Bundi, India

Please Don’t Be Afraid To Travel On Your Own

Derek Popular, Travel Tips & Advice 499 Comments

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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http://www.wanderingearl.com/please-dont-be-afraid-to-travel-on-your-own/
Since 1999 I've been traveling and living around the world nonstop. With this blog, my aim is to give you an honest account of this lifestyle - from the brilliant moments to the major challenges - in order to help you achieve your own travel goals.
Personal stories, real advice and useful updates from around the globe. No nonsense.

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Comments 499

  1. Haley Young

    Hey Earl/Derek, my name is Haley Young. I came across your blog post today when I searched ‘traveling alone’. I am currently walking through an unwelcome and unforeseen divorce. I truly desire to travel and to meet and know the people and the different cultures of our world and to share Jesus outside of a mission project. I am pretty introverted and semi-antisocial, so this is extremely forward for me, however, I am wary of traveling alone and felt I should reach out to you upon reading your post. I know it’s a couple of years old and your life is probably very different at this point in time, but I would love any advice or wisdom you may have to share with someone in my current state. I have multiple projects I would love to embark on outside of my home state and country, some circling the realm of sustainable living/farming, and many encircling my deep desire to share the gospel. I would love nothing more than your advice or feedback. Thank’s so much for your time…

    Sincerely,

    Haley Young

    1. Post
      Author
      Derek

      Hey Haley – Thanks for the comment. To be honest, the main thing is to get out there first, to figure out what travel style works best for you, which parts of the world you connect with, etc. It’s difficult to plan projects before you even start traveling because there’s really no way to know how things will go once you will travel, there’s no way to know if you will even enjoy a particular destination until you get there. So the first focus should be on figuring out a way to just go somewhere, to get some travel experience, to get comfortable out there in the world. Once you have that and you feel more confident, you can start looking at moving forward with your projects.

  2. Laura

    Hey all!!! So at the grand age of 47 I want to visit places by myself. I recently lost my job and my whole world has been turned upside down. Now working two jobs and one day I woke up and thought ‘What the hell am I working for’? I have no children, no partner, no mortgage, nothing to tie me down. Life is passing me by…I should be out there doing something instead of just working to eat, run my car, pay bills…what kind of life is that??? What I’d like to know is am I too old for hostel living?? I’m a bit of a loner too so maybe a cheap guest house would be best or maybe I should throw myself in amongst people and just embrace it! Any advice, stories, help would be fantastic.

    1. Empathy

      You can never be too old for doing things that you are passionate about . Forget about your problems and just do it . Stop caring what other people think of you . Life is about feeling good most of the time . We feel good when we do things that we are passionate about . Be friendly and people would be friendly towards you too . Some of the safest countries for lone female traveler that I have visited are Singapore and Japan . I’m sure there are many more countries that are safe for lone travelers .

  3. Lura

    I’m happy I found this blog. I’m happy I’m not alone thinking and feeling all these crazy feels. I’m from Philippines and most people there doesn’t really travel solo. I am currently in the middle of dilemma either travel next year or continue my contract. It’s just I was brought up pleasing and working for everybody. I’m 28 and never felt complete freedom. I needed a solo trip outside the country to know myself and enjoy but I’m freaking hella scared! Reading this shakes my dying inner desire to travel. I hope I’d meet wonderful people. I hope I could make my decision soon to travel in Thailand. Crossfingers to me. Good luck to us all!

  4. Mac

    I don’t find it that easy! Because of the working world I’m used to pretending I know what I’m doing. I find myself marching through hostels like I’m on a mission! Slow down, chill, smile!

    I’ve not found a solution, but I’ve found the best bet is to try and get off the beaten track.. Try and get away from the group backpacker gap year crowd, and find a less trodden way.. Even better, find a hostel without wifi!

    And at the end of it, be yourself! Don’t lie, don’t talk rubbish just because you’re scared! Let your defence down – this isn’t school, people will like you! I’m still crap at meeting people, but I try and be a little better each time. Solo travel is all well and good, but I feel it’s so much better with a friend…

  5. Nathalie Egerton

    I was always terrified of travelling by myself, and the first thing anyone would ever tell me when I told them of my travel plans was that is was unsafe.

    In reality, there weren’t that many risks and I found that as long as you used a bit of common sense, it wasn’t that unsafe. Even as a woman. This article reiterates that it really isn’t unsafe to travel alone, because you aren’t ever really alone anyway!

  6. Helen

    I have travelled solo at least 4 times & found a brilliant priced flight for my airline of choice, pretty much know my dates, know my destination, been wanting to go to one of these festivals for a year and now it comes time to book my flight and I realized I am actually procrastinating booking it…low and behold – it’s fear. First time I have had to google, “scared to travel”. Took a solo trip to Thailand last year leaving 4 days after I booked it and not much fear. Everything worked out well. Interesting to feel it this time. Thanks for sharing these words, beautiful and encouraging:
    “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.
    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

    1. monique

      So nice to hear. Im trying to find a place to travel to now that Im newly single. Im only use to traveling with my partner. I have no idea what I would do on my own

  7. Ru

    I want to travel solo too! I’m just sooooo afraid lol! I plan on traveling first within the States and then maybe i’ll expand internationally.

    1. monique

      Same here, Ive never traveled alone and now that Im newly single I don’t want that to stop me. Im going to try a few states that I haven’t made it to yet first

  8. Mark

    Yes, absolutely agree with this. I made my first international trip back in November to Dubai. After all my friends declined my invitation …. I could not wait any longer and just booked a solo trip. Next thing I knew I was on the plane shaking with excitment. Oddly as soon as I landed I felt totally 100% comfortable. Something about being alone in a whole new world just felt exhilarating, a feeling I can’t put into words. Something everyone should experience.

    I’m off to Qatar in another two weeks… Traveling solo, but never really alone 😀

  9. Kim

    I flew to Japan and spent a month in 2009. After that I became hooked on travel. I am planning to visit Algeria in 2016. I am new as a solo traveler and I have a question. How do you get Visa’s for traveling all over the world? I mean going from one place to the next with the requirements and time it takes to get a Visa. How do you do it?

    Thanks for sharing, I am learning alot.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kim – It’s actually not that difficult. You simply need to look at the visa rules for each country and then plan accordingly. It also depends on your passport as certain countries have an easier time getting visas, or they don’t need visas for many countries, than others.

  10. Chelsea

    I’m so happy I came across this! it definitely inspired me to travel alone. being a young female adult makes me extremely nervous to travel alone but I feel much more confident after reading this. 🙂

  11. Alice

    Thanks for this encouragment, I am going to South Korea on my own at 20 all the way from ireland, I worked hard to save the money and it has been a dream of mine to visit S.Korea since I was 13 years old and I was not waiting any longer for someone to come with me (My mom would have went with me but she would not have the money) so I booked it and I am heading off in February, and it’s all so surreal since it’s something I have wanted for so long but I keep going from being totally excited and thinking I can easily do this on my own to thinking I must be crazy going to the other side of the world on my own, it keeps going back and forth but I know I can do it and I am fulfilling this dream by myself, I have been on a plane on my own before, just from Ireland to Englanf but I had a friend picking me up there and it was only 1-2 hours from home on a plane so it’s totally different so I am real nervous especially since I am only a 20 year old and a female but i will be going and I plan to have a great time, a once and a lifetime trip but it would be nice not to feel this doubt as well lol.

  12. Pingback: Do You Have Enough Confidence to Travel? You Should.

  13. Yvonne

    Thanks for this post! I am setting off in February to travel around South America indefinitely on my own and it is indeed a terrifying sensation, particularly as a female! But I know it’s something that I just have to do, and it’s great to be reminded that I won’t be alone a lot of the time.

    1. Lucía

      Hi! I am from Uruguay (South America). If you will visit my country i can give you some advice. I can tell you tan we hace the most beautiful beech and cost. Also Uruguay is really a safe place.

  14. ennarr

    I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog today. I am a petite girl from asia, i really wanted to travel alone this December but I am very nervous. I have traveled alot but never alone but I have decided to travel alone two weeks ago because of personal reason to Australia most probably for a month.

  15. Brock (Edges Of Earth)

    Traveling alone, for me, is definitely not a fear. In fact, I would rather travel alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love people. I guess I want to stay away from the Western personality for a while. Get away from that mentality for a while. I really want to embark on different cultures and experience them to their fullest, by myself, with no other influences. Who knows, maybe I am just strange lol. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    1. Alexis

      Oooo,no, not strange at all. 🙂
      I wanna start traveling myself, and maybe find a job in Austria. And also maybe travel to Argentina, Thailand, and “them” other places. XD I’m kind of scared of going alone, but I’ll most likely force myself to get out the U.S. anyway because I wanna get away from the culture myself. 🙂

  16. Marlena

    Wow! I’m so happy I found your website, Earl. I’m one of those people who would like to travel but is too afraid.
    I plan to make a trip to London as I always wanted to go there. But it takes time to get into the mindset of traveling alone. I was robed few times and would do anything to avoid this.
    but your articles inspire me a lot.
    thank you!

    1. Mimi

      Just go for it Rebecca! I am now preparing for a solo 7 day Kilimanjaro climb in December and a 3 day extension to the beautiful Zanzibar island all by myself, I can assure you that by the time I come back I would have met amazing authentic souls, believe me the feeling gets stuck for a long time, what can I say, it like I’m literally obsessed with have no boundaries and limitation. My boyfriend has also joined the solo travel world. When we share our individual travel stories, it feels out of this world. Remember fear is deadly and is the opposite of love. Love your solo travels!!!

  17. Mimi

    My last solo travel, I went to Victoria Falls in Zambia & Zimbabwe. I am literally enjoying travelling alone at times, I get to have a lifetime experience as I become more aware of my surroundings and this allows me to connect easily with people. It’s scary at first but once you start you never stop!

  18. Ted

    I normally travel alone and find it no problem, but then I may be an odd one out. If you do travel with someone or a few people there comes the time when one simple hold up means missing a train, bus or even flight and that can get very expensive.

    Choose your travelling companion carefully. Best friends usually have no real troubles, it’s when you link up with those you barely know that stuff can go wonky – but not always

    As you mention, fear can be a factor and finding someone who’s going to the same place, on the same flight sure helps out.

    I grew up travelling so it doesn’t bother me, but others of you it probably will, especially on your first few trips. You do get used to it though. It’ll help you grow and learn that you really can do something out of your comfort zone. Then the adventure starts….

    PS: the comments keep timing out Earl

  19. Ted

    I normally travel alone and find it no problem, but then I may be an odd one out. If you do travel with someone or a few people there comes the time when one simple hold up means missing a train, bus or even flight and that can get very expensive.

    Choose your travelling companion carefully. Best friends usually have no real troubles, it’s when you link up with those you barely know that stuff can go wonky – but not always

    As you mention, fear can be a factor and finding someone who’s going to the same place, on the same flight sure helps out.

    I grew up travelling so it doesn’t bother me, but others of you it probably will, especially on your first few trips. You do get used to it though. It’ll help you grow and learn that you really can do something out of your comfort zone. Then the adventure starts….

  20. Giusi

    Yes but don’t forget you are a guy… as a woman I traveled solo and enjoyed it but I am kinda leery of traveling to certain countries…Still wanna do it though. Maybe I should dress as a man? 😉

    1. Alexis

      It’s not just women, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s good to know about safety issues, but don’t let the bombard you from your experience. Buen viaje (bon voyage) but I’m not a native Spanish person, I’m American. 🙂

  21. Jazz

    I’m heading off for my first-ever solo trip to Italy tomorrow… I am a mix of nerves and excitement and uncertainty. I know it’s not going to be anything like I imagine (how would I know if I’ve never been there?) and I’m scared of being too optimistic. I’m using Air bnb as accommodation as I find hostels scary. I don’t mind being by myself but at the same time I enjoy the company of others and can get lonely. The problem is that I have zero confidence in my own social skills and I always just assume people don’t like me, I can be awkward. I don’t want to travel and be alone, not out of choice. I don’t want to go and just end up feeling left out and socially inadequate. I want to gain confidence and just be myself. I’m sick of this social anxiety.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jazz – Just get out there, enjoy the trip and let us know how it goes! I’m confident it’s going to be much different than you imagine in terms of socializing.

    2. Marie

      Hi Jazz,

      I feel exactly the same!! Well done for booking it though and just going for it! I certainly haven’t plucked up the courage to. I would be interested to know how your travels go 🙂

      Marie x

  22. Pingback: Why I Prefer Solo Travel (And Probably Always Will)

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