The more I talk to people about solo travel, the more clear it becomes to me that the biggest obstacle is fear of the unknown. The most common excuses for not taking the plunge? It’s too dangerous or too expensive.
When I ask why someone thinks that, I’m met with responses as thin as “that’s what I’ve heard.” As someone who’s experienced plenty of solo trips firsthand, and had a great time on every one, I can confidently tell you it’s not too dangerous or expensive. I’m not talking about buying a one-way ticket to Syria here. And there are tons of ways to travel alone without paying a single supplement charge.
There are tons of options you can tailor to your interests, comfort level, and budget — whether you want to go international or domestic. Websites like Hipmunk, Lonely Planet, and Kayak are great channels to start searching for deals. It also helps to read blogs and articles from solo travel pros. Nomadic Matt, The Blonde Abroad and The Young Adventuress are some of my favorites.
Here are a few ways to get warmed up to the idea of solo travel before making a single commitment. Trust me — once your excitement starts to build, your focus will shift from making excuses to finding solutions.
1. Start small.
If you’ve never been abroad, then plan your first solo trip closer to home. Take a weekend to explore a nearby town or fly to a neighboring state. Instead of flying half-way around the globe to China, start with San Francisco first. This is a good way to learn the ropes before you travel without a safety net.
2. Do your research!
The best way to get excited about a trip is to start planning it. Once you figure out where you want to go, look up accommodations, activities, local recommendations, mouthwatering meals, and the best coffee in town. As your anticipation grows, fear has less space to occupy.
3. Make it easy for yourself.
If you’re nervous, don’t choose a place that requires tourist visas, vaccinations, and new languages the first time out of the gate. You don’t have to go big or go home. Go for a place that’s somewhere between familiar and exotic.
4. Ask for help.
Ask friends and family who travel a lot for advice. If you don’t have people like this handy, there are tons of travel sites that can serve the same purpose. Ask questions, contact the site contributors or admins, and get involved.
5. If all else fails, it might be time to buy a ticket.
If you’ve tried these other methods and still can’t get over your fear, it’s worth considering a drastic step. You may need a push, or you’ll keep putting it off indefinitely. Once you buy your ticket, you have no choice but to start getting ready and planning your trip. But don’t panic.
You just purchased an adventure that will open your mind and heart and lead to deeper growth than you can imagine. And I promise — it’s gonna be fun.