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Please Don’t Be Afraid To Travel On Your Own

Bundi, India
You want to travel. You make a vague plan. Maybe you’ll fly to Thailand or maybe to Mexico, but either way, you’re leaving in six months time. You start saving money, you start doing research every single night and your level of excitement grows with each passing hour.

Of course, as this will be your first ‘real’ travel experience, you naturally prefer to travel with other people and so you start asking your friends to join you on your epic adventure. As you show them photos you found online of white sand beaches on a Thai island and of the Mayan ruins of Chichen-Itza, you are more than confident that you will have a travel partner or two in no time at all.

But interestingly enough, the first friend you ask, perhaps your closest friend, turns you down. And so you move on to the next friend, but they too, tell you that they have no desire to join you at all. The third friend, the fourth friend and even that guy that you don’t really like but whose company you think you could stand for a few months in Southeast Asia, all say no as well.

Suddenly, you are faced with the idea of embarking on a journey to faraway and very foreign lands all alone. You start to doubt whether or not you are up for the challenge, whether or not you have the courage necessary to survive as a solo traveler.

Maybe you decide to postpone your trip for another six months, hoping that one of your friends will change their mind and decide to tag along. Maybe you decide to forget about your trip altogether, fully convinced that you can only travel so far away from home with a friend or travel companion by your side.

You still desperately want to travel, so much so that you still spend many a night awake in bed researching random destinations, reading every travel article you can find and browsing through travel blog after travel blog. But now you try to accept the fact that what you read and see online is as close as you’ll come to actually traveling yourself.

DON’T GIVE UP JUST YET!

Perhaps, during your online dreaming, you stumbleupon my travel blog and you decide to stick around long enough to read a couple of posts. Maybe you find yourself reading this very post and you can relate to that process of giving up on your travel goals simply because you don’t want to travel alone. And in all honesty, if that is the case, then I’m quite happy that you are reading this post right now.

Here’s my advice to you. You may be on your own when you board that flight to Bangkok or Mexico City, but believe me, once you arrive, you’ll NEVER actually be alone.

That’s how travel works. Unless you stare at the ground and never talk to anyone, you’re going to meet people when you travel, lots and lots of people from all over the world who will be interested in meeting and hanging out with you. In fact, meeting new people is probably one of the easiest things to do when traveling because you have an instant connection with every other traveler. All travelers are strangers in a foreign land and as a result, we often would love an opportunity to travel with a new friend.

Maybe you’ll meet someone at the hostel or guesthouse where you’re staying or at a cafe, in a shop, on a bus or just in the street. Maybe you’ll end up wandering around a city for an afternoon with this person and then parting ways. And the next day, you’ll probably meet someone else to share new experiences with as well. Perhaps you’ll meet someone and decide to travel together for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks. Maybe your plans match up so well that you team up for a month or more.

The point is, you’ll meet plenty of people in just about every single corner of the world, even if you’re the most shy, introverted person on the planet.

Drinks in Mumbai, India

MY FIRST SOLO TRIP

When I left for Southeast Asia back in 1999, I did so all alone. Sure, I asked every single one of my friends to join me, just as most of us would do, but they all said no. However, after a long, hard internal debate, I made the decision to visit Asia anyway, with no travel companion. And this decision proved to be the most important decision I have ever made.

I won’t lie to you. When I boarded that flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, I was shaking. I was so scared of the uncertainty that awaited me that I could barely even think and as a result, I couldn’t help but realize that this was the most terrifying experience of my life.

In fact, several years later, when I was given ten seconds notice one day that I would have to give a forty-five minute presentation to 1000 people on a cruise ship, the fear I felt at that moment was NOTHING in comparison to how I felt on that flight to Thailand.

But of course, despite the fear, as I soared high over the Pacific Ocean, high over Taiwan and eventually into Southeast Asia, I knew that there was no turning back.

AND THEN MY FLIGHT LANDED…

…and I passed through immigration and customs at the Bangkok Airport and I even managed to make it from the airport into the city center without any problems despite the fact that it was after midnight. I spent the night in a budget hotel room and then, during my first stroll around the streets of Bangkok the very next morning, I met a British traveler at a cafe. We started talking and sure enough, we both had planned to travel overland to Cambodia in order to celebrate the Millennium at Angkor Wat.

That was it. Just like that I had a travel partner, less than nine hours after I had arrived in Bangkok. And we got along so well that we ended up traveling together for almost two months.

Will that happen to you when you embark on your adventure? There’s no guarantee of course. But again, if you look up, smile and start conversations with those around you, the chances of you actually being alone are quite miniscule (unless you want to be alone).

And before long, you’ll understand why I answer every single email that asks me what it’s like to always travel alone with the very same response. I simply say, “I may be a solo traveler but I’m never really on my own.

So, with that now said, I urge you to not let the fear of traveling by yourself stop you from achieving your travel goals. It would be such a shame to let that happen, especially when that fear will disappear shortly after you arrive at your first destination.


Have you experienced this fear? Have you reconsidered your travel plans when your friends didn’t want to join you? Do you agree that meeting people is quite easy while on the road?

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379 Responses to Please Don’t Be Afraid To Travel On Your Own

  1. Prajna says:

    I made it.. solo travel! Thanks for the inspiration :)
    I invite you to read my blog :)

  2. Adrian Dunwell says:

    Hello,

    I am 19 years old. I work in IT and earn a reasonable salary, so I am saving to go on my very own solo adventure.
    I am only 19 years old so this may sound weird, but I really do want to go out and explore the world and live with locals of foreign countries. The idea of meeting strangers and travelling with new people all the time is absaloutely thrilling and it would also give me the time to have a spiritual trip.

    I was curious as to what your opinion is on this? Am I too young? Am I financially strong enough? I still get scared at the thought of being on my own, but at the same time I am excited by it!

    Help meeeee :)

    Regards,
    Adrian.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Adrian – That’s very cool that you want to get out there and travel. It’s hard for me to answer your questions though as everyone is different. Are you too young? There are 18 year olds out there who have no problem traveling on their own and there are 50 year olds who don’t like it. It really depends on how you feel…do you feel ready? If you do, then you’ll probably be just fine out there…if you feel like you aren’t quite ready, then maybe you should wait a little while longer. Only you can answer that! As for finances, again, it depends on the traveler…it depends on your travel style, where you want to visit and on and on in order to determine how much money you need. Budget travel in India will cost much less than budget travel in Japan. Mid-range travel in Western Europe will cost more than in Eastern Europe. Once you figure out how you want to travel and where you want to go, you can start to figure out how much money will be required.

    • Madison Hendershot says:

      Adrian,

      I just want to say, you are not the only 19 yr old wanting to travel at such a young age. I am as well, and am currently planning a European trip with a friend from school. Because I am a college student, and female, I get scared at thinking about going somewhere new on my own. I’ve only been out of the US one time, and that was to Canada and as a trip with school, so I wasn’t necessarily traveling alone. I believe that it is best to travel at this age, or in our young twenties, because we are still growing, and we are still open to the world around us. It’s not “weird” or strange. It’s a natural feeling to want to learn and to want to meet new people and to experience new cultures. I also believe that feeling scared is natural as well. You’re going out of your comfort zone and trying something new. You are taking a risk and living your own life. I think of traveling on my own this way, if you have other people traveling with you, you don’t get to see the things you want. I’m really into photography, and when I take pictures I don’t get more than one block down the road without taking about 100 photos, or more. If I were to have other people with me I wouldn’t be able to stop and look at all the interesting things that I see, because others don’t see the same thing. I have a different perspective when it comes to taking photos, and when I’m in a new place I like to be alone, so I can experience everything the I want to experience them. So, I believe that if you think as traveling alone in a positive way, and all the great things you will be able to experience and take home to your family, and possibly take them there one day, your feeling of being scared will just melt away and it will make you that much more excited.

      Sorry for the long comment, but I hope this helps. And good luck planning your trip!

      -Madison

  3. Pauline says:

    You should never be afraid to travel alone! Or even worse, to reconsider or cancel your plans because someone ditched you!
    You will make the most beautiful encounters one your way!

  4. James says:

    Hi

    I’m a British man and I am heading out to the Philippines myself in about two months time, I will be travelling alone but meeting up with a lady when I get there, although it will not be in the capital Manila, so I will be travelling from Manila alone.

    I have no idea what to expect, I have never been outside Europe and have not travelled outside Britain for more than five year’s.

    I’m so nervous but although I face a long journey to get there I am not backing out.

    What can I expect?

    • Andraz says:

      Dont worry. You will have the time of your life. :)

    • A Filipina says:

      Hello. :)
      You may hear a lot of negative things about the Philippines, from the stunted government to the traffic to the ripping-off cabbies, but remember, not everyone’s out to mug you. So let your guard down and enjoy what the country has to offer.
      Cheap yet delish eats, white sandy beaches, and hospitable citizens- what more can you ask for?
      Of course, every place has its share of thieves and conmen- just treat people the way you would like to be treated and they might just do the same.
      Have fun and God bless you on your journey.

  5. Catherine I am an older Australian and September 2013 I was in India for 28 days it was a fantastic experience and well worth going there, But not for a female on her own, Please do not do it alone. there are sections of Indian society that have no respect for females, be warned do not go there alone. Regards George

    • Wandering Earl says:

      I would have to disagree with this one. If you do a quick search online, you’ll find no shortage of examples of females who have traveled to India on their own and who had nothing but positive experiences. I have three close female friends who did just that – one of them is going back for her 3rd solo trip there in 2 years. So I think it has more to do with travel experience and preparation, and making sure you use common sense at all times.

    • neize says:

      Hi George,
      I’m a mature woman planning going to Asia.It will be a solo travel.Do you know something about it? Does it have the same problems as in India? Thanks

  6. Pingback: Do You Have Enough Confidence to Travel? You Should. | The Traveling Entrepreneur

  7. Lin says:

    Mid-fifties and just revving up for solo travel. Booked with a group tour out west US in January, then I hope to keep moving forward and be more independent. My husband is a home-body but I’ve Got To Go!! Any suggestions or correspondence from other ” boomers” would be welcome.

  8. Pingback: 11 Blogs Every Travel Addict Should Read

  9. Brett says:

    Yup Im going to Thailand this Dec 06 for 3 weeks! I’ve done a resort in Cuba by myself…. A bit akward at first but then I met everyone on the resort!

    I think backpacking will be much different and am looking forward to it. Another adventure!

    • Ari says:

      Hey I’m thinking of going Around the same time for 3 weeks but terrified of the idea of being alone. I’ve never traveled alone before but like meeting new people. Just the thought that worst case scenario I’ll actually be alone gives me the chills. You nervous at all?

  10. Tuush says:

    I am 24 year old from South Africa and wanting to travel alone to Thailand in April 2015 to 03 May 2015.

    Not there for long but hoping to do Bangkok, Phuket and Chaing Mai.

    Your blog and comments have reassured me that it’s okay and normal to do so. Tad bit sceptical about backpackers and bnbz so have many friends have requested hotels.

    I really want to make friends and meet new people.

    Any ideas

  11. Ben says:

    Epic blog man!
    its weird how people thousands of miles away and several time zones and some odd years can be so linked *swoons the never ending and expanding and AMAZING synchronicity of the “human existence” (pauses for a metaphysical contemplation)

    so? here I am . a New Zealander about to embark on a mission thru South East Asia (2nd time round- this time solo)

    thought I would add a comment and maybe link with some readers who may be in the same area?

    Bangkok 29/11/14- 03/12/14
    Chiang Mai 04//12/14- 08/12/14
    Pai 08/12/14-12 or 13/1214
    Then maybe further north mae hon son? or chiang rai?
    back to Chiang Mai around 17/12/14
    20/12/14-27/12/14 phnom penh
    28/12/14-02/01/15 koh rong
    back to phnom penh till 04/01/15
    Ho Chi Minh City 04/01/15-11/01/15

    get @ me
    three0ninesmedia@gmail.com

  12. Brooks says:

    I’ve traveled to so many places alone (U.S. And abroad) that sometimes I like traveling alone rather than with someone. Simply because I know a few hours after I arrive there will be new faces to meet, from different cultures. Makes the travel very lively for me.

    Even local travel in my area I find friends, family simply are not interested in going to because it pulls them away from their familiar. So, I’m willing to go places alone because I know other people who are at the same place have the same agenda as I do, to see some place, to learn something new.

    Example: next week I have planned a day long hike in the mountains. No one is interested in going. So, it’s O Solo Mio for me. Not afraid as there are other people there and they are hiking to see God’s creation rather than stay inside.

    Earl: I’m glad you brought up this topic.

  13. Steve says:

    I’m 62 and have not traveled much outside the U.S. This Sunday, Oct 5, I leave for the Philippines for two weeks and then Thailand for one week, alone. I feel anxiety. Last month, as a shakedown, I went to the Dominican Republic for a week. Out of the country, but close enough. The DR worked out fine. The Philippines and Thailand are different. They are very far away. And three weeks? I am nervous.

    The tickets are paid for. Plans are set. I will do the trip and feel nervous about doing it I suppose. I’ve been talking about checking out this area of the world for years. Looks like the time is now. Good thing I have some Xanax.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Steve – Let us know how it goes once you’re back, and I’m sure you’re going to have plenty of positive experiences to talk about!

    • Steve,
      I am almost 65 and have been traveling the world since my early twenties. In between, I married for 36 years, traveled and had three wonderful sons, who all travel now. My wife and I are no longer together, as she did not want to keep traveling.

      This year I have seven countries in Europe, five countries in SE Asia and a couple of countries in South America scheduled. I am also walking the Camino Frances. I am not getting any younger and there is so much left to see in this beautiful world. Have no fear, Thailand and the Philippines are bothering great places. You will have a blast!
      Mike

  14. Catherine says:

    Thank you for this. I laugh as it is all soo true. I am surfing the net avoiding my hearts desire and to get over to the travel agent to book my trip to India…alone. I don’t know why I fight it, I know its going to happen, just do it and move on to figuring out details.
    Thanks again!
    Catherine

    • Noelle says:

      Im sitting in a cafe in Mexico this evening, feeling anything but alone. At 42 part of me sometimes tries to convince my self that I should leave these adventures to the younger crowd… but No way!
      I meet people everywhere I go. Sometimes I go to a community center or connect with a non profit ,and sometimes, like this, I find a cafe with Wi-Fi, where you are bound to meet other travelers. I pick small, friendly towns and just take it slow.
      Don’t fight it, live it!!
      Life is a beautiful adventure, or a scenic walk of new experiences – whatever you want it to be… go book that flight! And have a great journey!

  15. Andraž says:

    great reading :) lifts spirit as Im also going to thailand for my 1st solo trip… 29th October untill 18th December. me and my wakeboard

    Plan:
    Bangkok (6 nights)
    Ko Phangan (5 nights)
    Ko Tao (6 nights)
    Phuket (1 month)
    Abu Dhabi (2 nights)

    If any1 is also traveling and wants to grab a beer or something: andraz.hudomalj@gmail.com

  16. Danelle says:

    Wow! Super relate! I’m also planning on going alone in Thailand this December and was actually starting to save on a college budget. I also asked some of my friends, one of my friends said yes but unfortunately she can’t travel by december because she still needed to fix her passport. Than I asked a travel agency if I could travel alone and they said that travelling alone is more expensive and the immigration might hold me because i’m still young. I also thought that too since I’m too small for my age so I guess I have to postpone it. And then i came across your post and feel inspired. I might not go in december as planned but maybe in time, maybe before I turn 19. *fingers crossed* so thank you for writing this post. I didn’t thought that someone could EXACTLY relate to my situation right now. I’m starting to think you’re a psychic. Hahaha. Joke. God bless!

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