Afraid to Travel Alone

Travel Feels

Why I’m afraid to travel alone

I’m not entirely sure when it happened to me. I’d never had an issue doing things alone, whether that was building forts as a kid, joining after school clubs or walking into the university bar in my first week. I’ve always been fairly confident, but as I’ve got older I’ve shied away from solo activity.

When I’ve had to stay somewhere for work alone I’ve grabbed an M&S meal deal and eaten it from my bed. When I’ve been attending a party I’ve always followed after my friends instead of striding in first. I deplore networking events. And I hate being the first to arrive at a meeting in a cafe. The one public solo activity I’ve indulged in happily has been trips to the cinema where it is dark and I’m not expected to make small talk with strangers.

I never did the travel thing in my teens or early twenties. The confidence you get from backpacking your way round the world and constantly meeting new people was never mine to experience. I met my husband at 23 and have been one half of something ever since. Don’t get me wrong we have a pretty independent relationship but it doesn’t naturally lead to solo activity.

At age 20 I developed a sudden, irrational fear of flying which although has dissipated, gives me pause for thought and makes me afraid to travel alone. Worst of all, when discussing the idea of solo travel with those closest to me, the puzzled look on their faces gives me even more reason to jack the whole idea in, their questioning voices in my head.

My name is Sam, I’m 33 and I’m afraid to travel alone.

But this cannot continue. I have a thirst for travel that isn’t matched by my husband, family and friends. I want to visit weird capital cities that no one wants to bother with. I’m stubborn and forthright and I want to see these places my way, on my terms. The only way I get to see all of the world I want to, is to go it alone.

Emboldened by my recent city breaks around Europe, where I’ve been fully in the driving seat and have booked, planned and executed the whole trip, I’ve started to consider a solo trip in Europe.

But I’m plagued with fear.

  • Will everyone stare if I eat alone?
  • Will I be safe as a solo female traveller?
  • Will I get bored or lonely?
  • What if no one can understand me?
  • What if I hate it?

These questions and more swirl round in my head on the regular. But in 2017 I’m silencing the fear and going it alone anyway. I’m planning a trip in April 2017 for a weekend alone seeing somewhere new. I might afraid to travel alone, but I’m determined not to let it hold me back.

If you have any tips for me, then please do share them in the comments! (And if you are looking for solo travel advice then check out the brilliant Pack Your Passport).


Solo Travel | Female Travel | Travel Tips | City Breaks

Solo Travel | Female Travel | Travel Tips | City Breaks

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  • It can be so hard! I actually prefer flying alone – with my fear of flying I’m generally able to hold myself together a bit more! Definitely give it a go and see what happens – some people don’t like solo travel and that’s okay too!

  • I totally get it; I’ve never travelled alone and the thought fills me with dread. I hate doing stuff on my own! Have you read Yes and Yes? She has some great stuff on solo lady travel, too, which almost convinces me that I’d be okay!

  • Stephanie Fox

    I’m exactly the same but havent built up the courage to book anything just yet! I travel alone with work and I’m fine, but think on a personal trip I’d be fine through the days its the evenings that worry me! Will definitely be following your trip in April cant wait to see how you get on.

  • Charlie Elliott

    I’ve done a lot of solo travel, and weirdly, I now think I actually prefer it too. But my reasoning for going was similar to yours; I figured that if no one would come with me then I wouldn’t go at all and that was even worse than going alone! The eating alone thing is a bit odd at first, but just take a book with you and you’ll be fine. You’ll be safe as long as you have your wits about you as you always would have anyway, and I always make sure that I’m back in my hotel at a decent time, have my hotel address written down in a local language, and have data on my phone so I can get in touch with home if I need to. As for being lonely, I actually wrote a post on how to make friends when travelling solo recently; I’d highly recommend booking a tour on a short trip, just to have some conversation with people!
    You’ll have a great time, I’m sure!

  • These were my exact fears a year ago when I was contemplating booking my first solo holiday. But I booked a week in Slovenia, tackled it head on, and actually had an amazing time doing exactly what I wanted and enjoying being in my own head. I even managed to have some good experiences eating alone – my advice is to take a book or notepad so you have something to do if you start feeling self conscious!
    ~ Kate


    Good for you for facing your fears and finally traveling alone! I’m sure your experience will open up new doors and give you the confidence you need to step even further out of your comfort zone. Happy solo travels!

  • Mihaela Lica Butler

    You are strong to face your fears – I wish I knew what tips to give you, but in all honesty… I am clueless. I am not afraid of solo travels, actually I preferred them when I was younger. Now I am afraid of living my husband and child alone. I guess, with time, we develop new fears as we conquer old ones. The best thing to do to move forward is facing these fears. I can hardly wait to read about your solo adventure in April!

  • Where are you headed in April? It’s great that you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Not everyone has to enjoy or embrace solo travel – personally I prefer traveling with friends/family/my partner! Nevertheless, all the best with your upcoming trip! Maybe you can try to meet like minded fellow travelers on the road 🙂

  • Yvette Morrissey

    Go you! I’m a solo traveller currently in Canada and it takes balls to go off on your own adventures. It’s tough but there are also really lovely moments of self reflection you wouldn’t otherwise get if you stayed at home or travelled with others. Solo travel is the best way to learn about yourself. Good luck 🙂

  • Veronika

    I have never had a problem with travelling solo, but it is always more fine when you have someone to go with. I think travelling with others will push you do more things and stuff you would not try on your own. So I totally understand your point here 🙂

  • travelwithtarah

    I have to admit I was a bit nervous to travel alone at first too! After my first trip solo, I realized that it’s not as scary as I built it up to be! It definitely forced me to get out of my comfort zone a bit, but I am so happy I did!

  • Ellis Veen

    I travel alone most of the times. My first solo travel was when I was 23 to India. Wouldn’t recommend India as a first destination for solo travellers, but at the other hand I learned so much during that trip. To answer some of your questions. Most of the times people dont stare at you when you eat alone, altough in India people do stare at you. Whether you are alone or not. I have always felt safe wherever I went, but I don’t take unnecessary risksa either. I am not walking alone at night and always follow my instincts. If something doesnt feel right, it probably isnt right and I leave the situation. Sometimes it does get a bit boring and lonely, but when travelling it is quite easy to meet new people. In fact, it is more easy I noticed compared to travelling with someone else. Good luck on your first journey alone and I hope you will like it.

  • I’ve experienced traveling alone twice and that was it. It’s not something I’m comfortable doing. I still feel secure when I’m with my family and my husband. As I grow older, I don’t have any plans of traveling solo. For me to be able to enjoy the place is to have somebody to share it with. 🙂

    Joy |

  • Dariel Lim

    I’ve done a few short solo travels in the last few years. If you are unsure in the beginning, join a local day tour or some sort of activities which involve other people, like cooking class or guided tour. That should help you to ease in to traveling more independently.

  • Young And Undecided

    Sam! Yes! This is me! My bucketlist for this year was to try and go on weekend trips to Europe on my own. Baby steps into the solo travel world. When I tell my parents about it, the reaction I get is similar to yours. “Why? What are you trying to prove? Just go for a weekend away in Scotland, it doens’t have to be abroad” Yes I get it. And I also get that no everyone feels the need to travel. But I do. And I don’t want my shyness or intorversion to stop me from being able to do that! I’m happy you are going at it alone! I’m sure you will have an amazing times! x

  • Hey Sam, If you ask me Solo travel has its own advantage as compare to travelling with friends and families. Sometimes I want to stay at some site for hours, just to admire it. But that will be quite difficult otherwise. I am sure that 2017 will be an awesome year for you and I will suggest you to visit India this year. You will have an unique experience.

  • Oh good luck to you girl. Hopefully your April trip will open doors and opportunities for you to bring out a braver personality of yourself. One thing you should think about when you’re traveling alone is you’re never really alone. You can be as anonymous as you want but you’re always surrounded by people who can actually become your friends at some point. 🙂 All the best!

  • Natasha Atlas

    So different to other solo travel blogs I read! Very honest! Good luck on to you! Natasha Atlas

  • Wow. I love the honesty. I applaud that. Your writing is very engaging and I can’t wait to follow along with your solo journey. There will be really hard days and I think it’s okay to see if you like it or if you don’t! Just let in unfold <3

  • Hey there….no one really cares about what you do alone. I find myself more at ease when I am alone. I can spend as much time at a place, take as many pics….eat when I want and sleep as per my whims…it is fun in a way. Just try a short trip and you should be good.

  • My name is Rhiannon, I’m 24 and I’m afraid to travel in any way except alone!
    Honestly girl, it sounds scary to begin with but I hand on heart tell you that it’ll be one of the greatest things you ever do! Even if it turns out that you don’t enjoy it, at least you can say you tried AND the sense of pride and achievement you’ll get is awesome.
    As for your questions – will everyone stare if you eat alone? Probably. Maybe. But then I always think what’s to stop people staring if you weren’t eating alone too? I work as a waitress and I constantly have to stop myself staring at tables wondering what the relationship between the patrons is! And if you take a book to read or something else to occupy yourself with you won’t even notice anyone looking at you! Also, dress up quite nicely, take a little notebook and the waiters will be second guessing whether you’re a food critic/reviewer so will treat you extra nice. Tried and tested!
    Will you be safe? Depends on where you go really, but as long as you keep your wits about you and act as you would alone in any British city, you should be absolutely fine. I’ve been to 20+ countries alone including Venezuela and India, and honestly? London scares me the most.
    Will you get bored or lonely? Honestly, yes you will. But it’ll pass.
    What if no one can understand you? Ease yourself in somewhere where either English is widely spoken or is a big tourist destination (e.g. basically anywhere in Europe!) and it’ll get easier from there! Also, those little pocket-sized phrasebooks Lonely Planet do are bloody amazing!
    What if you hate it? Well, what if you don’t? But you won’t know either way until you try!
    Sorry for the absolute monster of a comment but encouraging more women to get out there alone is kind of my favourite thing! Travelling solo is so empowering and just the BEST feeling. I’m so excited for your April trip and can’t wait to read all about it!

  • Adventurous Travels

    Traveling alone is not dangerous and no one will stare at you when you eat alone… But, it can be boring. Admiring amazing places without anyone to talk about and share your experiences might be a downside to venturing alone. Also, it sucks a bit if those close to you don’t share your passion. But don’t let that stop you! We have only one life. You said you like to visit weird capitals no one bothers to go to – Have a look at Tbilisi, Yerevan, Kiev, Skopje and smaller fairy-tale towns like Gjirokaster, Mostar, Dubrovnik. They are all WAY safer than London or Paris, even at nighttime (I’m talking of course about the city centers, not some dodgy areas that are present in every city). You will be shocked how amazing, beautiful, unique and inspiring such places are. The best thing about them is that, because of lack of exposure in the media, when we visit them, it’s a never ending surprise, like exploring a different world 🙂

  • Katharine O’Malley

    Maybe practice being alone for the time being, make yourself comfortable in your own skin and doing some of what you’re fearing like eating out alone. Start small everyday, nothing big, I guess. I enjoy eating out on my own from time to time. You’ll be amazed at how no one seems to care. From there, hopefully some of your fears will dissipated and be ready to take a short trip on your own away from your place or hometown. And goodluck!

  • christopher mitchell

    I really appreciate the honesty with which you approach this post! I can see what makes you worried about travelling alone, but it’s also such a rewarding experience, at times. Anyway, nicely done!

  • Jacky

    Thanks for your honest post! I moved for my exchange year, but that is the most independent thing I’ve ever done. Now with my boyfriend I hardly go anywhere alone, so the thought of travelling alone just doesn’t sit right with me!

    Jacky ?

  • I feel you. I just generally hate doing thing alone, no matter what they are. But, travel has almost always been a solo activity for me. It has been really hard for me to find people who want to (or are able to) travel around the world at a moment’s notice. This is understandable of course. Despite my despair for going it alone, I head out into the world anyway and get the experience. I have had some crazy experiences, not all of them positive, but I have never regretted getting out and experiencing the world. I hope you are able to do the same in 2017!

  • Mango Lady Diaries

    I can totally understand you and this is one very honest post! I had faced this phase in my teens where I was completely against going somewhere alone even though I have been an independent girl. I am pretty sure you will overcome your fears on your solo trip. Best wishes and more power to you 🙂

  • I completely understand your reasons Sam, and some of them are true for me – especially about befing first for meeting and watch a movie in a dark cinema. But it all changes when I travel alone…I don’t always talk so much to people, but I do talk a lot internally. I am sure you will keep evolving in life and things will change if you write this same article two years from now. Happy travels 🙂

  • Nastja

    Really good article you have here! I was afraid at the beginning too, but once you do it, it just goes away! You go girl, you can do it!

  • While I would say those are valid fears, it’s mostly in the mind — apart from safety, of course! There are definitely places that are best to visit with someone and not as a solo female traveller. Always do your research so you will be armed with knowledge of best things to do, best areas for solo travellers, what areas to avoid, etc. Always be vigilant and just have fun exploring!

  • Nicholas Danis Bertrand

    I can understand where this fear comes from but you will win and gain so much confidence from travelling alone.Remember, it’s all in the mind.Travelling alone is not dangerous but I think it can be a bit boring at times.I traveled alone around the world for five years and although I really loved it, I find it a bit sad now that I can’t talk about those memories with someone who shared the trip with me.

  • A Woman Afoot

    Great post, Sam! We are all different and it is quite important to understand our own fears, worries and needs – and be OK with them, accept them. I am scared of some aspects of solo travel, but the idea of traveling with someone else (especially someone who is not extremely close to me, but just a friend) scares me even more. I’m an extreme introvert with social phobias and people scare me 😉 I feel free and confident and relaxed only when I’m alone. I can’t be fully relaxed wiht other people – even close family members. I am anxious when I travel, but mostly when around strangers/people – and dont’ worry about the language thing. I just returned from Catalonia where English is not well known and I know nothing of Spanish or Catalan. With some hand gestures and google translate app I survived 😉
    I think some anxiety and worry is fine – it help us stay alert and smart about our way/surroundings.
    Warm regards,
    Ioanna (A Woman Afoot)

  • Bisa

    One thing that helps me is to have a plan when I travel solo. I try not to have too rigid a schedule but if I know if have a food or city tour planned it will get me out of my room. I sometimes find someone else who is traveling alone or I end up talking to couples.
    That is great your starting off with a weekend.
    The question isn’t if your fears will happen.
    It’s how you handle it if it does.

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