My experiences, and choice, to solo travel often comes up in conversation. Inherently there are a collection of different responses. Ranging from “glad I don’t have a daughter” exclamations to eager questions of practically, solo traveling tends to invoke an emotional response. Undoubtedly questions about fear dominate all others, “Weren’t your parents scared? Weren’t you scared?”, and as common as these questions may be they continue to make me pause and think. Why is it that fear is the most common underlining theme? Furthermore, why do people automatically assume that I wouldn’t have gone had I been scared?
I want to be real with you. The first time I went on a solo trip I was terrified. In the months leading up to my trip to Southeast Asia I unintentionally emotionally detached myself. To feel the emotions would have been to acutely feel my fear. To this day I’m not sure I would have gone on the trip had I not bought a non-refundable ticket. I cried so hard in the airport saying goodbye to my dad the airport security employee tired to console me while checking my passport.
When I arrived in Bangkok and attempted to find my hostel at 12 in the night, I spent most of the time hyperventilating.
To stifle my fear back into something manageable during my first few days at the hostel I repeated ” I can spend the whole trip in the hostel. I don’t have to leave” over and over.
The entire first month of my trip, every time I traveled from one location to the next I had to fight the panic rising in my chest the entire time.
These days I no longer carry much fear with me as I travel. This experience of exploring on my own no longer holds that same acute terror of the unknown I originally felt when stepping on my plane to Thailand, but I am incredibly grateful for all that fear showed me. But I digress.
So in answer to all of the people who have wondered or asked, yes I was scared. For any who have asked or wondered because they too have thought of traveling solo it’s o.k. to be scared. Frankly, I would be surprised if you didn’t carry fear in the pit of your stomach or the hallow of your chest. Use that fear to remind you that you are indeed human. You are not alone in that fear; it does not mean you should not leave. Let it help give you the clarity and the mindset for the amazing experience you are about to embark on.