How to Build Up the Courage to Travel Solo for the First Time

How to Build Up the Courage to Travel Solo for the First Time

Sometimes, it's all about taking small steps to boost your confidence.

Do you have that one friend who always seems to be zipping off to multiple countries without anyone, and enjoying all that the world can offer without a care in the world? Do you sit behind your screen with a green-eyed yearning to do the same? Except one thing is holding you back: Either you’re either scared to travel alone, or you simply don’t know where to start.

Many fellow solo travellers have told me that it is as easy as picking a destination, booking a plane ticket, and then going. Yet, at the same time, we hear horror stories from our loved ones warning us (albeit out of concern) about the places we plan to go to. While many sites will tell you to ignore the “naysayers” and just visualize good trips, you could also follow these simple steps below to get comfortable and finally have the courage to travel solo.

courage to travel solo

Image credit: Alicia Chong

Also read: Why Travelling Solo Is the Best Way to Spend Your Post-Pandemic Trip

Option A: Travel solo but not alone

Yes, travelling in groups could help you get past the fear of travelling alone. For most people, the urge to travel solo happens starts when they realise it’s sometimes a struggle to find friends to go with. However, there are also the countless worst-case scenarios that our brains tend to needlessly remind us about. 

Well, there’s nothing wrong with listening to that brain. Still, it’s also good to learn to push yourself out of your comfort zone just a little bit. So, instead of travelling with your friends, why not travel with a group of people whom you have never met before?

On my first exchange trip to Bangkok, I went with a buddy and we stuck together the whole time. While we did have some good bonding times, I could have used the time to bond more with the others on that exchange. So, on my next exchange trip to Canada, I signed up alone. It was also my first time flying on my own. 

courage to travel solo

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You can build the courage to travel solo through small steps, not all in one shot! My new friends on that trip taught me many things; from learning how to get cheap flights, to using GPS to get around. We had the best time learning about one another’s cultures and being surprised about how we were more alike than we assumed. 

If you are no longer in school, you can start this process by joining tour groups alone. While this is often a more expensive process, it’s definitely worth it if you’re scared to travel alone completely. If you are under 35 years old, there are agencies like Contiki and GAdventures that offer budget tours and don’t charge extra for those going by themselves. For some tours, you can even choose to have your own room for a small extra fee; otherwise, you can share with others in the group. 

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I have also heard that some travellers like to meet people in hostels they stay in, then eventually travel with these newfound pals. I have met many people this way and whenever I’m overseas, I make it a point to visit them if it’s in their home country! Although, if going with a group of new people for an entire journey is not your thing, then short day trips are the way to go.

That said, joining a tour group gives you a sense of security; you would be well taken care of, but you’ve signed up for it without knowing anyone beforehand. Of course, it’s important to still learn how to take care of yourself, which brings me to the next point…

Option B: Take mini-breaks from the group to go solo

Still hesitant to try out the previous idea? You can still travel with your friends — but this time, find opportunities to separate from the group to do your own thing. This not only builds your confidence and independence, but also dramatically improves your relationship with your friends. This allows everyone in the group to do what they really want to during a limited amount of time. 

courage to travel solo

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For those who want to start small, you do not immediately have to go completely separate ways. For example, when I was museum-hopping with a friend, we would separate to explore the galleries without each other, then just meet up later. Eventually, you will get to the point where you and your friend/s can do different things in the same city, while still staying in the same place. 

Seize the opportunity to go venture by yourself when given the time. Start with places near your accommodation before going further, but always make sure to be back on time and let others know where you are. For instance, during my family vacations, we have an agreement in which I do not have to inform them of everything and everywhere I am going, as long as I regularly share on my Instagram stories (which I like to do anyway). This allows them to be assured of my safety while giving me the freedom to do what I want with minimal supervision. 

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Option C: Schedule a different trip duration

If you’re exploring a foreign destination with a group, another idea would be to stay behind or even arrive earlier before the others. This way, you can still have the opportunity to overcome your fear of travelling solo, without having to miss a group vacation. 

Alternatively, you can also go elsewhere after your travel buddies have gone home already. After I had completed my summer exchange in Vienna, I flew to Helsinki and stayed there for three days to sightsee alone. 

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More solo travel tips before taking the plunge

After a few trips like these, you will probably start to feel like you are comfortable with going to unknown places alone and being alone. And just like that, you have reached the point where you finally have the courage to travel solo! Of course, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Always do your research (e.g., where the nearest embassy of your home country is, which are the “dangerous” areas to be wary).
  2. Have a plan B and trust your instincts. 
  3. Start with places nearer your country and have a general reputation for being solo travel-friendly!

Also read: Meet The Girl Who Travelled Overland from Indonesia to Africa: Across 18 Countries and 44 Cities in 4 Months!

Travelling solo may be nerve-wracking and exhausting, but once you get the hang of it, you will feel liberated in ways you never thought you would! By putting yourself out there, you will find that the world is a lot more welcoming place than you thought. At the same time, you will leave a piece of your heart with the exciting places and new people that you meet. 


Featured image credit: MStudioImages via Canva Pro

About Author

Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

Besides dreaming of far-fetched locations, Alicia enjoys training herself and others on ice in figure skating.

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