and book a meal, a hotel or a flight. Take some action to overcoming your fears and it will change how you approach things for the rest of your life.
Overcoming your travel fears won’t just get you to your dream destination. It will teach you to face and conquer anything that stands between you and your dreams.