So you’ve given a heart to the thousandth selfie on a tropical beach while slowly descending into a sloth mode on your bed. Your thumb is stronger than your spirit. Daydreaming seems easy enough, but when it comes to reality, you come down with a bad case of jitters. Maybe you’re curious, maybe your friends’ agendas are as busy as VIPs’, maybe your sister got on your nerves way too much. Regardless, solo traveling has been on your mind for a while now – yet something always seems to stop you from just doing it (and Shia LaBeouf is not too pleased about it).
Luckily, your pit stop here is exactly what the doctor ordered. This is a (mile)stone that I’ve kicked more times than I can count – and while fears and anxieties of the sort are legitimate, there are times we should push ourselves out of our comfort zone.
Something bad could happen to me!
Indeed, I won’t sugarcoat it – there’s always a chance misfortune may strike. However, being on your own in a foreign country does not make that country a minefield. There’s no intrinsic consequentiality in this. First of all, bad things can happen at any time, in any place – yes, we’re off to a great start, but I promise my argument will get more convincing. Of course, it’s scary, being far away from home and relying solely on your common sense. The sort of feeling you get by wondering your city in the dark, alone, at 3 am. And of course the news will persuade you that a bad guy with a hoodie is always waiting for you behind a tree. But hold on here – tell me, when is the last time you’ve heard good news on your TV? Quite rarely you’ll learn about a baby panda rolling on the grass or a dog becoming mayor. In the end, it’s all about being cautious and prepared. Your mum’s warning, “never accept candies from a stranger” is evergreen. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mingle with the locals; simply, that a bit of caution is key.
I’m scared of flying!
Laugh at me all you want, but I’m honestly not too fond of planes. And I’m sure some of you relate. Sure it’s an irrational phobia, but that’s what makes it harder to battle it. Did I get over it? Not entirely, to be honest. Do I let this stop me from traveling? Hell no. Obviously, I get more anxious when I fly alone, as no one is there to hold my sweaty hand. (Well, that might change if your seat neighbor is particularly friendly). But I’ve always applied the baby-steps technique, focusing on one task at a time – from packing up all the way to stepping into the plane. I strive to make my flight as comfortable and fun as it can be: noise-canceling headphones and a good playlist, a sleeping kit, some snacks, maybe some crosswords. And while I still gulp and sweat a little, I can assure you, it got better over time. Some little expedients as well as an informative reading can make the whole difference. Train your mind to accept that some things are out of your control, and that’s okay; practice some good breathing; focus on the wonders of your destination; ”the climb might be tough, but the view is worth it”.
I’ll get lonely for sure!
I won’t lie, there might be some moments of solitude on your solo travel. Personally, I thrive for some alone-time, even better if it’s somewhere wonderfully new. But some of us fear the relationship with their own minds, and others tend to get bored easily without some companionship. Luckily for you, there’s plenty of fish in the sea – only the fish are actually solo travelers just like you. Of course, people around the world have been going solo since the beginning of times; but in the last years, solo traveling has actually morphed into a global trend. Just like you, many of these wanderers strive to gather a random fellowship to create those once in a lifetime memories. To make your quest even easier, you can opt for a traveling style that already comes with a bit of a crowd: book a bed in a hostel, scavenge the web for some fun activities like concerts and group hikes, sign up for guided tours – and the list goes on. Honestly, this approach will simply boost something that it’s easier said than done: most of the random, pleasant meetings I had started with a tap on the shoulder while sitting on a bench.
I don’t know where to start!
Even the Junior Woodchucks don’t always get it right, relax. The overall organization of a trip can look more scary than exciting if you’re doing it alone – especially if you don’t have a knack for arranging your agenda. You fear you won’t take good advantage of your travel and you might as well give up before even starting. But I urge you to see the actual potential of traveling solo when it comes to planning. I don’t know about you, but I learned the hard way that finding a good travel companion is a tough quest. Some were just walking too fast; some wanted to hit every museum of the city and wouldn’t even stop for a bite; some lived for booze and parties; and others would not take me to the dinosaurs exhibition. I’m a slow walker: I love to soak in all the beauty, even if it means sacrificing a stop on the itinerary. I don’t mind nights out, but I like to balance them with some due rest more often than not. And damn, I wanted to see those dinosaurs.
My point is: without the compromise that comes with travel companions, you can explore the world at your own pace. No one will rush you if you feel like napping in a park a little longer; no one will judge you if you’d rather stay in and relax instead of partying all night for once. Your itinerary can match your personality without questioning, and can be filled with plenty of last-minute additions – because no one will be there to hold a grudge on you for that.
Do yourself a favor and give it a try.
Don’t let your comfort zone turn into a golden prison. Don’t let your fears and worries pilot your life in a way that makes you frantically bite your nails. Quite simply, don’t wait for regrets to knock on your bedroom door.
Besides being a phenomenal adventure, solo traveling is a highly formative experience. It makes you learn about your limits and your strength to overcome them. It allows for a needed break from a sometimes too dense reality. It helps you to deeper understand your taste and preferences for everything in life, and it gives you the chance to appreciate your own voice and thoughts more intimately.