Ask Me Anything: Scared to Travel Alone

I have posted a few e-mails from readers before, under the tag “ask me anything“. I’m going to be doing it more often. I get a lot of very similar e-mails which means there are a lot of people out there thinking the same questions. Why not address them to everyone? That is what inspired my FAQ about India post. You can search more like these under the tag or in the search bar: “ask me anything”.

Scared to Travel

After answering this e-mail, I realized I’ve gotte a lot that are similar. People have fears of travel and I’ll tell you exactly what I told her.

“The second I booked my flight, I just got scared. I am 19 years old, and I really don’t know what I’m doing, even though that’s something I think is the great thing about traveling as well, it also is really scary.  I’ve read all your posts on female traveling, and you have some very good tips. I was just wondering if you could tell me something that helped you get less scared before you travelled? If there is even something to tell of course… I know it will be scary at first no matter what. “

Travel can be scary! Especially the day before and day of. If you are an anxious person at all, you’re bound to get a belly-ache. You’ll start double checking your lists and making sure your flight REALLY leaves when you think it does. That’s okay. I promise, everyone who has any type of anxiety does it. Anxiety always escalated when it comes to travel.

When you’re on the plane all alone.. you may start thinking “what the fuck was I thinking!? OMG.”

Well, I’m here to assure you that I’ve had that feeling and it goes away. It’s how I felt the first time I was on a plane to India. I was all, “I’m going to see tigers and hike to the top of a mountain!” and then once I got on the plane to Bombay along with all these confusing Indian people, I was like, “who cares about tigers, I should have just gone to the zoo, and really I hate hiking, I don’t even want to climb a mountain or even a hill for that matter.”

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It gets better…

When I landed in Bombay, I couldn’t sleep thanks to the time change, so I laid awake until the sun finally rose and I could explore. That’s when all my fears went away. I realized it wasn’t such a scary crazy place and I wasn’t the only person doing it. I met friends right away near the train station.

India is a pretty daunting place to a new traveler and if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. If you are showing up in Paris or Bangkok, you’re going to adjust so much faster than you think.

You’re going to be nervous, maybe even a little scared. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s excitement just getting confused and being misplaced, in my opinion.

Just keep your head up and once you get to your destination you’ll see the worry was for nothing.

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Some Tips on Anxiety & being scared to travel alone:

  • Join couchsurfing, not just to stay with a host but for meet ups. You can even find a travel buddy like I did in India. It’s great to have a “friend” in your new place. Try to do this at your arrival point so you can adjust better, like I did staying with Elise in Bombay.
  • Feeling bored and lonely in a big city? Go to the train station and scout for another tourist arriving. Don’t be creepy though! In India, the forien tourist quota line is bound to have some toursits hanging around that you can sightsee with.
  • Take something comforting from home: maybe it’s your favorite songs on a playlist, photos on your iPhone to scroll though, or a hoodie you love.
  • Embrace traveling alone. Write, learn to take great photos, try taking a language book and practicing talking to locals.
  • If you have severe anxiety, don’t let that stop you from traveling. As a nurse, I have seen first hand how people with anxiety taking their medications appropriately just makes it melt away. Talk to your MD before your trip and get some “just in case”.

feature image photo source flickr

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35 responses to “Ask Me Anything: Scared to Travel Alone”

  1. Rebekah says:

    haha, my heart starts pounding when I get to a new place and I don’t know where I’m going to stay or how to get anywhere…. it always works out but sometimes its stressful. Oh god, and getting lost at night….. not good feelings. I’m a bit wary of meds but I find deep breathing and visualizing everything working out fine helps a lot. Especially since 95% of the time, everything does work out fine

  2. Silvia says:

    These are great tips, Rachel! I think knowing that the terror will soon pass is key – I was shaking in my headscarf when I first landed in Iran, but it ended up being one of my favorite solo trips!

  3. Silvia says:

    These are great tips, Rachel! I think knowing that the terror will soon pass is key – I was shaking in my headscarf when I first landed in Iran, but it ended up being one of my favorite solo trips!

  4. Really good tips for a first time solo traveller here, Rachel! The anxiety will melt away in no time and it is so worth it! :)

  5. Great tips- I can understand why people would be afraid to travel alone or even with a friend, but I think you can learn to push through the fear and it’s worth it!

  6. Even as someone who’s taken many many trips, I still get anxious the days leading up and day of when going alone! I love how you describe it, Rachel: misplaced/confused excitement :)

  7. Emily says:

    I always need to double (triple and quadruple) check my flights…it’s something I will always do before travelling and moving on!

  8. Great tips Rachel! The first time I traveled alone was to Mexico, but I stayed at a resort so it wasn’t too scary. Recently I had the unfortunate experience of having to leave my expat home rather quickly (like 3 hours notice) and head to a neighboring island for a week. I was by myself with ZERO preparation and walked off the ferry dock and was like, “well, crap.” I had no idea where to stay or eat or what to do, so I just started walking towards town with everyone else and by the time I got to town 10 minutes later I had friends and a place to stay :)

  9. Laura says:

    Well said, Rachel. I still always get that anxious feeling when I first arrive somewhere, but like you said, it always melts away. Great tips!

  10. No matter how many times I travel, no matter where I go, I tend to get that boom boom thud feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’ve found that trying to keep as much of the same routine as you would at home really helps ease you in. For example I tend to always have coffee in the morning before I eat. Or always have an aisle seat when I get on the plane. These small things keep me comforted and retaining some semblance of ‘normality’

  11. Great tips!

    Although I travel with my partner now, I used to love travelling solo. But I didn’t get over that ‘women cannot travel alone’ mental barrier that I had until I turned 28.
    I got over that fear when I started reading other women’s travel blogs – that’s when I truly realised that a) women can and do travel alone and b) nothing bad happens to them! I guess I’d advise others who are worried about going it solo to read as many fab blogs such as yours as possible in order to see just how many women are doing it! It’s what helped me to take my first trip alone and I ended up loving every minute of it.

    • Rachel Jones says:

      Thats so cool that blogs helped you travel solo! Actually, I didn’t know about them before I traveled alone but thank god I know now.. so many blogs inspire me to go new places!

  12. Aimee-Lee says:

    I’m going to India for 2 months next year! So excited because it’s my first overseas trip ever!.. but super nervous about being on my own for the second month (the first month I am in a tour). Are the trains pretty easy to navigate/frequent? I have to workout how to get from kochi to Delhi but worried that if my tour is going to take 31 day to get from the north down to the south whether I will have enough time to get back up to spend a decent amount of time in the north!

    • Rachel Jones says:

      The trains are really easy and if you tip the “helper” guy he will be extra good to you- give you extra food, or blanket, and wake u up when it’s time to get off the train (but set your own alarm in case he falls asleep!)

  13. Great advice! I agree, the feeling of terror goes away quickly (usually right as you get off the plane). I remember my first solo trip to Peru, I didn’t know anyone else going and had no idea who I would be hanging out with. I’m still best friends with the people I met on that trip. Also I like going on free city tours to meet fellow travelers!

  14. Irene says:

    These tips and your blog have been so, so helpful as I’ve been planning my trip to India! I’m 20 years old and traveling alone for the first time, so I’m really hoping that I find other people to travel with like you have. You’ve also made me very excited to visit Goa!

  15. Alex says:

    Thanks for posting your response to this question! I’m traveling on my own for the first time, and it can be scary at first. Overall though, it’s really empowering. I feel like I can take on the world!

  16. Love this article – I’ve recommended it for a friend of mine actually who is considering her first overseas trip, but is worried about travelling alone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! :)

  17. My pleasure! She’s done some reading, and said that yours was a standout! So I guess that’s positive!! :D

  18. […] I answered an e-mail for a reader asking how to get rid of those butterflies before a solo trip, check it out if you’re a little nervous to travel alone. […]

  19. helen says:

    Hi rachel is it neccessary to vaccinate before visiting India im a bit against vaccination and if which are the vaccines need to be done before visiting Thank U

  20. […] a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of […]

  21. […] a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of […]

  22. […] a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item […]

  23. […] a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of […]

  24. […] a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of […]

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