Do you dream of taking a solo trip, but your fears are getting the better of you? Or do you secretly wonder if that travel style is only suitable for outgoing extroverts? Don’t worry, we got your back. Those fears are normal, yet they shouldn’t stop you from taking the trip of your dreams. I have done a lot of solo travel as an introvert. However, it was something I gradually grew into, so I never really had to face that one big leap to go from zero to solo travel. Luckily, my friend Elle from Travelling Wallflower has, and she agreed to write a post about it in which she explains how she overcame those fears to successfully master her first solo trip as an introvert traveller!
First Solo Trip – Fears and Apprehensions
As an introvert, I’ve always felt very comfortable being on my own. So when I was planning my first solo trip, I couldn’t wait to be out there with all the flexibility of exploring on my own terms. Thinking back, maybe I should have started with a simple trip somewhere close to my hometown or where they at least speak the same language. But that’s not my style. I have a tendency of putting myself in situations that make me wonder “But, why???!!!”. And that’s exactly what I thought when I eventually realized I’d be on my own halfway around the globe.
If you’re in the middle of planning your first solo trip and you’re finding the whole thing a little daunting, I’m here to tell you that what you’re feeling is absolutely normal! Buying a beautiful Lonely Planet guide or filling your Pinterest boards with amazing bucket list items is the easy part. I kept picturing myself walking through night markets in Southeast Asia, hiking to waterfalls and laying out on white sandy beaches. All the while, I had forgotten how far I’d be from everything I know. When I finally purchased my airfare, it all became too real.
All the fears and apprehensions of feeling lonely, missing my dog, getting lost and running out of money, hit me like a ton of bricks. I started researching tips on travelling solo and I think the internet is what saved my sanity.
I’m a relatively calm person, but when stress hits, it can easily overwhelm me and I certainly didn’t want to feel this way so far away from home. I read article upon article of solo female travellers who talked about overcoming their own fears of travelling solo. I watched countless YouTube videos on the destinations I was planning to visit to get a feel for the place. All of this helped me see that other regular human beings had made it there and that with good preparation, there was absolutely nothing to fear.
I can be a bit of a baby when it comes to missing my friends and family. I’ve been like that ever since I can remember and although it has gotten better over the years, I still get these moments where I strongly miss the comforts of home. My first destination being Myanmar, I was afraid that going through the culture shock of such a foreign place would push me to crave being back home.
I can’t lie and say that it was always easy breezy. There were a few moments where something would remind me of someone or something from home. Or a certain situation made me smile and all I wanted was to have my close friends with me to have a good laugh. Those moments were difficult, especially on days when I’d be a little more tired and wouldn’t be as active. Most days, exploring and meeting other travellers kept me so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on being homesick.
Getting lost was a scary one for me to overcome because I get lost in my own hometown. No joke! I have zero sense of direction and need a GPS at all times. I knew I had to find a way to have access to offline maps of the areas I’d be staying to walk around a new city. Wondering if I’d make it back to my accommodation safely at the end of the day was a bit of a stressful point for me.
What helped me a lot, in this case, was thinking about the worse case scenario. I’m not talking about getting kidnapped or robbed, but what would I do if I did get lost? I had to come up with solutions that would appease my anxiety.
First of all, I made sure to download offline maps of all the areas I knew I’d be visiting. I even studied the maps and got to know the important areas. This gave me a sense of control over where I was going. Then I’d plan to always have a little extra money on me in case I would have to pay for a taxi back to my accommodation. This actually happened to me at some point in Thailand and I was so glad I had starred my hotel on my offline map to show the taxi driver where to go. This is when I also learned that we can’t necessarily rely on taxi drivers to know where they’re going. Always be your own backup plan!
I also had to guarantee myself a way to get in contact with someone if needed, so I always carried a fully charged battery pack for my cell phone in case it ran out of juice. I know that people used to get around without cell phones before our generation. I simply prefer the independence of having access to all the information I need right in my hand.
I certainly didn’t want to book everything in advance because I wanted to leave room for spontaneous plans. I had simply thought out my itinerary and I researched the best ways to get around between cities. I knew about the approximate routes and prices I should expect and that reassured me a lot when planning out an overall budget for the trip.
I say to always be your own backup plan because I truly believe this to be the way to plan things. But I also learned to never underestimate the kindness of strangers. Travelling, especially travelling solo, really opened up my eyes to how kind and generous people are. Know that if you’re in genuine need of help, you will find your good samaritan.
The biggest lesson I got from my first solo trip was that a certain amount of planning is helpful, but that overdoing it out of fear or stress is totally useless!
Planning out a rough itinerary was very helpful, but there’s no need for booking all the accommodation beforehand. Making sure you have enough money to pay for unforeseen costs is important, but unless you’re going deep into the jungle, don’t take out an ungodly amount of money. Worrying about missing home is useless because you will be too busy having amazing adventures and meeting new travellers every day that time will fly by so quickly. Staying connected to the outside world with your electronics is smart, but don’t forget to put them down once in a while and enjoy the moment!
Did you find Elle’s suggestions helpful? What other fears or questions do you have about solo travel as an introvert? Pop them in the comments and we will do our best to answer!