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Tips to overcome the Fear of Solo Travel
One of the first things that you must put to the side as you overcome the fear of solo travel is the fear of traveling alone. I wasn’t taught about how to overcome the fear of solo travel growing up as my family traveled. I traveled to a lot of places while I was younger (mostly within the Midwest), but then as I graduated high school, I left to join the Air Force as quickly as humanly possible.
While I was in, I traveled all over the US and abroad (including the nice sandy ones). I started to learn about how to overcome the fear of solo travel throughout my journeys as time went on. As a female, or even just as an individual traveling around the world to countries where they do not speak English or even have the same values and thought processes I do, I did have to find a way to make it work.
I had to find a way to get to my room, find how to get the local money, find a ride, food, fun, entertainment, and even how to date around the world. This process to learn how to overcome the fear of solo travel is a practiced one and doesn’t happen overnight.
So, once you determine your bottom-of-the-barrel needs, you can best determine your wants and desires.
If you’re looking for a ready-made vacation where there’s no real desire to understand a new culture or experience new things, you should book the all-inclusive resort and sit by the pool all day in a foreign country. Here, you will meet all the people from the Western world there to sip Mai-Tais, and that’s totally okay hire a travel agent and get that experience; I sure would if that was what I was looking for. If you are trying to get over your fear of solo travel, though, you’ll need to continue to broaden your horizons.
I’m not holding it against anyone, and I’ve had that experience several times, it’s just not what this blog is based upon. So here are a few questions to ask yourself when the fear of traveling alone pops up:
I WANT TO TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY, BUT I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW. WHAT DO I DO?
I’ve been asked this question so many times by people that want to see something different and go somewhere new, but are scared or don’t know how to do so. So, I’m here to answer this for you.
So, put your scaredy pants back in the closet and focus on the goal. You may be intimated, but I promise it will be worth it if you do.
STEP 1: ACQUIRE A PASSPORT AND ANY REQUIRED VISAS
Get your passport and ensure the country you want to go to doesn’t require a visa prior to arrival. You can check that out online. Most won’t require anything additional, but do a little research and look up the local embassy for any potential requirements. If you are from the U.S., the State Department will have the rules and regulations for acquiring your passport: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
If you are from another country, you will want to check with your own government agency.
STEP 2: LOCATION SELECTION AND RENTALS
Once you have your location chosen and your passport in hand, I recommend booking a place in the country you are visiting for 3 or 4 days close to the airport in the destination. These are the options that may help to reduce your Fear of Solo Travel. The other option is to book one in the city that you want to stay in, but also limit it to 3-4 days. I recommend this because it will give you time to talk to the locals.
They will be able to make recommendations on how to get around, where to go, etc, that may not be found online. If you stay closer to the airport, you can hop over to your hotel on the day of arrival and sleep off the jet lag rather than trying to find your way through the city to your actual destination on your first day in the country.
I’ve taken the route of booking a long-term rental and found that when I got there, the rental was not in the location I truly wanted to be in. I decided that I wanted to move around rather than be stuck in one location. Attempting to get my money back after that was not a fun process either.
Also, once you get there, you will find cheaper places than you can online. Search engines tend to focus on posts that were created and marketed to your country, and many postings you can find locally may not even be posted online. This is where you will need to talk to the locals upon your arrival. They’ll certainly help!
Check out: 5 Must-Try Traditional Foods in Spain for Travelers
As far as how much money you will need, that will depend on the location you are going to and what you want to do when you are there. Make sure you have a variety of payment options, cash/credit/debit, and make sure to keep enough to get home (just in case).
STEP 3: CURRENCY REQUIREMENTS
How much money do I take, and in what currency? Personally, I take a look at how long you will be there, what an average hotel stay would cost for that period, and the average daily cost of your meals. You can always find a cheaper hotel or cook your own food, but at least you will know an average of what it should cost. Make sure to account for transportation and, in the end, keep a bit of a slush fund that you don’t touch to ensure you can get home again (if that is your intent).
Overall, I take only a portion of my money in cash. I don’t worry about changing currencies (in most cases) until I get to the country I fly into. Upon landing, I located the ATM in the airport and took out several hundred dollars worth of local currency. I do this to ensure that the cab ride is covered and enough for my first several days in the country.
Most locations take a credit card, so it will be ever so helpful (but I would use either a MasterCard or Visa)! American Express and Discover aren’t taken in every location, and it becomes frustrating if this is your only card.
STEP 4: TRAVEL TO YOUR HOTEL THE FIRST NIGHT
Make sure you prepare how you will get to your hotel prior to leaving home. Are you going to take a cab? Are you going to request a service to come and pick you up? Will the hotel provide a car? Knowing how you will deal with this step will ease a lot of tension when you arrive.
Be careful with your valuables, and don’t take rides with people who come up to you and ask out of the blue. Ensure you utilize the cab stands rather than random individuals that come out of nowhere. These people could be dangerous or charge a significantly higher price for the same ride just because they know you aren’t from there.
STEP 5: PACKING
How do I pack for a trip overseas? Pack for the season, throw in a sweatshirt or two as well, and dress appropriately for the flight in layers so you can always take something off or put it on. I always pack to ensure I have additional space in my suitcase for whatever I bring home.
You will tend to collect things, and/or what you pack in the first place may not fit again after it’s worn. I’m not sure what happens to clothes, but they morph and grow, and sitting on them won’t work. So, ensure you have extra space or bring an empty one for your purchases. Remember to buy the type of charger or a universal charger for your electronic devices. There are many types, so you’ll want the universal kind that can be used in every situation.
STEP 6: COMMUNICATION/CELL PHONE
Cell phones may or may not work in your destination. You will want to check with your carrier at home to see if they can unlock your phone to be utilized abroad. If not, you may need a different type of cell phone. So, while it is possible to get service through your home carrier, you will want to also check your rate plan.
Making a call can get super expensive if you aren’t paying attention to your per-minute rates in each country.
You could also purchase a new phone once you are in the country if you so decide to, but this is more of a hassle than it’s worth. The phone generally takes time to activate, and there are better options.
The third and best option that I recommend is to purchase an e-sim card online before you arrive in the country. You can get a sim card once you get in the country at the airport as well, but I like having it all done as soon as I land.
Check out my post on e-sims and grab yours to avoid dealing with the hassle and reduce your fear of solo travel. I assure you that having the ability to communicate is priceless!
A LAST LITTLE NUGGET OF ADVICE TO COPE WITH THE FEAR OF SOLO TRAVELING:
The last bit of advice I could give you is: keep an open mind!! It’s a big world out there, and while humans are humans, cultures are very different (which is what makes travel so much fun). Other cultures sometimes do things very differently than your own culture, and keeping that open mind will help you see the world from another perspective.
So, get up, don’t be scared, just get GOING, and don’t forget to Travel Till You Drop!