Afraid to Travel Alone? These 5 Powerful Tips Will Help

 

Afraid to travel alone? You’ve come to the right place!

Woman eating alone at a restaurant
Is fear holding you back from solo travel?

Are you afraid to travel alone? If so, you’re in the right place. Fear is the #1 thing that holds us back from nearly everything we’d like to do, so you’re also definitely not alone there.

In fact, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

Even veteran solo travelers are afraid to travel alone sometimes.

But here’s something both those of us who have traveled solo & those who haven’t (yet!) can agree on:

Being in unknown places, where we don’t feel completely comfortable, and we don’t know anyone… is anxiety-inducing.

In fact, even just writing that sentence made me feel a little uneasy, and I have traveled solo for more than two years!

✈️🌎🧳 Read my story of how I got started with solo travel.

So now we know the truth  that, Yes, even solo travelers have moments of fear and are sometimes afraid to travel alone — Your next thought is probably this…

Then how do they do it?

The answer is this: They work at it. Solo travelers practice traveling solo, which makes them a little more comfortable each time!

We’re basically forced to learn how to break through our negative & anxious thought patterns. This does also mean we’re better able to enjoy the solo travel adventure we’ve chosen to take!

I myself have used the 5 tips in this blog throughout the last few years as a solo traveler. They saved me on days when my solo travel confidence was lacking (or worse, nonexistent).

These mental hacks & emotional assessments are about to be the game changers you need to once & for all breakthrough your anxiety! Are you ready to no longer be afraid to travel alone!!?

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Afraid to Travel Alone? Breakthrough with These 6 Powerful Tops

Travel can be overwhelming! Solo travel can sometimes be even more so — especially if you've never done it. If you're planning or about to take your first solo trip, your emotions are likely in full on panic mode! After 2+ years of solo travel, I have these 6 proven tips & trips you're going to use & love.

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Tip #1. Forget What You “Know”

Woman eating alone at a restaurant

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Forget what you “know”

Do you want the real truth about why you’re afraid to travel alone?!

The reason you have anxiety & F.E.A.R. (AKA false evidence appearing real) about solo travel is because you have a mental picture of what it’s “supposed” to look like & you have no idea how to “perfectly” pull that off.

Do you want the secret to overcoming that?

Forget what you “know” about solo travel  immediately, if not sooner.

The reality is, if you’ve never been a solo traveler, there’s no way you can “know” what it’s like because you’ve never done it!

The thing with how “perfect” things “should” be is that you created your own definitions and scenarios to define them. What’s perfect to one person is horrible to another; meaning there is no actual such thing as “perfect.”

READ ON 🍷🍽Eating Alone While Traveling: How to Overcome Your Fear

Also, there’s no such thing as “should.”

We’ll get into “Shoulding” more in Tip #2, but let’s just say the word “should” isn’t helping to dissipate your solo travel fears!

Now, I love Instagram. I love taking pics, sharing pics, looking at other people’s pics… but real talk: ig 👏 is 👏 not 👏 real 👏. Travel influencers on Instagram are not depicting travel as it exists for the average traveler.

Rather, they are essentially advertising themselves in their best photos. The more followers, the easier to monetize their page, meaning they can get paid to travel. (No shade btw, getting paid to travel is #goals.)

However, if you want to solo travel likerightnow, you might want to forget how you think solo travel “should look. This includes forgetting what solo travel (& travel in general) looks on Instagram & in the movies.

Some of my solo travel photos 👇

Use This Exercise

Initial Thought:

If my first solo trip doesn’t look the “perfect” way I’ve always dreamt it would, there’s no point in even going at all.

Revised Thought:

Girl, we invented what the “perfect” solo trip looks like, and we can just as easily invent a new mental picture… so we can take our first solo trip already.

 

Tip #2. Stop “Shoulding” All Over Your Trip

Woman eating alone at a restaurant

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Stop “shoulding” all over your trip

As the ancient Yiddish proverb says, “We Plan, God Laughs.”

Now, no one’s advocating for not planning around here… planning & preparedness have a lot of value!

The ideal takeaway from that proverb is that you’d benefit yourself tremendously by taking the pressure off yourself to do what you think you “should” do.

What I am sayin’ is this:

Stop “Shoulding” All Over Your Trip!

Now, just what does this clever play-on-words mean to you — someone wanting to break through your fears of traveling alone.

Amazing question!

Travel, for many people, means seeing a certain number of sights & places. For me, a trip plan is basically a To Do list, or a chore list.

Having a list with a bunch of boxes you should check off is a one-way ticket to Anxietyville.

Instead, come up with a trip goal, which already sounds more fun!

Here’s an example: On this trip, my ultimate goal is self-discovery (or sub in relaxation, personal growth, peace, fun).

With a goal & not a plan, you’re free to fully embrace the best part of solo travel, which is this:

Doing whatever the fu+k you want, whenever the fu+k you want to do it! …And please do embrace that part of solo travel!

Some of my solo travel photos 👇

Use This Exercise

Initial Thought:

I’m in Mexico City. I “should” do these 14 things that I saw the most photos of on ig. Those are considered the Must Sees, & therefore I “must see” them all on this trip.

Revised Thought:

Girl, your Trip Goal is all Self-Discovery, remember? Which places on that list will lead me to crush my goal? I only “must see” what I choose. The internet is not the boss of me!

 

Tip #3. Check In Each Morning

Woman eating alone at a restaurant

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Check in each morning

We humans are emotional creatures  Meaning we feel emotions.

The thing is, that’s one of our best qualities! The sooner you know how to effectively work WITH your emotions, the sooner you will transcend most anxieties in your life — not just solo travel ones.

Since we feel so many emotions, and since they change so often, check in with yourself on each morning of your trip. In doing so, you know what you’re workin with that day.

If you know how you’re emotionally feeling, you’ll know what your logical next step is.

When you’re in this place of self-awareness, you’re never forcing what you “should” do. You’re doing what feels right.

Remember: Don’t “Should” All Over Your Trip.

For me, travel anxiety came up most when I forced myself to do what I knew, deep down, I was only doing because I thought I “should” do it.

Meaning: My emotions & intuition were telling me one thing, and my head had other plans based on it’s own agenda of “shoulds.”

The thing with anxiety & fear is that they are (at least in part) a response to how we think things “should” be…. and then, them not playing out that way.

This causes a panic because what’s happening is not what we prepared for. This also causes you to be afraid to travel alone, because there’s a chance the trip won’t go as planned.

Anxiety & fear are us not living in the moment. If we live in the moment, life is much more easy breezy because we’re dealing with things as they happen, not with how we assumed they’d happen.

Some of my solo travel photos 👇

Use This Exercise

Initial Thought:

Mornin’ Self, How you feelin’ today? Well, honestly boo, I need a spa day. I know I planned to go to that famous archeological site, & now I’m not I’m feelin’ it; but I know I “should” push through. I’m just going to force it today.

Revised Thought:

Mornin’ Self, How you feelin’ today? Well, honestly boo, I need the beach, my book, my headphones, three margaritas & a massage. I know I planned to go to that famous archeological site, but I know if I force myself I won’t enjoy it as much.

 

Tip #4. Practice Kind Self-Compassion

Woman eating alone at a restaurant

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Practice kind self-compassion

Kindness costs nothing but means everything.

I love that saying. Beyond that, there’s another popular saying in the Positive Mindset community that to quickly stop negative self-talk, ask yourself “Would I speak this way to my BFF?” (Or sub in mom, sister, partner, whomever.)

When you’re not saying positive things to yourself, the answer is of course:

Hell No, you most certainly would not.

When you’re on a solo trip, you’ll have more time than usual to hear your own thoughts  and let me tell you, we humans think a lotttttt of thoughts.

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Learn to flip your (internal) script!

Research says we have as many as 3,300 thoughts per hour! Based on statistical probability alone, some negative ones will creep in… but, as soon as one does, immediately give yourself a new one.

Or, flip the script, if you want to say it in more fun terms..

When your thoughts take a turn for the negative (or the “should” — & again, please Don’t “Should” All Over Your Trip!) remind yourself to flip the script in the most compassionate way possible.

Remember to speak to yourself with the same loving kindness you extend to your BFF (mom, sister, partner, whomever).

Some of my solo travel photos 👇

Use This Exercise

Initial Thought:

You’re in Mexico City & you “should” absolutely go to the Frida Kahlo Museum. No woman comes to this city & doesn’t go there. You’re a failure of a traveler if you don’t go & this trip will suck.

Revised Thought:

Girl, remember your trip goal of self-discovery… If you don’t think there’s any self-discovery for you at that museum, don’t go. You’re so cool for having the guts to travel solo & do it the way YOU want to do it! You are one amazing queen. We can always go to see the Frida Kahlo Museum on our next solo trip. It’s NBD, boo. I doubt the museum’s going anywhere.

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Curious about using photo editing presets? Or, maybe you've been wondering what a preset is? Basically, it's a group of settings, including the brightness & contrast. you can copy + paste from one photo to the next… or you could think of them as the Magic Sauce making everyone's INSTAGRAM so visually consistent! Get 5 FREE presets so you can experiment with editing your own photos.

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Tip #5. Take A Break Before You Need To

Woman eating alone at a restaurant
Afraid to travel alone?

Take a break before you need to

Doing whatever the fu+k you want, whenever the fu+k you want to do it.

When in doubt, remember that line up there. That’s one of the greatest gifts of solo travel: Complete & utter independence. I digress! But let’s continue…

Medical science says we’re actually dehydrated hours before we feel thirsty.

The same is true with our emotional batteries. Letting ourselves hit 0% before recognizing we needed a moment is going to for sure cause some anxiety.

In an effort to mitigate undesirable outcomes, remember you can take a break long before you think you need one!

The wonderful part of solo travel, is that when the moment hits when you want to take that break, you just take it. You don’t check in with anyone. You just stop and do you.

💡How to Get Awesome Solo Travel Photos + 5 FREE Photo Editing Presets

If you feel yourself operating at 35ish%, 🛑STOP🛑

Ask a friendly local or consult Google to find a cafe, park, wine bar, artisan jewelry shop, or whatever seems cool (& has WiFi!) near you. Go chill there until you recharge to at least 90%, or whatever number works for you.

Hitting 0% is the breeding ground for fear, anxiety & negative self-talk. Plus, you now have to recharge all the way back up to 100%, and that can take hours instead of minutes.

Some of my solo travel photos 👇

Use This Exercise

0% Thought:

Q: Girl, How you doin? A: I legit fu+king hate this city, & my hair today, & those flowers, & the blue sky, & all those people over there.

37% Thought:

Me: Girl, How you doin?

Internal Me: Well, honestly boo, I’m at 37%.

Me: OK, so let’s hit up that cute cafe we saw yesterday, refill our water bottle, use their bathroom, put on lipstick, eat an avocado toast, jump on the WiFi, listen to our favorite song, edit some of our trip photos, take a selfie if the lighting’s good, & then continue with our day.

Internal Me: OK, perfect plan. ¡Vamos chica!

 

Bonus Tips

Woman eating alone at a restaurant
Afraid to travel alone?

Travel Insurance

If you want to put your mind at ease once & for all, I can’t recommend travel insurance enough! World Nomads is one of the most well reputed & used companies in the world for travel insurance.

Don’t take any chances with your health & belongings while overseas. Policies cover a range of circumstances, including medical & dental care, luggage loss, emergency evacuation from your destination & even certain adventure sport activities.

For more information on travel insurance, I have a whole page dedicated to this topic. If safety is on your mind, get your free quote now!

General Female Travel Safety Tips

Worthwhile Mexico solo travel safety measures to take at all times:
  1. Use a cross body bag instead of a shoulder bag, and keep it at your side or on your chest, instead of on your back.
  2. Don’t put your phone in your back pocket!
  3. Take your purse or book bag into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a café neighbor to watch it. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  4. Don’t pull your phone out in a giant crowd and/or if the vibe feels sketchy. Remember, your intuition is always right!
  5. If the vibe feels sketchy, duck into a cafe, buy a water, and wait a bit until you feel better about your surroundings.
  6. Not wearing flashy clothes or jewelry (Side Note: Mexicans are relatively modest dressers).
  7. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  8. Double check to make sure you have your “PKW” (or, Phone, Keys, Wallet) whenever you’re leaving one place to go to the next… I borrowed PKW from an episode of Broad City! I miss that show.

Have any solo travel tips?

Comment down below with tips you have that will help anyone who’s afraid to travel alone. Also, which tips here resonated with you most?

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👋I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor, who ditched the office for the world! I have been a solo female traveler in Mexico for over 2 years, and now I want to pass my experience + expertise on to you!

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