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

  1. Pingback: Please Don’t Be Afraid To Travel On Your Own – Wandering Earl | SweetWildLena

  2. Lauren says:

    Hey Kayla!
    I’ve just come back from travelling Australia and New Zealand for 4 months on my own. I was so excited until it got closer to the date I was leaving and like you, was so nervous about venturing into the unknown all alone I almost considered cancelling my flights! When I was on the way to the airport and saw the sign for Heathrow I was literally shaking from the nerves! What my mum told me really helped with my nerves when I was worried.. and that’s that if it’s really that bad when you’re away and you decide after a while that travelling really isn’t for you then guess what… you can just get a flight back home :) at least you’ll know that you tried and you’ll never look back with regret thinking I wish I’d have done that. I can honestly say it’s the best thing I ever done and had the most brilliant time! So much so that I am now saving to travel Asia and then go back to Australia on a work visa. Of course I was a bag of nerves on the way there, convincing myself I wouldn’t meet anyone but I was never really alone from the moment I arrived. And when I did have the odd day alone it was actually quite nice to just chill out. Traveling really does change you for the better. You become so much more confident and self assured. Just remember that nerves are perfectly normal and have an amazing trip!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Lauren – That is so great to hear and I guess for your next trip, you won’t be dealing with those nerves any more! That confidence you have gained will never disappear!

  3. Jessica says:

    So, you may want to look into an organization called WWOOFING, the acronym stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is an exchange program that’s offered in tons of countries. You need little money and I am positive it will give you the experience you are looking for. To sum it up, you volunteer on an Organic farm between 20-25hrs a week (typically M-F 5hrs a day and weekends off). In exchange for your labor, the farm owners give you a place to stay, food, and the true experience of the culture. I did this in Spain for 3 months and LOVED it. My intentions were similar to yours, I left a finance job in order to pursue a more simple, less chaotic life. Another motivating factor was to learn Spanish. The great thing is, you select the type of farm you want to go to and you can stay anywhere between a week to a year depending on what they are looking for. I spent money only in between traveling to different farms and of course on sight seeing and tourism. Hope that helps!

  4. D says:

    Hi Earl,

    I want to be like you, I want to leave the UK and travel the world, literally.

    I will be doing this on my own and have no money or savings as of yet.

    I intend to save up around 2-3000 pounds to be able to get me going but I am wishing to live off the land and go back to the roots and essence of being a human being.

    I dont know where to start or what to take with me but I cannot take the bull*** stress of inner city life. What do you suggest?

    PEACE

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey D – Just have a read through the blog as that’s what it’s here for, to help others figure out how to achieve their travel goals!

  5. Kayla says:

    Hey!
    Wow this site made me feel so much better! I’m 19 years old and moving to australia for a year. It’s my first trip alone EVER, I haven’t even been somewhere out of Canada without my parents. I one day just booked a flight, got a visa and called it a day. Only a few more months now and I’ll be boarding a plane, to a place where I don’t know a single soul. I’m so excited but I’m so nervous to the point i feel as if I should cancel… I don’t have any real reason as to why I’m going. I’m just.. Going. However I do feel it will be good for my soul and a great experience. Am I making the right choice??? Please help!

  6. vinny says:

    Hey there!

    Great post man … so glad i found this from a simple google search…my stuation is similar to what happened to you. However, our destinations are different. I live in London, England. My friend has decided to drop out of the idea of travelling with me to california, due to his other priorities in life. Of which i undoubtedly respect his decision to do so. But i really want to go california..and do the epic road trip of travelling from san francisco to LA. I want to see the landscape and sights that california has to offer…and i feel that this kind of activity must be taken with a group of friends…me travelling by myself to a place like this and doing road trip type activities and even enjoying the nightlife is not something one usually endulges in on ones own. Thats just me opinion…it seems a little weird. But i’m here hoping you would help me change my mind and maybe offer your expertise in world travel.
    Thanks

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Vinny – Well, I’ll say this…if you travel to LA, stay at one of the more popular hostels in the city, I’m sure you’ll find other travelers who would love to join you for that road trip. Most people want to take on that adventure and I would be very surprised if you didn’t find anyone to share it with! Either way, there are new people to meet everywhere you go, so even if you begin alone, you’ll be meeting people in every town – Santa Barbara, Monterey, Santa Cruz, etc. – along the way!

  7. Rob says:

    HiEarl,

    Great site. I have just stumbled on it from a google search and I’m so glad I did. I was meant to be flying to Cancun Mexico for a 2 weeks with my girlfriend but we have now split up. I only have a flight, no accommodation and the trip is in 3 weeks. I was thinking of cancelling but after finding your site I feel like I should venture out solo and explore. I’m a bit apprehensive but seems like a wasted opportunity if I don’t go. Can you point me in the direction of some good sites to read up on given my short timeframe. Also any advice from you travels would be great. Keep up the good work. Wish me luck!!

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Rob – You should definitely go, you’ll have a great time down there. What kind of advice are you looking for exactly? If you have any specific questions, send them my way and I’d be more than happy to answer.

  8. PS says:

    Thank you for your post. I’m leaving for my first solo trip this week and as the days get closer, my anxiety level has increased. I can’t sleep right now since I’m so caught up in my own fearful thoughts! But I realize they’re just thoughts and I’ll hopefully be fine. Great post to help people reduce anxiety.

  9. Rob says:

    This is spot on to how planning my trip is right now. T-minus 2 months, and it seems like i’m staying up later each night reading and researching.

    Thanks for the post!

  10. kat says:

    Hi guys,
    I almost today booked for Thailand for a month in November to travel on my own and panicked.
    I feel I need to do this, I have had very bad health in the last four years and found myself completely reliant on people. Now I am on full form and I need the courage to do this. For me to learn again how to trust in myself. I am 24 and now after a broken relationship and living on my own I believe it us the perfect time.
    Sorry about all the babbling. . My family are very against this idea
    Kat

    • Matthew Cheyne says:

      This is awesome to read Kat. More power to you. I too am a solo traveler with many health problems. Sometimes we just need to do the things that empower us and make us feel better. To hell with what others, family included may think.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Kat – If you truly want to take that trip then you owe it to yourself to book it!

      • Matthew Cheyne says:

        You’re right Earl. Kat just needs to do it and go ahead and make that booking and put herself beyond the point of no return as far as solo travel is concerned. That’s what I did back in 2001 when I bought my ticket to Sydney, the first of many solo traveler trips there. It’s scary at first, there is a lot of fear and trepidation but it is so so worthwhile in the end.

  11. alicia-joy says:

    I couldn’t agree more that travel alone rocks! Yes, it can be intimidating at first, especially for us ladies. But you just have to start. Like anything, you get more comfortable with it the more you do it. I meet so many interesting people when I travel alone. I also think it has helped me to grow. When you travel alone, you have to think & make decisions on your own. It will test your resilience, your patience, and your faith in yourself. It is a powerful life experience. Always be aware of your surroundings, follow your instincts, stay smart, and have a blast!!!!

  12. pheobe says:

    Hi Morgan, I am travelling solo to thailand in August. I’m 21 and this is my first time travelling alone. I am more excited than nervous but i’m sure as the date gets closer I will be very afaid. I am glad to hear I am not the only female solo traveller

    • Gina says:

      Hey Pheobe,
      I’m travelling to Thailand in July/August too! Pretty anxious too, not going to lie! I’m just making sure i’ve read up on everything and all the crazy things i want to do! Hope you have an awesome time!

      • Nadia says:

        I’m also 21 and thinking about travelling solo to Thailand in August! I am so confused though because all my friends (including one who has travelled in SEA with a group of people she met on a volunteering trip whilst out there) keep saying how I shouldn’t do it alone and that it will be too dangerous and I’ll get lost…the list goes on. Still, it is very encouraging to read posts like this, but can’t help thinking why they’re trying to put me off going solo?

  13. Morgan says:

    Hi there

    I am 22 years old and i would love to travel to Thailand and then onto Europe but i am scared to go alone as i am a young girl and many people have said not to go alone. What would you recommend?

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Morgan – It’s your decision in the end but all I can say is that there are plenty of solo female travelers out there of all ages who I’m sure would tell you that traveling on your own to Thailand is not a problem at all. Just have a look through my “Links” page and you’ll find plenty of travel blogs written by solo female travelers out there exploring the world.

    • Kristen says:

      I went alone to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia when I was 24, and it was AWESOME. SE Asia is a very good place to go alone, because there are a lot of other solo travelers there too, and they’re usually glad to join up with you. I had the choice to be alone, but it was also easy to meet people to travel with, just by staying in a hostel dorm. I never really felt unsafe. I would say definitely go, you’ll have a great time!

  14. Wesley says:

    Dear Earl,

    Your article persuaded me to go travelling alone. I was wondering, which country in Europe / North-Africa have very open people and would you recommend me travelling to. I ask this because I’m a little affraid I end up not talking to anybody (I’m very socially, if a conversation has started though).

    Thanks

    Wesley

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Wesley – I don’t think you’ll find much of a difference wherever you go as it will all be up to you in terms of communicating with other people. There are open, friendly people everywhere but usually, you need to initiate some kind of conversation. Luckily, you can go to couchsurfing.org and instead of using this service to find sofas to sleep on, there are plenty of locals that just want to meet up for a coffee/beer/meal. This is a great way to connect with locals right away, wherever you go.

  15. Lorraine Sonney says:

    Hi Earl,
    I am planning on travelling to Playa del Carmen. Reason for choosing this location is from stumbling onto you site. I wanted mexico. I have been there once for a week in an all exclusive paid for by my boss. What a beautiful place.
    I think I am having a midlife crisis, a very serious one where I need to get away for a month or longer before I have to figure what ever it is I am going to do. I am turning 55 Feb 1st. Still look young and feel young at heart. I always wished I had of traveled when I was younger and had no ties…
    I never did. Well why the heck not now before I get any older and find myself wishing years down the road that I had of done this.
    I am a little scared but really think I can handle it. Planning on selling my car and putting everything else in storage. I am very out going which I think is good…
    I found your site so helpful about living abroad for under $1000 per month. I have really enjoyed a lot of the information shared period. I have to say thanks because more than likely if not for your site I may not be making this decision.
    Thank you for all the information and all you said about Playa del Carmen.
    Wish me luck! Any helpful last minute hints??
    Thanks Earl,
    Kind regards,
    Lorraine Sonney.

    • Wandering Earl says:

      Hey Lorraine – I think Playa might be the ideal place to just relax and figure things out. You’ll meet plenty of people, have access to beautiful beaches, great food and plenty of interesting destinations all over the area. It’s natural to be scared but usually, shortly after you arrive, those fears quickly disappear!

  16. Traveling alone is the coolest thing I’ve ever started doing in my life! It’s nothing more than a freedom of choice, no hurry and being where you are and when you want. Friends always ask me if I don’t feel lonely traveling alone. No, I don’t. Traveling alone doesn’t mean being alone 24/7. We still meet people on the way and make friendships.

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