scared of traveling alone

Scared of traveling alone? Here’s how to overcome your travel fear

Are you scared of traveling alone? A long time ago, me too. But then I realized one great thing: until I try, I’ll never know. Here are a few tips on how to overcome your travel fear!

Reader Mail: Hello Trisha! Your blog has been my bible about solo travel. The thing is I never actually left yet. I have been following you for years and even if I see you and other solo female travelers, I am still scared of traveling alone!

I don’t know how to get the courage to travel by myself. I am fighting with myself and always having inner dialogues.

Can you please give me some specific advice? I know this is a simple subject for you but it’s really a big deal for me. Help me!
– Wanda Lowe

Dear Wanda,

I am glad you are writing to me and that you are still following this journey! Look, please don’t be hard on yourself. Being scared of traveling alone is normal and to be frank with you, only you can solve that!

I understand that you turn to people like me when you seek advice but let me tell you that we are unique individuals who see things differently.

People will tell you to get over that fear but when you are not willing, it won’t happen. Like in all things in life, willingness should come first.

I want to share with you how I overcome my travel fears in this post but please note that I never got rid of them. Even after 10 years of solo travel, I am still afraid of time to time.

Fear should be normalized but our world just doesn’t respond that way. Fear is always seen as a negative thing.

I hope these tips help you and if you ever come to Mexico, make sure to get in touch with me via e-mail or via Instagram, @psimonmyway. Good luck and may the force be with you!

Xx,
Trisha

Is traveling alone scary?

Yes, of course! Especially if it’s your first time traveling solo. Look, if someone tells you that it’s not scary, it’s because we are different human beings with different experiences.

Don’t compare your one month of travel to another solo traveler’s 10 years! Most of us started scared too and that’s pretty normal!

But with time, you’ll ease up. The moment you do things little by little, you will get rid of feeling scared traveling alone. In my case, I gave it a month, and here I am – traveling by myself for 10 solid years!

 

It’s not traveling alone that is scary. It’s life. No matter where you are in the world, even in the comforts of your home, fear still arises.

Fear makes us human and it’s part of who we are. If you are not afraid, then you are not human! I tell you that if you are not scared to travel alone, you will do stupid things and your endeavor will be unsuccessful.

How do I get the courage to travel alone?

You won’t. And that’s okay. It will come naturally. We, humans, are built in a different way. You might be so scared of cockroaches and some people will find that ridiculous.

I am afraid of rats and for others, it’s not a big deal. Our level of fear is distinct so no one can really answer this for you.

And courage? It’s not something you are born with. It’s something you learn. My usual advice is to do small things first like traveling alone in your city or even eating out by yourself.

You can also do a small road trip drive from your city to another. No matter what you do, do not invite your family and friends.

Make sure you do this 100% on your own. These are just some simple tips on how to not be scared of traveling alone but in the next sections of this article, you’ll learn more.

How do I stop being scared of traveling alone?

It is so easy for everyone to tell you, “don’t be scared of traveling alone!” or “it’s so easy to travel by yourself!” I’m sure you get this a lot from other people but these people who are telling you this are not putting themselves in your shoes. This travel fear you are feeling, nobody will understand.

I know this because, for the last 10 years that I am traveling on my own, I receive a lot of reader messages – messages stating their deepest, darkest fears about going out here by themselves.

Since I have years of travel experience, these questions are super basic for me but I don’t tell people that! I can’t force you to behave or think like me especially I know that I started like that, too.

You might be super impressed with how I can navigate the world by myself now but in my first year? Jesus Christ, I was awful.

Being scared of traveling alone takes time. Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. You’ll be surprised to wake up one day that the words fear and scared are not in your vocabulary anymore.

How do I get over my fear of traveling alone?

Can I just please clarify that after 10 years of traveling alone, I am still scared all the time? For every road trip, every decision making, every single thought of living abroad or moving to another country – I am overpowered with fear until today!

Take it one step at a time. Take it day by day! The problem with fear is that the more you make it your environment and your reality, the more it overpowers you.

If you think about being scared of traveling alone all the time, then you will never get over that fear. Why not do it the other way?

Think about how brave you are and that you are not scared of traveling alone. Don’t ignore the fear because it will always be there even if you program yourself to tell a different story.

Change your story and stop saying the words “I am scared of traveling alone!” Use powerful words and it will manifest in your life – I promise you that!

You are the one who can control your reality and you can only do that if you believe. I swear manifestation is not bullshit. But it’s a lot of work.

Don’t be scared of traveling alone! 12 tips on how to overcome your travel fear

#1: Identify your fears and keep them with you

The thing is we want to get rid of fear completely. I hate to break this to you but fear will always be with us. If we don’t fear, we will not think straight.

We will cross the road without thinking. We will jump a cliff whenever we see one. Can you imagine yourself in a world without fear? It’s a disaster!

Fear keeps us sane and keeps us on track. It helps us with decision-making, with hopes that we always make the right choices.

The first time I drove by myself in Morocco, I was super scared not because it’s a Muslim country but because the Moroccan roads are crazy! I thought I didn’t make it!

With that, I drove with my fear. I let fear sit at the back seat but fear was not allowed to decide for me. Fear was just there to guide and to keep quiet but not tell me to stop on the road for a cigarette break. I was on the wheel and fear was not in charge. I was.

By identifying my fear and keeping it with me, I was able to navigate the roads safely. I knew that fear was there traveling with me but I did not let it tell me what to do. Raise your voice with fear but don’t dismiss it. Just let it know who’s the boss. THAT’S YOU.

#2: Do not invalidate your fears

Another problem that we do is that when we talk to other travelers who are more experienced than us, we quickly invalidate our fears. Listening to other people’s solo travel experiences is good. It gives you an idea of what lies ahead.

But don’t use the words “just” to your fears. Don’t sweep your fears under the rug just because someone told you so.

See also: Peru solo travel – amazing things I’ve seen and done
scared of traveling alone

You might be scared to eat street food and people might judge you for it. SO WHAT?!

My fears are mine and your fears are yours. If you feel that you are really scared about something, stop pretending that you are not. Keep your fear in check and with time, learn how to overcome it one by one just like the others did. Don’t go skydiving to solve your fear of heights. Take it easy and admit that you are scared.

All fears are valid no matter what. Do not let other people (especially yourself) invalidate what you are feeling.

#3: Alone time is a privilege

I am always surrounded by people whenever I travel and when I am over-socialized, I couldn’t wait to be alone! I’m sure there are also times when you think this way – friend’s dinner, family gatherings, etc. You sometimes ask the question, “do I really have to go to that party?!”

Or sometimes think, “I really just want to be on my bed, watch Netflix and be by myself.”

That is no different from traveling by yourself. You just don’t look at it that way. Imagine yourself in a resort in Mexico, chatting with strangers by the pool, drinking unlimited margaritas, getting sun-kissed golden skin, and not giving a damn about anything? That’s my dream!!!

Even if I am living in Mexico full-time, I still do those small escapes to resorts when I want to be alone! Rewire your brain and think about all the perks and benefits of being alone. There is so much you can do when you are by yourself!

#4: Prepare for your travel but don’t be over-prepared

Planning your itinerary and obsessing with your travel plans is another normal thing to do when you’re traveling by yourself. But what we’re doing wrong is planning every step of the way!

You need to be spontaneous sometimes and you need to be okay with things coming your way. Say YES to everything that’s good!

Recommended: Essential Couchsurfing safety tips from 10 years of experience

scared of traveling alone

As your trip date comes closer, you will find yourself laying in bed every night asking some questions that you know nothing about: what if my travel budget is not enough? What if I come across bad people? What if I get food poisoning?

It’s good to have a plan in place but cross the bridge when you get there. The only plan that you need to be obsessed with is your finances. When you are food with this, then you have nothing to worry about. The rest will figure themselves out.

#5: Accept that whatever it is you planned, it won’t happen

When things don’t go our way, we always feel robbed. But why not program yourself that there are a lot of things in life that you can’t control? Easier said than done but let me be more specific.

During my overland trip from Colombia to Ecuador, I missed one bus that I had to be on in order to complete the 4-day trip. I was late by a minute. I ended up paying extra for a hostel to stay the night and catch the bus the next day. Extra expense that I did not expense and another wasted.

I felt so pissed and stressed. After feeling all the negative emotions, I thought to myself, “so what not? What can I do?” I still had to book the hostel anyway and wait for the bus the next day. Did something change? Was I in control?

Nope. We are never in control. We can be meticulous in planning our shit but most of us don’t prepare ourselves for things not going our way. Because we live in this make-believe world that it will happen the way we want it to.

Don’t get me wrong – that’s really a good, positive attitude but you also need to give yourself room for errors. Whatever obstacle you come across, there is always a solution so why stress about it?

Was there ever a problem in your life that you never knew how to solve? It may have taken time to solve it but think about the end game: what happened? You figured it out, right? It’s the same way with traveling alone – everything will be figured out, I promise!


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#6: Keep seeing the good in humankind

When we are traveling to foreign lands and unfamiliar places, the first thing we do is judge the people around us. Well, that’s what happens at home anyway. We judge people according to race, gender, skin color, etc. Black means bad and white means good.

That’s just how our society has programmed us but for me, a long time ago, I learned how to remove that filter. I only judge a person after I’ve chatted and got to know them.

It is very normal to judge because, from judgment, you will get to know what tribe you belong to. Please remember that we humans are not built to be friends with everyone!

You may also like: 32 solo trip ideas for women, recommended by pros
scared of traveling alone

When I was backpacking South America, everyone was avoiding Israelis but when I got to know them, they became my super friends!

The point here is, if you keep seeing the good in people, you will send that positive energy and good people will always come to you. I stayed with many local families, even in the Middle East, and believe me, everyone was so good to me!

I invited that kind of energy and of course, I keep afloat by being kind and emphatic. Remember that everyone you meet is hurting, loving, feeling, and have problems of their own. Learn from it and keep seeing the good in them no matter what.

#7: Join some group tours first

Technically, when you are doing group tours, you are actually not with these people. You arrive there alone – you only get to know them during the tour. After these tours, you can either be friends or completely disconnected from each other.

But what’s similar between you and these people are they might also be traveling alone and looking for company. Group tours are the best way to engage and get to know new faces.

I actually did this the other way around. I did DIY trips first before joining tours! I was kind of weird like that. Mainly because 10 years ago, I did not have the money to join tours so I always have to do things on my own!

But now that I am financially capable, I can pay for tours and be with people whenever I am feeling alone. The three platforms I trust when joining group tours are GetYourGuide, Viator, and Expedia.

I met a lot of travelers when I booked on these platforms and they became my travel buddies! As soon as you feel comfortable after joining a group tour, try DIY trips – you’ll see how capable you are of doing activities without paying for tours!

#8: Volunteer or do work exchange

Did you know that I saved over $4,000 USD on accommodation because of volunteering?! I did this for one year and paid zero accommodations! Volunteer travel is a kind of work exchange where you work 5 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodations.

What’s so good about this is that you will stay with families and locals who own businesses in the destination you chose. Oh no, you won’t be with them 24/7. You are only with them while you’re working but the rest of the day is yours!

Read: Let’s talk about solo travel safety in Mexico
scared of traveling alone

I volunteered to teach English in a village in Sri Lanka and these kids became my family!

Staying with locals will give you the confidence to explore and get to know a country. What’s also good about volunteering is that you’re not the only volunteer – more often than not, there will be more than 5 of you, especially if you volunteer in a hostel!

I search for free volunteering opportunities on Worldpackers. They charge a yearly membership but you can access thousands of volunteering opportunities all over the world for free!

You may use my code PSIMONMYWAY10 to get a $10 discount on your first year. Try it and let me know about your volunteering experience! I want to know if it will work for you.

#9: Understand that your home can be unsafe too

Home is the place we feel safest but what we understand is a lot of bad things also happen in our “home.” As a foreigner, you will be very enticed to visit my country, the Philippines but crime rates in Manila are so high. As someone who’s from there, I never felt scared of Manila.

If you are from the USA, well… we don’t need to list down all the bad things happening in the US. You already know that. And yet you still feel that you are safest if you are in the US.

We tend to look at other countries as unsafe because we are not familiar with the layout and the culture. Of course, I am not telling you to go to war-torn countries because those are for advanced travelers.

I just want you to bear in mind that bad things happen everywhere. It does not matter where you are. You need to be okay with this but also take extra precaution.

#10: Consider your source

I understand that when you are about to embark on solo travel, you tell your friends and family about your excitement in planning your travel. If you go to Mexico, they will tell you it’s unsafe. If you say you want to volunteer in Pakistan, they will also tell you it’s unsafe.

The reason why your friends and family are telling this is because they are coming from a place of concern. This sometimes makes you feel discouraged but ask yourself: have they been to these places? What are their experiences in the destination you are going to visit?

In my experience, those who talk more are those who have never been to the country I want to travel to. They just base their facts on the news because that’s the only thing they know about that place.

When reading blogs, make sure that you are getting personal experiences and real-life stories from the writers. A lot of blog posts these days are just click baits so if it’s not a personal experience, do not rely on it!

Our lives are defined by stories and it’s always a best practice to listen or read from people who share real-life experiences.

You’ll learn a lot from things that actually happened to them – not some facts copy/pasted from a government website.

#11: If not now, when? Do you want to be scared for the rest of your life?

I am very lucky to have found my courage at a very young age. I really believe that starting to travel at 19 was one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Oh no, I am totally not an ageist. You can travel at any age you want, really. No judgment with that. What I am saying is, like all the adversaries in our lives, this too, shall pass.

There will come a time that your travel fear will be a good friend. The point is, no matter when, it will come. So why don’t you try now? That’s where you’re going anyway.

Another thing that might motivate you: is this what you want for most of your life? Do you want time to fly by without you doing what you want?

Remember that no matter what we do, the world goes on with or without us. It’s up to us to participate.

#12: All the good things will come if you dare begin

This is what we like to do: we’d like to sit down and dwell on our fears. One of the best things I learned in my life is to be a doer.

I am a doer. If I want to do something, I will take action. I don’t sit around waiting for it to happen by itself and it won’t.

When I first started traveling by myself, I knew that it will be scary. And it still is. But then when I made my first move and took action, all the good things came to my life. I manifested the kind of life that I want to live and I know that it’s all my doing.

Dare to begin and you will see how you will stop being scared of traveling alone. I’m sure you’re not convinced because I am only saying it but make your first move then tell me how it worked out for you.

☕ Do you like what you’re reading? Does it help? I take a lot of time creating valuable and meaningful content. If you like to support my content creation and my blog, consider donating to my coffee fund. Thank you in advance!

How to overcome your travel fears: save it for later on Pinterest!

scared of traveling alone

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

Comments

  • Silvia
    July 24, 2021

    Such a timely post! I am on my way to Sayulita this week. It’s my first time that I am visiting Mexico and through your post, I get more and more motivation! I found your blog through your Sayulita blogs but I never thought I’d come across content like this. If you are ever in Sayulita, I would love to meet you! What a beautiful soul!

    reply
  • July 25, 2021

    I haven’t traveled solo yet, but I do love having personal alone time. And alone time on a beach sounds so nice! I might have to use your tips and finally take that trip!

    reply
  • July 26, 2021

    Such a lovely post. Yes, solo traveling is intimidating to the first time travelers. I have been solo traveling for more than 8 to 9 years now and as you said even I get scared when I am solo traveling. But it is a privilege and there are more benefits to it than not.

    reply
  • July 26, 2021

    I am sure that most people feel a bit scared when they first start to travel along. But I think that the more you do it, the greater your self confidence becomes. And if you successfully deal with an issue, it builds your confidence more. Like most things I have been afraid to try, the more preparation and risk management I do, the less the fear is irrational.

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  • July 27, 2021

    Thank you for the encouragement. I am not really keen on traveling solo but after reading your post, it would be cool to overcome my travel fears. Will definitely try to travel alone when I celebrate my 30th birthday as a gift to myself.

    reply
  • July 27, 2021

    I think this are valuable tips for first time solo travelers. Sometimes I think that social media put a lot of pressure on people to do things as it always looks so easy if other people do it. I am a big fan of not staying in your comfort zone all the time, but having an escape way or at least an idea of what to do, if things get really uncomfortable.

    reply
  • July 27, 2021

    Wonderful post. The answers are amazing and I could help nodding most of the times. You have rightly said, it is only us who can win over our fears. And I could totally relate to my first time. I was scared and even now I am but yes with experience, things have changed. And yes, even today the fear of travelling alone is not gone but the experience makes it worth it. Also, one must manifest only good things. Hence all good will happen.

    reply
  • July 27, 2021

    I love your confidence. While it is daunting to travel alone, it’s also a lot of fun. In india, it’s not safe to go alone, but we can do it. I am going to wash this belief out of my system and probably travel alone now.

    reply
  • Renee
    July 29, 2021

    Inspiring others through your confidence- I love it! Some very insightful tips shared. Fear is in all of us, and facing those fears is when we grow. I can’t think of a better way to grow than to be a solo traveller.

    reply
  • Jennifer L Prince
    July 30, 2021

    This is such an important topic! For me, it depends on where I am and at what hour. And honestly, lots of it comes down to intuition and how I feel about a place or situation. Never deny that gut instinct!

    reply

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P.S. I'm On My Way is a blog by Trisha Velarmino. She didn't
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