A question I get asked quite often, is “how did you get the courage to travel by yourself?” I meet a lot of people (men and women alike) who consider it a brave and far-fetched thing to do, but mostly these questions come from other women. With this in mind, I decided to write this post, about how (as someone with high-functioning anxiety and zero sense of direction) I plucked up the courage to pursue my dream of backpacking for a year. What I did to mentally prepare myself for solo female travel, and how you can do it to! I’ll also write a follow-up post on the best places to go for your first solo female trip.
So without further ado, let’s talk about how you can set about making your solo travel dream a reality…
Book A Ticket And Worry About The Details Later
At the end of the day, if you fret and worry and just think about it, you’ll never do it. If it’s something that you genuinely want to try, or there’s somewhere you really want to go and you’re fed up of waiting for someone to go with you, you’ll need to bite the bullet and just book the ticket. Worry about the details later. For me personally, I’m a lot more likely to go through with something (even if I don’t really want to) when I’ve had to pay for it.
Test the waters first
If you’ve never really gone anywhere by yourself before and the idea of traveling alone and navigating a foreign country by yourself scares you shitless, then perhaps test the waters first and try something a little closer to home. Go on a day trip or away for a weekend somewhere in your own country that you haven’t been to. This allows you to still get used to your own company and finding your way around, without the fear of not being able to speak the language.
I first spent a few days in London by myself when I was doing my TEFL course (Teaching English as a foreign language) and then did my first solo trip out of the country to Rome in Italy.
You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for
I think most people just don’t put themselves into challenging situations, and therefore assume that they can’t do it. The thing is, when you travel alone, you’ll probably surprise yourself and realise you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for. I mean, I am bloody awful with maps, and as I mentioned previously – I have no sense of direction whatsoever. However, in a situation where I don’t have much of a choice, I can muddle my way through things, albeit with maybe a few errors and wrong turnings along the way.
You’ll figure it out
The most difficult part of going traveling alone is that initial leap into the unknown. The thing is, you’ll figure it out. Whether its directions and map-reading, trying to communicate in a foreign language, or planning your route. There are lots of aspects of solo travel where you’ll just figure it out as you go along. You’ll learn that you can’t possibly plan everything out ahead, and that you won’t have all the answers right away.
Don’t be scared of people but be switched on
As a solo female traveller, it’s natural to be at least a little suspicious. Nine times out of ten though, most people will genuinely want to help you. Many people will have wives, daughters, and sisters and would want other people to look out for them and help them in the same way. You can anticipate to meet a lot of kindness when you travel alone as a woman, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and direction, and don’t be scared to open yourself up. Having said that, always stay switched on, and trust your gut. If a situation or a person doesn’t sit right with you, trust your instinct and get out.
You’ll get through it, you just need to persevere
Traveling alone isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s hard, lonely, confusing and scary. It’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes you’ll have days when you really struggle, but that’s natural, and you need to remind yourself that it will be ok. Whatever struggles and obstacles you may face on a solo trip, you’ll get through them, just don’t give up straight away. No one walks right out of the womb and into the world knowing everything. It takes experiences and perseverance to achieve anything.
I’ve had plenty of frustrating, scary and downright embarrassing experiences over the years that I have learnt from, it’s all part of the journey! I hope this has helped some of you who may be considering doing their first solo trip, and given you an insight into what it’s like for solo female travellers.
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