This has probably happened to me once or twice in the times I’ve decided to take a solo trip out of town or out of the country: A few hours before the trip I freeze and think to myself, “Should I go? Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe it’s not safe. Maybe I should plan this trip with friends instead.” The seeds of doubt never stay for too long. The solo traveler in me comes out and any feelings of apprehension are promptly replaced with excitement, that longing for adventure at the pit of my stomach is awakened, and I always come home tired but happy I decided to push through with it.
If that little voice of doubt has been bringing you down, here are 6 solo travel reminders to help you overcome the fear of going it alone:
1. Make sure someone has you contact information and itinerary. Give your parents, your best friend, or a sibling your itinerary along with the address and contact information for the hotels, hostels, and B&Bs you’ll be staying at for the duration of your trip. In case something happens to you or something big happens at home, they know where to reach you. Also, keeping a favorite number on your phone always works, just in case you get into a scuff and strangers need to call home for you.
2. Make copies of your passport, visas, identity cards, licences, and other important paperwork. You never know what kerfuffles may just ruin your vacation – keeping a thumb drive with all your important documents kept somewhere on your person at all times is a big help when, let’s say, you accidentally lose your passport on the tube in London or you forget your license at home. Actually, keeping an electronic copy of all your important documents is a good idea to do at home, too.
3. Make the most of your social network. The internet superhighway has definitely brought everyone closer together! Check in on Facebook when you have the chance to let your friends know where you are. Just keep the #humblebrag to a minimum, only your mom can appreciate your #blessed posts. When offline, try to get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with the locals or a fellow traveler and make new friends that you can promptly add on Facebook.
4. Magazines will only get you so far – bring a book or download your favorite podcast. I never appreciated owning a Kindle until I got stuck on a 10-hour bus ride to CamSur and couldn’t sleep the entire time. I spent most of it listening to a podcast by Kelly-Ann Maddox, one of my favorite tarot teachers, and totally immersed in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose when I wanted to sink my teeth into a deliciously beautiful and imaginative piece of reading (because my phone’s battery was running low, mostly).
5. Celebrate the peace and quiet. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy solo travel is the solitude. It is really nice to be alone with your thoughts for a while and just retreat into yourself and get to know you better. It may sound like all sorts of woo-woo now, but believe me, when you experience that serene quiet for yourself, you’ll keep wanting more and more time to yourself to put things in perspective.
6. Do whatever the hell you want to do. Don’t want to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to watch the Kiltepan sunrise? No problem. Want to sleep early instead of drinking ’til you can’t tell what time it is? Go right ahead. Want to skip the museums and spend the rest of the afternoon shopping? Yaaas! The great thing about solo travel is you don’t have to compromise with your traveling companions on what to do – you make your itinerary and can start as late as you want and end the day as early as you want. No pressure!
Whether you plan on swimming with the whale sharks in Donsol or taking a long-awaited surf trip to Siargao, doing it on your own isn’t as scary as it seems. For the most part, your loved ones will probably be a lot more fearful and fuss over you which is sweet, but also really annoying. Promise to text and call every now and then to send them updates of your trip and go on your merry way! The most important tip of all for the solo traveler: Have fun!