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Travelling is always a worthy pursuit, even more so when you do it alone. Yes, alone. It’s just as memorable and fun as going on a trip with your family or friends. The only reason why some people don’t do it is because they’re scared.
What if you get lost and can’t communicate with anyone? What if something happens to you? What if you can’t handle it? So many what-if scenarios will hinder you, but what you have to know is that the rewards far outweigh the fears you might have of travelling alone.
Here are a few ways to overcome those solo travel fears so you can finally embark on that trip you’ve been dreaming of!
01 Focus on the positives
The beauty with travelling alone is that you don’t have to compromise with anyone! You can do whatever you want in your preferred time and pace — indulging yourself with your hobbies and interests without being at the mercy of someone else. Not only that, but travelling alone also provides you an opportunity to finetune important life skills like navigating, haggling, communicating, and problem-solving.
02 Start local
Travelling isn’t always about flying to another continent; sometimes, it can just be about taking a trip to a different town, a province, or even a city! Exploring a place 50 miles away is just as adventure-filled as a country 5,000 miles away from home.
Starting local is a good way to acclimatize yourself with travelling solo. Think of it as training wheels — a local place isn’t nearly as overwhelming, and it gives you a sort of stability that comes with knowing the language, currency, and customs of the place. With this experience, you can soon balance on your own two wheels and grow more confident to explore further away.
03 Study and plan ahead
Studying and planning your itinerary will give you a sense of control and comfort. Navigating blind isn’t really that much fun at all, especially when you’re spending too much time feeling lost and overwhelmed instead of having fun.
Research the place you want to go and the activities you can do there. Take the information you collated and craft yourself the best trip based on your preferences — just remember to not over-plan and have some wiggle room in case you get exhausted and need a space to breathe in-between your activity-filled trip.
04 Be smart about your valuables
Losing your belongings is a constant fear, travelling or not. Do some precautions to ease your mind during the trip — google what to do with lost luggages to be prepared, carry a dummy wallet or insure your things so in the event that someone tries to rob you, you’re not too worried about it.
Being smart about your valuables means being smart about your money, as well. Remember that sometimes, keeping a tight budget and denying yourself of some things aren’t worth the stress. Shell out money for a taxi if you’re anxious about walking alone in a questionable area. Book a hotel or an Airbnb instead of staying in a hostel if it makes you uncomfortable.
05 Have a little more trust
Some people aren’t keen on travelling alone because they are either afraid to be seen alone or they don’t want to deal with things alone. But the truth is, you’re never actually alone when you travel. There are other solo travellers out there in the same boat as you. Sometimes, you’ll even encounter people who will approach you and strike a conversation with you, saving you from doing it yourself. Sure, being wary towards strangers is common, but keep in mind that befriending fellow solo travellers definitely makes for a worthwhile trip.
06 Give yourself some slack
The thing is, not everything will go right when you travel. As much as you want your trip to be perfect, there will be times that things will not go as smoothly or exactly as you planned. Give yourself some slack and stop obsessing so much you end up pressuring yourself!
And if you feel like you have bitten off more than you can chew and decide that solo travelling isn’t for you, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. There’s no shame in cutting your trip short — it doesn’t mean you’re a failure or a coward. Take comfort in the fact that you at least tried and that, in itself, is already an accomplishment!
Ritchel Mendiola is a feature writer based in the Philippines. In addition to writing for Balikbayan Magazine, she is a news correspondent for Asian Journal News-Manila.