When I quit my job to travel, many people told me that they’d love to go! BUT, they simply cannot, because they wouldn’t know who to go with or how to find an organization. This made me realize something: most people probably think one at least of those two things is necessary to go abroad. That makes total sense. In fact, I think that only reason I didn’t immediately think of those things is because I went on a foreign exchange for a year in high school. So, I sort of began traveling alone at a young age.
Nonetheless, I knew that traveling alone would present plenty of challenges, and it has. Some expected, some surprising. But, nothing has made me think I can’t handle this. I so can handle this, and so can you! In fact, traveling alone is my preferred way to travel. If you’re dying to travel, doing so alone should be the last thing that stops you. The most important thing to remember when you’re feeling lonely is why you wanted to travel in the first place. Most likely, above all, you’ll remember that you wanted to grow as a person. Hold that close to you and make the most of it.
No matter how independent you may be, you’re never going to have the opportunity to do exactly what you want to do as much as you are right now. Going out alone every day means every day is completely up to you! Where you want to eat, where you want to go, when you want to wake up, what alias you want to use that day (hey, anything goes!), is all 100% your call. This will take some getting used to. But, if you’re feeling lonely, remember the privilege that freedom is. You’ll come by it quite like this again in life.
The thing about traveling alone is that you’re never really alone. Traveling is done with other travelers, for the most part! Don’t be nervous to talk to other travelers, you already have something great in common to talk to them about. If you’re naturally shy, this is a great time to break out of your comfort zone. I’m guessing you must be pretty into that “breaking out of your comfort zone” thing at this point if you’re traveling alone. Plus, you literally never have to see these people again, ever. Never. Digest that.
(Well, not too responsible :).)
One thing I’m sure to do in a new place to give me (and my mother) some peace of mind is collecting the following information:
- Local emergency phone number
- Local physician’s contact information/ location
- ATM location
- Pharmacy location
- Embassy location in that country.
These simple steps will make you feel (and truly be) safer. It’s not too much work and it’s the smart thing to do.
Listen to your gut.
I’ve found in some ways I have had to splurge more than I would if I was traveling with others. I’ve never felt truly unsafe in Southeast Asia, but I have felt uneasy at times. For example, I had two, weekend trips planned for the first month I came here. One in Cambodia, one in Thailand. I was supposed to take overnight sleeper buses on each one. Morning of the first trip and I had a knot in my stomach. I did not want to get on that busy in the rainy season in Cambodia. I knew that I probably would’ve been fine, but I would’ve been uncomfortable. Why should I feel uncomfortable on a trip I’m doing entirely for myself? So, I booked a flight instead. Yes, this was a more expensive option. So I canceled my Thailand trip. I would’ve loved to have done both, but I needed to listen to my gut. Plus, Thailand isn’t going anywhere!
Affirmations are powerful, man. Incredibly powerful. When you’re feeling really positive or excited, write down what you’re feeling excited about. Write down why you feel good. You can read these to yourself every night before you go to bed, or when you wake up. Also, you can read them when you’re down or nervous. But the power of affirming what you know you believe will bring those beliefs back to you. Here are some of mine (some original, some researched):
- I am brave and confident; I deserve all that I have received and am humbled by it, too;
- My body is healthy; mind is brilliant; soul is tranquil;
- The world is full of pure and genuine good. It is all around me;
- My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite;
- I am completely in control of my mood and my surroundings;
- My strength is becoming stronger, better, deeper, and more evident every day;
- Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good;
- I am exactly when and where I am supposed to be.
This is about a time of self-love. Don’t you forget it! On the one hand, don’t treat it like a luxurious vacation. But on the other, remember that this is about you. Feel like staying in one day? You do so. Need a massage? Get one. Want to have a couple drinks at a close bar? Do that! Be very gentle with yourself. You’ve put yourself in a very vulnerable place, physically and mentally. You are brave to have done so, and you deserve to be rewarded for that bravery.
Reflect on traveling alone.
This is the most important part of taking advantage of traveling alone. This is what makes the entire reason you did this in the first place worth it. If you’re not recognizing and digesting what you’re learning, it could be a lot harder to stay positive about being alone. In reflecting daily, you’ll appreciate everything you’ve learned. You’ll also see things that you probably wouldn’t have learned had you been with others.
If you want a helping hand in your travel journeys, check out my Travel Resource Library. It includes a 2-page reflection journal that helps me reflect and absorb. I made it specifically for my Southeast Asia trip.You’ll have access to that and other great travel resources in it by signing up below.
Traveling alone has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t recommend it enough. What are your favorite tips on traveling alone?