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.
Thanks for your kind words Tammy. This year once the website is up and running, I’m off to Brazil and Central America. Hoping to stay at Lake Atitlan for a bit and get on with the writing. How about you and Chris?