How to Overcome Your Fear of Traveling Alone in Your 20's
A few years ago I had this thought, “I’m going to pack my bags and go traveling alone in the world.” Now I know that was a little impulsive so I didn’t end up doing that all the way. I thought the digital nomad life was for me, but read on to find out why it wasn’t… and what I found out instead. If you’ve been thinking about traveling alone in your twenties, there’s plenty of reasons to do it. Before I learned about this digital nomadic lifestyle online, I thought people only traveled with family or friends. I ended up traveling alone for a few reasons:
- I had immense wanderlust. When I stumble upon photos on Instagram and Pinterest, photos of skylines and landscapes are calling me.
- I use to believe that traveling alone is the freest I’ll ever be. It’s when I’m away from home, from my friends, from my job, and from everything else that is holding me back. It was kinda like this “rite of passage” for me, you see?
- I had a few friends who did it and raved about it. I admired their independence.
- It’s hard to schedule meetups and get-togethers in your twenties. People always claim that they’re “busy” and who has time to wait for busy people?
I can probably go on and on. The benefits of traveling alone in your twenties are huge. It’ll definitely be one of the biggest transformations you’ll ever experience after graduating from college and entering the working world.
But I know that each time I travel alone, there’s some resistance. There’s fear in traveling alone. And each time, I noticed I have to give myself a little pep talk before I do it. One time, I felt so much resistance and paralysis that I almost canceled the trip.
So today, I thought I’ll share some of the resistance and fear I had so you can overcome your fear of traveling alone too.
#1 Understand that you’re not the only one.
When you’re in a state of fear or resistance, you’re closing down yourself to the world. And as you close yourself, you shrink a little more. And a little more. You get so into your own head that you’re no longer being the observer of your thoughts, but you’re living in your own head.
Most people who do it for the first time have some kind of fear. I find this true especially if you’ve grown up in an overprotective family like mine. When I was younger, my grandparents would always tell us that it’s dangerous to leave the house. Of course, they weren’t aware that it was only their own beliefs that created these thoughts.
It’s ironic how as me and my sisters got older, we all embarked on our own solo traveling adventures. The best way to overcome your fear is really just to do it. The best way to show other people that their fears are irrational is to do it.
#2 Journal out your fears and get to the bottom of things.
I love journaling. It’s the best way to get honest with yourself and connect with your soul. I realized that before journaling out my thoughts, all my thoughts filtered through my ego. And your ego acts out of fear.
Simply start asking yourself one basic question, “Why are you afraid of traveling alone?”
Then start listing out all your reasons. Don’t filter yourself. Relax. And let all those fears out. Let those devils out. Haha.
#3 Your fear is telling you that you want this.
I always feel like there is a flip side to fear. Sometimes this can be love. Sometimes it can be desire. Other times, it’s something else. But if you’re feeling the fear, it means you really want this. Your mind won’t be so focused on something if you don’t desire it.
It’s simply that at this moment, you’re looking at traveling alone from the “fear” perspective instead of the “desire” perspective. Once you can turn to the other perspective, you’re well on your way to traveling alone.
Don’t deny or resist your fear. Acknowledge it. It’s okay.
#4 What are you more afraid of than traveling alone?
Is it FOMO? Is it not being able to see the world? Is it not being able to connect with people from other cultures? Is it looking back 10 years later and realized you slept through your twenties? Whatever your reason may be, write it down.
Sometimes all it takes to conquer one fear is to discover another fear. If you don’t get to travel alone, what are you afraid will happen? Your new fear will help dissolve your fear of traveling alone.
This method of “using a new fear to conquer an old fear” (I totally made that phrase up, I hope you don’t mind haha) works really well for me. When I asked myself this question, I realized that I was more afraid of looking back 10 years later and realized I don’t have stories to tell.
#5 Know that traveling alone means different things to different people.
I use to think that I’ll love a digital nomad lifestyle after reading some blogs and seeing people’s Instagrams. But after going on a few solo trips, I realized that’s not for me. Figuring out your way in a new country takes up enough time and energy so I definitely don’t want to work during that time.
Don’t let other people’s definitions, lifestyles, and adventures of “solo traveling” tell you what “traveling alone” means. You don’t have to be on the road constantly.
In an ideal world, I’ll be going to a new place every three months and in between blogging and my work. It’s called lifestyle design for a reason. You design a life that works for you though it’s always nice to take inspiration from others.
#6 The world is only dangerous because you think it is.
I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this. I grew up in Asian household where my mom and grandparents are always overprotective for no reason. When you’re always surrounded by people who are a “it’s dangerous out there” mentality, then you’ll begin to believe it.
One of the biggest mindset breakthroughs I had of traveling alone was seeing my friends around me do it. Their stories inspired me to try it. And sure enough, once my mom and family saw how safe traveling alone was, their own fears dissolved.
#7 Practice the language before embarking on your journey.
If there’s one major fear I still have of traveling alone today, it’s not being able to speak the country’s language. And this fear goes beyond just not being able to get around the city.
Sure, there’s always fear of not being able to speak the language and you can’t ask for directions. But my greater fear is not being able to connect with the people there. I personally feel that if you haven’t connected with the people there, you haven’t fully immersed yourself in that country.
Of course, you may travel for other reasons like shopping or sightseeing. I love that too.
There are definitely apps that you can download and start learning a language from a native speaker around the world.
Another option is to download a translation app. So if you’re afraid of getting lost or you want to be able to ask basic questions, you can use the app to help you translate.
#8 People are generally nice because you’re on the same boat.
This one seems like a minor one in the grand scheme of things, but I definitely had this fear. When you’re living with strangers in the same Airbnb apartment, aren’t you afraid that your stuff will get stolen?
I hate to think the worse of people, but fears are fears and I really had that question pop up at one point in time. This old thinking of mine probably stemmed from growing up with the “world is dangerous” mentality.
Luckily a friend helped me put it in perspective and she simply said, “Everyone here is traveling alone with a similar purpose. People will respect each others stuff and privacy.”
#9 You’ll meet like-minded friends along the way.
I’ve traveled alone a couple times and this is true. I do feel the loneliness sometimes so there’s no need to lie about it.
The good news is that I’m an introvert and I love being alone.
When you travel alone, you’ll meet people on the road. Most of the people I’ve met came so unexpectedly. It’s like serendipity when we both realized we’re here to visit for the same reasons. “Whhaaa”
When you can be alone, you’ll open up yourself to experiences that wouldn’t happen if you traveled with family.
#10 The world is closer than you think -- you won’t get lost.
“Not all who wander are lost.”
Haha, I just thought that’s the perfect moment to throw that quote in. You can find most things online. Give or take, you might need to plan your itinerary and trip, but no great things happen without a little planning -- and dreamin’.
If you’re visiting a city, transportation is always easy. That’s because there’s usually a metro around so you don’t need to haila taxi. I mean, when you’re traveling, who has time for that? Lol.
I usually piece together an itinerary and between my legs, the metro, city buses, ferry rides, engine-powered boats, and cable cars (I serious!) I can find my way around town.
#11 Travel to some place that makes you comfortable first.
I honestly think traveling alone (or with others) should be a fun, enjoyable thing that fuels your wanderlust dreams. So if you’re still feeling the fear of traveling alone, start small.
You don’t have to travel out of the country for your first trip. I personally find that traveling to cities are very safe because there’s lots of people. Just pick one that you’ve been wanting to go for a long time.
#12 Make a plan.
As a classic INTJ, I love planning. Sometimes I overplan which I realize can stifle my creativity.
But if you want to get all your ducks in a row and be as safe as you can, I’d recommend making a plan. Once you have an itinerary, you’ll feel that you have something tangible to hold onto. Also, things get more real and traveling alone becomes inevitable once you lock things down on paper.