Nervous to Travel Solo? Here’s why you should do it anyway...
We all have our fears. Few things are better at revealing what makes us uncomfortable better than fear, and it’s normal to have them – be they spiders, failures, having visible love handles, farts, or sharks (what do these have in common? All of these are fears of yours truly. I’m equal parts angry and petrified that farting exists.) What’s not normal, at least not okay, is letting our fears hinder us from living our best life.
There’s a lot of fear around the concept of traveling solo as a woman. And it’s no surprise, really, when turning on the news these days, ignites about the same reaction as a job layoff or a breakup text – we’re left with a heightened sense that the world is becoming more dangerous and less secure. Much like my sanity on Valentine’s Day. *sips wine at breakfast.*
It is all too easy to fall into the black hole of scary stories that make us fearful of leaving the house, let alone our hometown or – ghast – the country. But I cannot drive this point home hard enough: the more we push ourselves to explore the world around us, the more we realize that it is much more accessible and less dangerous than the news wants us to believe. It is more navigable, researchable, educational, and truly wonderful than it has ever been. Getting out of your familiar vicinity to explore somewhere new to you is one of the best initiatives you can take in your young adult life (really your life life, TBH, but I’m speaking specifically to my fellow millennial badass females here in this juicy chapter of youth.)
And I’m not talking about tagging along on a family resort trip where Mommy and Daddy foot every bill and your only worry is whether the waves are going to reach your chair. I mean having the brass ovaries to do it all yourself. Save the money, shop the flights, book that bad boy, call your own agenda, and just DO IT. When every decision about the trip rests on your shoulders, it does something to you. It challenges you. It brings you out of your routine and forces you to ask yourself questions that get you better acquainted with yourself. Are you more drawn to the city or the beach? Do you love living in the city, but for that reason you prefer to escape to the beach? Does “structure” or “whatever” better describe your ideal day-to-day? Do tours fascinate you or make you want to puke? When it’s you who calls the shots – li-trah-lly every single shot – you learn more about yourself than you might have ever guessed would happen.
Something else that tends to happen as a result of solo traveling is self-discipline. Wherever you already fall on the scale, destination costs don’t tend to dissipate into thin air (but don’t we wish…) Earning your own money to pay for your vacation makes you relish every bit of it so much more: each bite of your food tastes better, every beer is savored, every night in your bed is yours to boast with your sleep-free eyeballs every morning when you wake up.
As a twenty-something, I got an incredible offer for a fall magazine internship, and it was in London. I was living in North Carolina at the time. I had a meager savings, the position was unpaid, and I had no way of covering all the costs. But I realized that I wanted this opportunity for myself so badly, I chose to refuse to let failure be an option. I’ll figure it out, no matter what it takes. And I did. I worked three jobs that summer, fundraised for my plane ticket, saved aggressively, moved in with a family of seven to cut costs, and worked my ministry and university networks to the bone until I found affordable housing during my stay in England. I planned ahead as best I could to keep a solid budget, and I cooked a lot of my meals over there to save my wallet. My odds of pulling all of it off on my own were slim, yes, but because I’d set my mind to making it work, I enjoyed one of the best overseas trips of my life. I learned to live small so I could really live big by living in a new country.
If money is your excuse, it’s only as much an excuse as you allow it.
And you can do the same. There are plenty of objections we tend to make when it comes to plunking down the cash and committing to a trip. (1) Money? We’ve covered that. (2) Time? I say there’s no time like the present. (3) Work? If you’re working in a job that doesn’t let you take vacation time, then you’re not living your life. It’s time to swallow the excuses (because that’s what they are – excuses!) that keep you shackled to that job you know you hate and find something that allows enough grace to have a work-life balance.
What if you’re in a (4) relationship? To that I say refer to number (3). If you got a boo, and he pushes back at the idea of you taking a solo vacation and spending time away from them for any reason, they ain’t your boo. That’s a sign of insecurity and lack of trust. It’s time to dump that spineless wounch and leave room for people in your life who are going to encourage you to do more things like this because it helps you grow and fllipping find yourself, ‘mkay?? Anyone working toward achieving the opposite is not your friend.
Finally, once you’ve stepped off the plane/boat/train and you’ve arrived to your exciting new home for the next week, don’t stop here when it comes to pushing yourself. Start conversations. Talk to people. Practice the language. Make new friends, even with others you wouldn’t normally get chatty with back home. Cause guess what! You wouldn’t meet these people if you were back home!! So drop that excuse, too, like it’s hot af.
Go forth and conquer the world, travel babes!! Leave a comment below with your own story about taking a risk by taking a trip by yourself and why it was the best decision ever.
Cover image via Traveling King