Solo travel is a right of passage for many world wanderers. Traveling alone will teach you how to take care of yourself, manage your time, navigate independently and speak to people from all walks of life. It’s also a great way to develop a strong sense of self confidence and a taste for what truly brings you happiness.
But before you can reach this sense of serenity there are inevitably pre-trip concerns and anxieties that lurk in our minds, undermining the excitement and reminding us of all the variables that could lead to issues abroad. While it’s important to acknowledge that little anxious voice inside, it’s crucial not to let it deter you from the plans you’ve made. It’s great to address concerns ahead of time and figure out how to solve problems before they occur, but part of travelling is that you can’t foresee every issue that may arise, and that’s okay.
Take the time to answer these questions for yourself before you go, and find security in knowing that you’re not the only one who feels this way before travelling solo. Thousands of travellers before you and plenty more to come share these apprehensions but they, like you, find a way through and come out the other side better for it.
25 Only The Lonely: What If That’s Me?
What if I get lonely? This is a primary concern for solo travellers, particularly those who enjoy being social or have a very close network of friends and family at home with whom they spend a lot of time.
The misconception about solo travel is that you’re going to be spending the entire time by yourself. While you’re certainly going to have periods of time where you go out alone, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with people and make friends on group tours, at hostels or local events. When you are alone, don’t dwell on that fact - try to enjoy the time with yourself that we so seldom get in our busy day to day lives and use it to learn more about what brings you inner happiness.
24 Isolation: How Will I Carry All My Belongings?
The answer to this one is simple: pack only what you can carry easily. If you’re travelling solo the best thing to do is plan to only carry on and have no checked piece of baggage. This way you force yourself to pack only the bare essentials and ensure that you’ll be capable of carrying them yourself if you have to walk a fair distance at any point on your travels.
This minimalist lifestyle is good practice for long journeys regardless of whether or not you’re travelling alone because lugging the extra weight around is never good for your body.
23 The Long And Winding Road: Is It Safe?
Will I be safe travelling alone? This concern might be echoed by all the people in your life who love you and mean well but are actually starting to scare you by wondering so frequently about whether you’ll be okay alone, abroad.
Of course there are certain destinations that are considered safer than others and you should always do your research before you travel on what vaccines or medications may be necessary to protect you when you’re in certain countries. As well, knowing which cities have a lot of scams that take advantage of tourists can help you stay alert. Along with the research, you just have to be smart. Try to avoid walking alone at night, make sure the lock on your door works as soon as you arrive and know the emergency contact phone numbers for the country you’re in so you have easy access to them should trouble arise. Exercising good judgement along with being well informed is the safest way to travel.
22 Foolish Heart: Can I Date While On The Road?
If you’re travelling solo for a long period of time, chances are you don’t have a significant other waiting for you back home. Are you hoping to find romance somewhere along the way?
Serious dating as a solo traveller may prove difficult due to the nomadic lifestyle and the high probability that the paths of you and whoever you’re seeing will not always be one and the same. While it’s totally possible you could meet someone who sets your soul on fire and wants to journey with you, it’s not something you should count on. Many travellers are open to brief relationships while in the same city and you might even keep in touch, but the chances of it being long term are slim. Set realistic expectations for your love life as you travel to avoid being letdown.
You can also look into apps for single travellers like Miss Travel or Tourbar to help you get connected with others who are looking for the same relationships.
21 With Or Without You: What If I Lose Touch With Loved Ones Back Home?
When you get caught up in your travels it can be easy to lose touch with your friends and family back at home. Depending on the time difference between your locations it might be hard to coordinate Skype chats and as you gain your self confidence and independence through travelling, you may begin to feel distant from loved ones.
Try to stay connected through social media updates, sending messages via Wifi to your family to update them on your arrivals and departures or even just your daily activities. Request that they also share photos of their daily lives and keep you in the loop to maintain a relationship that goes both ways.
20 Empty Streets: What If I Really Dislike A Destination?
It’s completely possible that of all the places you go, you may end up in one you really dislike. While never an ideal situation to find yourself in, it will inevitably happen at some point. It might be the food, the cleanliness of the city or your accommodations that turns you off, or perhaps a negative interaction with the local people. Whatever the case, you’ve booked your time here so now you’ll have to find a way to sail through.
Many cities have hidden gems and there is a very different energy in different regions. If you find you really dislike one part of a city, consider seeking out an alternative area that can help you feel like you’ve actually come to a new place. You can try finding alternate accommodations or even see if you can book a cheap flight ASAP to another location of your choosing.
19 Lonely Avenue: What If I Am Targeted By Scammers?
In many cities frequented by tourists, the possibility of falling victim to a scam is definitely a reason to be worried. It might be obvious, like someone asking you to buy a useless item for an obscene price, or it might be subtle like being tricked into purchasing something for a local who appears to be in need but is actually using tourists to make their living.
Read up on the cities you’re visiting before you go and try to find out what to be on the lookout for. It’s always good to exercise caution, particularly in busy public spaces like a market. Do not appear uncertain of your whereabouts or take too many selfies as this will immediately make you stand out as a tourist and therefore make you an easy target.
18 Dancing With Myself: Will I Get Bored?
Do you find yourself boring? Hopefully you answered no, in which case travelling alone will definitely not be boring either. The greatest thing about this solo experience is that it’s 100% catered to what you want to do!
It should be the least bored you’ve ever been. You see whatever sites you want, go on tours or excursions whenever you want and eat whatever you want! You determine your own schedule, your own plans and your own travel destinations. As long as you plan well, there’s really no room for boredom!
17 Solo: Am I Prepared To Take Care Of Myself?
Solo travel means relying on no one but yourself and this can definitely seem daunting the first, second or even third time around. You have to be responsible for getting yourself to the airport on time, finding your accommodations, managing your finances and making decisions that will solely impact you.
Additionally, in case you become sick while abroad you will not have a fellow traveller taking care of you and this can be frightening as well. In order to prepare for these circumstances, bring with you small amounts of medications you may need (in their marked bottles) and plan in advance whenever possible.
16 All By Myself: Can I Venture Off The Beaten Path Solo?
Can I still go trekking? Rock climbing? Bungee jumping? It makes sense to worry about whether or not these adrenaline inducing activities are safe when you go solo, but the fact of the matter is that even if you’re travelling alone, you don’t actually have to be alone the whole time.
There are plenty of group tour options for activities in almost any city around the world and by hopping on with a guided group you eliminate the element of concern for your safety as a solo traveller, while simultaneously making new connections.
15 Paradise Lost: What If I Actually Get Lost?
It can be daunting arriving in a new place all by yourself for the first time, particularly in a big city like New York or Athens. It’s natural to be concerned about whether or not you might have trouble navigating your way around but there are a few things you can do to get ahead of the situation!
Downloading google maps or an app like Maps.me to your phone can allow you to access a city’s map even when you’re offline, which can be super useful for getting to your hostel from the airport without using cell data. Do your research before departure and see what the most reliable and affordable form of transportation will be to your accommodations and write down the information in a safe place that you’ll be able to access easily upon arrival. Sometimes, arranging a pickup from a host or owner of a hostel can take all the stress of reading the map right off your shoulders.
If you do get lost, don’t panic. Always have the address you’re staying at on hand so that locals or other tourists can help direct you, but if you have your offline map, you should always be able to punch in the address and let it guide you home.
14 The Fear Of Being Alone: Will I Make Friends?
Introverts and extroverts alike may worry about whether or not they’ll be well liked in another country and how easy it will be to connect with fellow travellers. Luckily the answer is that it’s very easy.
Many people staying in hostel dorms are solo travelling as well, and much like you, they’re not interested in spending 100% of their time alone. Most people will be happy to chat and grab a bite to eat or go out for a drink with you, particularly if you are open, smile often and try to get to know them.
13 Really Don’t Care: What If I Become Anti-Social?
No, travelling alone will not turn you into an anti-social hermit. If anything it might have the opposite effect - you’ll be forced to speak with many different people on a daily basis, be it hostel staff, flight attendants, dorm mates or your tour guide. You will learn how to navigate various social settings with grace, and soon speaking to a random stranger will seem like a normal occurrence when it once might’ve been cause for social anxiety.
You might find that you become less dependent on social interaction and more reliant on your sense of self and happiness which can be a very healthy thing, but it certainly won’t mean that you despise or fear seeing other people.
12 Another Lonely Night: How Can I Enjoy Going Out On My Own?
It might not seem like going out to explore the cities on your own could possibly be as much fun as travelling with a significant other or best friend, and while they offer companionship, exploring a new destination on your own will bring with it many opportunities you might not get when travelling as a couple.
You won’t have to compromise on the food you prefer or the types of attractions or areas of the city you might be interested in. You’ll also be able to meet more people because it’s a lot easier for someone to approach a solo traveller and ask them to join for a meal or a drink than it is to approach an already established coupling or group.
11 Survivor: Will I Stick Out As A Tourist?
As mentioned above, there are a few sure fire habits that will get you flagged as a tourist in a matter of seconds, but if you’re smart about it you can definitely find ways to blend into the crowds and seem like one of the locals.
Research the culture and dress code ahead of time. If you’re visiting a conservative country don’t strut around in cut off denim shorts, but rather pack suitable outfits to blend in. Perhaps tone down the size of your dramatic sun hat, put the camera away unless you really need to use it and (seriously), do not walk around with your nose down in a map. Walking with confidence makes all the difference in how you and your knowledge of the destination will be perceived.
10 Left Alone: Will My Valuables Be Safe?
It’s common to be worried about what you’ll do with your valuables while you’re away on your own. It’s not like you can consult with a partner about the safest option and now it’s just your stuff on the line.
It’s best to leave your passport in a safe in your room if that’s available, and always try to check if your hostel or airbnb gives you access to a safe or locker before booking. Most will, but some hostels will not offer a locker and in this situation it can be very stressful when you’re forced to hide your valuables elsewhere in the room. An easy way to limit this stress is by reducing the number of valuables you bring with you. Your passport is a given, as well as your camera but outside of that and your cash, you shouldn’t need to bring anything else of great value.
9 Girls Just Want To Have Fun: Will It Be Safe To Go Out After Dark?
While any traveller should be extra wary after night fall, this one particularly applies to women. We constantly plan our lives around daylight hours and when it’s safe for us to go out on our own. The unfortunate reality is that in many cities around the world, it is not safe to be out alone after dark.
If you’re exploring Reykjavik you might indeed be alright but if you’re in Cape Town, that’s another story. Always research your destination and check government advisory websites for leads on potential safety threats occurring there. Use good judgement and when possible, do not walk alone at night. Make a friend at your hostel to walk with or take a cab home if that is an available option.
8 Can’t Sleep: Will My Finances Hold Up?
This one’s all you - you’re making the decisions about where you eat, sleep and how you spend your days. This makes perfect sense since you’re also the one managing your bank account. Now, maybe you left your day job to travel full time on a whim or maybe you still have an income as you live the dream while working remotely.
Whatever your situation, it’s crucial to be aware of how much money you have coming in at any given time and how much you’re spending. Best is to create a budget prior to departure that dictates the amount you have saved and how you’ll be breaking that down for each leg of the trip to make it last until you get home. If you are pinched for cash on the road, you can always consider working at a hostel in exchange for accommodation or other forms of local work like that.
7 Late Night Alumni: What If I Outgrow My Life Back Home?
While you’re travelling solo there’s going to be some soul searching that takes place. You will spend time with yourself like you never have before and it will become obvious what things are most important to you and which items, people or experiences need to fall away from your life.
As this transformation manifests, it’s entirely possible that you’ll return home to find that your previous way of life no longer satisfies you. You may find your desk job unbearable compared to the fast pace of nomadic life, or you may find the food in your little town incredibly bland when brought alongside the memory of night markets abroad. This is normal, and simply allows you to have a different perspective on life and the world. As you begin to see the bigger picture outside the routine of your daily life, you can make small, positive changes that will put you on a path that feels more correct for your new sense of self.
6 Stay With Me: What If I Lose My Travel Documents?
Every traveller's nightmare: losing your travel documents. Even worse when you’re alone, there’s no one to vouch for you or confirm your identity and you’re kind of stuck for cash withdrawal if your cards are lost as well.
The best thing you can do here is carry two cards, and store them separately so if one is taken you still have means to make purchases. If your passport is stolen or lost, the ideal situation would be that you’ve brought a photocopy of the passport so that you can find the nearest embassy of your country and use this as a reference. Bringing a second piece of ID with you is also helpful in such a situation so you're not left without a way to prove your identity.