People often say to me, “I wish I could travel more, but…
“I just don’t have the money…”
“You’re fearless… I could never do that…”
“Aren’t you worried about being lonely?”
If you’re one of those people, please hear me when I say, “You are not alone.”
After numerous solo trips, I have come face to face with all of those obstacles and many more. And while I am getting better at handling them, I can’t say any of them have completely gone away.
Money is still an issue.
My parent’s worry is still an issue.
Concerns about safety are still an issue.
And loneliness is still an issue.
But I choose to not let these concerns hold me back, and neither should you.
Below are my thoughts on these common concerns and some tips to take away some of the power they hold over us.
Not enough money?
Yup, been there! I choose to work part time, so I can spend the rest of my time on Her Bags Were Packed, more specifically on finding ways to change lives through helping women unpack their baggage and start traveling more. I wouldn’t change any of that, but it definitely requires me to follow a very strict budget. Luckily, I have developed some pretty good hacks that still allow me to travel on my nickel and dime budget, and I am happy to share those tricks with you.
Try to remember your parents love you and feel it is their job to protect you. They’ve been around and know all the horrible things that could happen, and it’s terrifying for them to no longer have us hidden safely under their wings. But it’s their job to work through their feelings with that, not ours. Our job is to be sensitive while honoring ourselves. While I’ve yet to master this situation, I’ve found some strategies that may be helpful. Do your research in advance, so that you’re prepared to answer their questions about your destination before they start panicking. If you have multiple destinations in mind and one is considered safer than the others, consider compromising by going with the safer spot. In the end, though, you have to remember that you are an adult and are completely capable of making your own decisions. When you choose to divulge travel plans, remember you are not asking for permission but sharing exciting news.
Sometimes, yes. And sometimes, no. When you’re traveling alone, you get to do what you want to do when you want to do it, and you never have to ask permission or follow someone else’s timetable. You have no idea how nice this is until you’re actually experiencing it. Additionally, it’s not like you’re traveling to the moon where there are no other humans to interact with. Wherever you are going, there will be other people; and as a solo traveler, you will have the opportunity to absorb more because you won’t be focused on someone else. You will notice other solo travelers in restaurants and maybe invite them to pull up a chair and join you for breakfast. You will strike up conversations with the other people waiting in ticket lines and learn about some cool off-the-beaten-path spot they just discovered. You will make friends with other travelers staying in your hotel or hostel and go out exploring with them. And on the occasion when you feel a bout of loneliness, you will sit in it and let yourself feel it. You’ll talk to yourself about it, maybe journal, or go for a walk. You won’t deny your feelings but acknowledge them and embrace their role in your journey. Then you will go treat yourself to some gelato, or fresh handmade pasta, or whatever amazing thing they have where you are. Take a look around you — whether it be Paris, Rome, Nepal or Los Angeles — and crack up laughing with joy over how incredible it is that you are there in that moment.
What if something happens to me?
The reality of the world we live in is that sometimes bad things do happen. I cannot promise nothing will happen to you while traveling, just like I can’t promise you won’t get in a car accident on the way to work. But in the same way that you should be doing everything in your power to avoid the car accident (by being alert, staying off your phone, and being a defensive driver), you can use common sense to do everything in your power to stay safe while traveling: do your research on the customs and neighborhoods of the area you are visiting, be aware of your surroundings, carry pepper spray (if it makes you feel safer), don’t wear flashy jewelry, don’t carry all your cash and credit cards on you (but split it up and keep backup hidden in your luggage or the safe at your hotel/hostel), don’t tell strangers where you are staying (and feel free to lie and say you are visiting friend), and if you are extra nervous, ease yourself into it.
What are some other fears and concerns you have about traveling solo? Please share in the comments.
Or have you tried traveling solo and have something to add to this advice? Please share in the comments.