15 Ways to Tackle Your Solo Travel Anxiety | Solo Female Travel
As a female solo traveller who has been to several foreign destinations in the last few years, I have to tell you that I do not regret a bit of anything that I did. Sure, travelling solo does make you a little anxious, but it’s nothing that women like you and I cannot overcome!
Is solo travel anxiety really a thing?
Travelling solo, for the first time or the twentieth time, can be a little nerve-wracking. The thought of being completely alone in a foreign land can be slightly intimidating as well. After all, you will be visiting a country and exploring it continuously for about a week straight. You will be going to places you have never been before, eating food you have never tried before, and trying out things you may have only dreamt or wanted at one point in your life.
Based on my experience, I have jotted down tips that can be helpful in tackling your solo travel anxiety. If you are planning your first ever solo trip or going on one for the fiftieth time, these tips will come in handy!
1. Choose your destination wisely
If you are travelling solo for the first time, I would suggest that you choose a travel destination that is safe for women. Once you do your research on safe travel destinations for women, dig in further. Read as much as you can about that particular destination online before finalising it and booking your tickets. If you are aware of the place you are about to visit well in advance, you may be able to tackle your solo travel anxiety.
In my opinion, Sri Lanka is one of the safest travel destinations for women. If exploring South Asian countries is something that has been on your bucket list, then you can start off with this beautiful country!
2. Plan your travel itinerary well
Landing in a new country with just the address of your hotel/hostel in your hand may not be a great idea to start your solo trip. I would suggest that you plan your itinerary well in advance.
Once you finish your research of the country you are going to visit, note down the places and activities that interest you the most. Then, plan your itinerary around the things you want to do on your solo trip. Even if you do not stick to the itinerary completely, it is okay. A few changes here and there would not hurt!
When you have a rough idea about how your solo trip is going to be, it will easily help tackle your anxiety.
3. Speak with people who have been to the destination you are going
I believe that at the end of the day, people who can say “been there, done that” are the ones that you can rely on in order to know a place well. You can check online travel forums and discussion groups where people share their travel experiences. These platforms can help you get an insight into the destination you are planning to visit.
4. Gather things that can be helpful for your solo trip
This is one tip that I swear by! When you travel solo, you are only dependent on yourself for every little thing in a foreign land. In a way, it also makes you responsible for yourself. This is why it is important that you gather all the things you might need for your solo trip.
For instance, when you visit a foreign land, learning a few of their local language phrases can help ensure you have a smoother travel experience. Now, this does not mean that you learn the entire language. Learning just a few basic words in the local language will do the job too! Or, you can also purchase a simple pocketbook that contains all the essential words and their equivalent local phrases.
When I had visited Dubai on my solo trip, I was a little anxious at first. One of the reasons behind my anxiety was the fact that I did not know much about Arabic culture. So, while exploring Old Dubai, I came across a tiny stall that was selling phrases pocketbooks. I purchased it without thinking twice, and honestly, it made conversing with the Arabs so much easier! Later on, I realised that feeling like an outsider in such a lavish country was what made me anxious!
5. Keep a plan for certain scenarios
Most of the time, solo travel anxiety happens when you start thinking of the ‘what-ifs.’ Although it is not possible to plan for all the possible worst-case what-ifs, you can surely keep a plan for some of them.
- What if you get lost on your way? – Carry your smartphone (with a data plan) and a paper map with you at all times.
- What if you run out of cash with no ATM in the nearby area? – Keep a sufficient amount of cash in different places of your backpack.
- What if you get sick during your solo trip? – Although you can never be prepared for this what-if, I would suggest that you carry all the basic medications. If needed, you can even apply for travel insurance.
6. Carry a sufficient amount of distractions with you
This is another of my favourite ways to tackle solo trip anxiety. I had read about how certain distractions can keep your mind off of your thoughts and feelings and reduce anxiety.
For me, listening to music or sometimes reading a book work pretty well. It may be different for you, so I would say you figure out what activities distract you when you are anxious and carry them on your solo trip.
7. Practice meditation
Mindful meditation and relaxation can work like a charm when you are anxious. In order to meditate the right way, you can download a meditation app on your smartphone.
One of the best meditation apps I know is Calm. The experts on this app guide you through the entire process of meditation, which works better than just closing your eyes and sitting in your hotel room!
8. Make ‘journaling’ a habit during your solo trip
Something as simple as writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you tackle your solo travel anxiety.
Let’s say you were worried about trying out a new adventure activity for the first time, but when you give it a try, it actually turns out better than what you expected. Penning down such small successes can help tackle your solo travel anxiety!
9. Prioritise safety—do not straight away tell you are alone
I understand that travelling alone and meeting locals and fellow travellers is quite interesting. However, I would suggest that you refrain from mentioning, to both locals and fellow travellers, that you are a solo traveller. You can reveal that you are alone once you meet someone a couple of times but not right away.
If someone tries to get creepy and makes you uncomfortable, you can simply say, “my boyfriend/husband has gone to the washroom over there, and I have got to run to meet him,” or “my family will be back from their shopping soon, so I need to leave. It was nice to meet you”.
I know using these excuses that involve other people may not seem fair when you are out on a solo trip, but safety is always the most important thing.
You can check out my blog on, Is Solo Travel Safe for Women?
10. Set guidelines for your loved ones
When your loved ones are worried for you, chances are you will be a little worried too. Although it is a lovely gesture of someone to check on you constantly, it can cause unnecessary stress for you.
You can set guidelines for how much your loved ones can contact you. Whether it is a simple “I have reached safely” text or telling them about your day, make sure you tell them everything on time so that they do not start worrying for you!
When I had gone on my first ever solo trip to Bali, I was extremely nervous. My family and friends constantly kept checking on me to make sure I was alright. Even though it was reassuring to know that my loved ones cared so deeply about me, I had told them that I would be sending them a text at the end of every day to ensure I am safe and well! Fortunately, they understood my thought process and did not take any offence when I set the boundaries.
11. Call your loved ones who can help you calm down
I understand this may not seem like an ideal choice when you are travelling solo and after you set the boundaries with them. But trust me, speaking with someone you are familiar with can really calm you down. It does not even have to be a long conversation, but something that makes you comfortable and helps take the mind off of your anxiety.
12. Make a plan for the responsibilities at your home while you go on your solo trip
Some women travellers get anxious at the thought of leaving their kids, family, or pets behind while they go away for about a week or so.
If you are married and have kids, solo travelling may not be easy. Sure enough, you might have other people to take care of your house when you are gone. But usually, the thought of leaving your loved ones will bug you when you go on your trip. For this, I would say that you make appropriate plans to take care of your home while you are away.
If you are worried about your pet being alone, getting a pet sitter or leaving your pet at a shelter home for a few days would help keep you distracted.
13. Keep a rough list of your past travel accomplishments handy and read it when you get anxious
If you are someone who is scared of getting on a roller coaster but have overcome that fear on one of your previous solo trips, write it down. Write down every little accomplishment of yours from your past travels. It does not necessarily have to be a big one. Anything that you were scared of is good.
Now, when you go on your solo trip and start to get anxious, take out that list and go through it. This will help you calm down when you are freaking out. I have done it, and I can assure you that this little list will calm you down in just a few minutes!
You can write these accomplishments down in your travel notebook or your smartphone. I would suggest that you use your smartphone for it, in case you forget to carry your notebook along with you!
14. Consider medications
If other ways to tackle anxiety do not work in your cases, I would suggest that you consult with a physician and take medications for anxiety.
Sometimes, natural remedies to recover from something do not work, and it is completely okay to take the medical route. However, make sure that you only take the medications when there is no other option left for you to overcome your solo travel anxiety.
15. Take a break if needed
I understand that solo trips usually last for a maximum of ten days. And visiting a foreign destination and wanting to squeeze in every possible thing you have wanted to do there may be what you might have planned. But if something triggers your anxiety, it is okay to take a step back and relax. You can even take a day off or a break from what you had planned.
You can have room service bring your food to your room, and just relax, watch TV, listen to music, read a book, or sleep. Anything that would make you comfortable and relaxed!
So, these are some of the things that I have learnt over the years to tackle my solo travel anxiety. I hope you find these tips helpful for your first or next solo trip! While it is important to prioritise your mental health, it is equally important to stop thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ and have fun on your vacation!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.