The thought of travelling alone can be a scary feeling and can leave your head swimming with questions of ‘what if?’
‘What if I don’t find anywhere to stay? What if I can’t cope by myself? What if something happens and I don’t know what to do? What if I don’t meet anyone or no one likes me?’
It’s a scary concept and it doesn’t just happen to first timers.
And when it hits you, it can make you doubt your abilities as a traveller but it does get easier.
Before I went to Central Asia, I was petrified for weeks. I couldn’t speak Chinese, Mongolian or Nepalese. What if something went wrong and I was stranded with no money, no way of communicating? How would I cope?
It’s natural to have anxiety.
Travelling solo can be daunting and it’s not usually until I’m sat on the plane reading the inflight magazine, that I start to relax and the excitement kicks in.
‘I can do this,’ I think to myself and start planning what I want to see and places that I want to go to. Then I order myself a drink and toast the trip, after having a nice conservation with the person sat next to me (or spreading out if not).
For me, travelling alone means freedom: being able to do what you want, when you want. If I don’t like a place I only stay one night, if at all. If I walk into a restaurant and don’t get a good vibe, I walk out.
‘You can’t do that,’ my ex used to say, refusing to get up from his chair once we’d examined the menu.
‘Why not?’ I used to reply.
Life is full of variety and if you don’t like somewhere, there’ll be plenty more places that you do.
Rewind twelve years and it was a totally different story.
‘You won’t survive by yourself,’ I was told as I split from my friend who I had travelled with to Australia. And I nearly believed them, crying for three days wondering what on Earth I had done.
But after my mini meltdown was over, I started to get stronger, to meet different people, to get excited about where I could go next and what was there.
I grew as a person and experienced so many different adventures that I couldn’t begin to relay all the stories.
So next time you’re at the airport check-in with your belly doing cartwheels or gingerly walking into a hostel, just know that others out there are feeling exactly the same as you.
Just because you start your trip as a solo traveller doesn’t mean that’s how it will stay; any day could turn out to be the best adventure you’ve ever had.