Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

“Don’t you get scared? Travelling alone?”

The girl from Paris spears a piece of pineapple as she looks towards me, across a table groaning with freshly cooked food. Outside, the sounds of Havana’s streets ricochet from one crumbling balcony to another, caught in the billowing folds of hanging laundry.

I smile, mentally preparing the phrases I’ve used so many times before.

“Of course – I mean, there’s a chance you’ll feel a bit lonely at times – but it’s fine really.” Check one. “You meet more people travelling solo than when you’re with your friends.” Check two. “And besides, if you want to travel somewhere then that should be enough reason for you to do it. You don’t always need someone with you to feel confident.” Check three.

Strong words. Supportive words. Just the kind of reassurance a nervous traveller needs when they’ve made the jump; when they’ve bought the ticket, boarded the plane, arrived in a foreign place and suddenly realised they have absolutely no clue what they’re doing.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

It was Natasha’s first time away from home by herself. She had a friend who was working in Havana so was sorted for companionship at the weekends – but during the week, she was alone in Cuba.

And she wanted me to tell her exactly what she was in for.

 My confession about travelling alone

Most people usually look sad and confused when I tell them I travel solo. It’s got such a negative reputation: the idea that you must either have no friends or you’re ok with willingly putting yourself in danger.

“There’s simply nothing like travelling by yourself,” I wrote in answer to a recent interview question, filled with the passion I’ve always had for travel. “The freedom of striding out along your own path, with nobody dictating what you can or cannot do – it’s extremely liberating, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

And yet.

In the back of my mind, there are still the nights I don’t talk about. The ones when I’ve reached my hotel, barricaded the door and not left again for the next twenty four hours. Overwhelmed and terrified by the thought of having to relearn a network of streets from scratch yet again; to deal with being stared at, misunderstood and pitied by complete strangers; to embarrass myself when I can’t speak the language; and to feel like the world is passing me by without a second glance.

And then I compound the problem further by feeling guilty about how pathetic I’m being.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

In Alain de Botton’s ‘The Art of Travel’, he makes the point that we aren’t automatically happier by virtue of being abroad. We don’t become different people, either: there isn’t a magic button that makes us suddenly funnier, more impulsive, more daring, or more confident.

Wherever we are in the world, we are still ourselves. Even if we’re on a foreign street filled with palm trees and food carts, we’ll always have to accept being who we are.

Warts and all.

So why should I travel if it makes me scared?

I get a lot of emails from readers asking how they’re supposed to travel. They’re concerned about their safety in particular parts of the world; how hard it’s going to be to make friends; the fact that their original travel partner has bailed and now they don’t want to go alone.

Ultimately, they’re scared, and I sometimes get the feeling that they’re looking for a magic solution. One that I and many other independent female travel writers must have stumbled upon: the solution to constant, on-the-road happiness.

I want to dispel that myth – for me, at least. Because guess what? Even though I write a website about being a strong, solo, empowered female traveller, I get scared too.

All the damn time.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

Part of it is having an overactive imagination. More doubts and concerns occur to me as I grow older, and there are days when I’m battling my way through dozens of them while simultaneously trying to explore a new country.

I know some of my fellow travellers really don’t suffer from any fear, doubts, or sense of uncertainty – and my hat comes off to you – but I think it’s extremely important to not cast others in an unattainable light. Too often, it feels like travel bloggers are bestowed with an entirely ‘different’ ability to travel: the idea that ‘they must be different from me, because I feel scared and small and alone when I think about travelling, and I probably won’t ever do those amazing-looking things because I’m sure I’d fall at the first hurdle’.

The truth is that travelling can definitely be scary. Regardless of how much you do it.

What you have to learn is how to embrace that fear and travel anyway, regardless of all those things you’re scared of. Because, just like with anything in life, you eventually pick yourself up, learn a little lesson or two and continue on your way.

This is what I’ve learnt about dealing those travelling fears.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

1. I’m scared I won’t meet people or make friends

At heart, I’m an introvert. I love being by myself (which is clearly a useful aspect of travelling solo!) but the prospect of never having people around brings me out in a cold sweat.

There are times when I’ve sat in a black mood, having not spoken to anyone in a friendly manner for a good few days, and questioned what on earth I’m doing. It doesn’t help that the group of cool kids in the hostel common room have formed an impenetrable clique and are clearly having the time of their lives together, either.

Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

[Photo courtesy of Backpacker Banter]

People always say, ‘it’s easy to make friends when you travel!’ but there are still barriers you might face. Maybe you don’t feel cool enough, maybe you simply don’t click with anyone around you. That’s fine.

It’s all about choice.

Staying in hostels is one way to meet people – chatting in the kitchen or in your dorm room – but for others, it’s signing up for a language exchange, or unashamedly striking up conversation with taxi drivers and market stall owners.

My secret weapon is to get involved in volunteer projects in most of the countries I visit. Apart from being able to learn tons more about that place and its culture, it also gives me a legitimate and dedicated reason to be there, and usually means a guaranteed group of new people to talk to.

And there’s quite a few unexpected perks as a result.

Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

2. I’m scared about getting myself in dangerous situations

Stories of mugging, rapes, losing your passport or running out of money – hell, even working out how to look out for your luggage when you go to the bathroom! There’s no doubt that travelling by yourself brings a slew of possible dangers with it.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a lot of fears and worries that I didn’t have as a teenager. I’m more alert to dangerous situations and often think I’m going to fall down the stairs. I inwardly panic on rocky bus rides and have to repeat little calming mantras to myself whenever there’s airplane turbulence.

But for some reason, I also willingly throw myself out of a plane from time to time. I trek for three days in the Peruvian mountains, coping with horse-broken collarbones as a result, and I sign up for a month of walking in Spain (which I don’t think my feet are ever going to forgive me for). What’s that about?

Simple. I’ve learnt to trust my gut.

It reads most situations better than my head does. That taxi driver who smiles a bit too eagerly; that shady hostel at the end of a too-dark street; that plate of delicious-looking fresh fruit with a few too many flies buzzing around it; trust yourself, and trust that you’re making the right decision.

Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

Danger is relative, too. I’d never trust myself with a machete in normal life, but being abroad makes you more daring and have more faith in your own abilities to learn and be receptive to new ideas.

And as for your health? Although it’s a terrifying prospect, getting sick when travelling literally makes you stronger. Not to mention the stories about horrific foreign bathrooms are always hilarious and make for ideal hostel banter.

3. I’m scared of missing out

Arriving in a new destination with little more than a guidebook usually makes you desperate to tick off the ‘right’ things. Except you often don’t know what those are – and it can be stressful.

Give yourself a break! It’s impressive enough that you chose to travel at all. Nobody’s going to judge you for not hitting every single tourist attraction (and if they do, tell them to shut up).

Besides, some of my most memorable travel moments have been completely unplanned: whether it’s an impromptu street festival in Bolivia, wandering a fruit market in Southern India or a night spent in a giant hammock above the Colombian jungle.

Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

Missing home and the people you’ve left behind is a constant worry, too. There’s a deep seated fear that eventually my London-based friends will forget about me, or I’ll simply stop being important to them because I’m never around to make an impact.

At times, it’s proved too much and I’ve flown to London to be reunited with my loved ones. But for the most part, the real friendships I’m blessed with are strong enough to withstand a bit of distance. Never underestimate the value of Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp, either!

4. I’m scared I won’t know what to do once I get there

You never really know what’s waiting for you outside those sliding airport doors. For some, the tangibility of that unknown world is exhilarating and wonderful; for others, it’s simply overwhelming.

They feel vulnerable, scared and suddenly rather small.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

So if you find yourself roaming without direction in a foreign place, give yourself a purpose.

For me, it’s this website. Writing and photographing everything around me for the last three years, knowing I’ll channel it into articles for people to read who I’ve never met: that’s given me a huge push to go and explore, even on those days when I haven’t felt inspired to get out of bed, much less to actively traverse a country on my own.

Find a passion to pursue, regardless of where you are. It puts a fresh spin on every activity and colours your experiences – and allows you to indulge in the pastimes you might have ignored in your normal life. If you love dancing, take a local class. Sit on a park bench and do some sketching, even if you haven’t drawn in years. Wander through a food market and ask the local vendors how to cook a traditional dish.

Do something that makes you happy, and let that dictate the way you travel, instead of just relying on the guidebook.

5. I’m scared of feeling lonely & being alone

The scale of what it means to travel solo is pretty wide. You can be travelling alone as part of a tour group or in a spontaneous collection of other hostel-frequenters you’ve picked up along the way. I’m not judging the method, or the terminology – but there’s a huge difference between travelling ‘solo’ (i.e. hanging out with a ton of people who quickly become your friends), and actively being alone.

Taking transport alone, touring a strange place alone, eating alone, sleeping alone: one after another, these all take their toll in a way that barely registers if you have the simple addition of human companionship.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

It happened to me in Cuba.

Hours after my conversation with the French girl in Havana, I’d arrived by myself in the tiny town of Viñales to a cacophony of shouting women, eagerly flapping name cards and laminated photos of their houses. I’d located Elsa, the owner of my night’s accommodation, and as we walked to her house, I asked her how many other guests she had staying with her that night.

“Nobody! Just me and my husband are here,” she said, beaming happily.

I ate my dinner alone: seven different plates of food laid out in front of me and a Kindle for companionship. Breakfast was the same.

Within hours I’d realised a cold, hard truth. I was totally alone in Cuba – and I didn’t feel strong and supported by my own company like I’d hoped. Instead, I just felt small, tired, and lonely.

But then I went walking through the countryside around Viñales, my hair a frizzy mess, my face smeared with sweat and suncream. I encountered more cows and mud puddles than people, took photos, wrote notes about my trip, chattered away to myself, and realised I was really enjoying my day. Alone, and happy about it!

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

I met a man in Colombia who was writing a book on loneliness versus being alone, particularly when traveling. “They’re just so different,” he said. “And the problem we often have is inadvertently mistaking one for the other. ‘I’m alone,’ we think, a few hours or days into being by ourselves, ‘and I feel so damn lonely.’

But actually, being truly alone is sometimes exactly what you need. It’s the place where you get to know yourself the most, learning who you are and what makes you intrinsically, wonderfully, uniquely you.

Learning to love yourself without the need for anyone else’s validation – and making that discovery? That’s a truly valuable thing.

The lessons you’ll learn from being scared to travel – and doing it anyway

Since I began travelling by myself, there have been times when I’ve felt sadder, smaller and more alone than at most other points in my life. But those moments are completely eclipsed by the times when I feel an incredible sense of pride at learning how to cope with the world on my own.

It could be the smallest thing, like successfully navigating a city’s bus system using only my wits and the kind words of strangers; or the most useful thing, like slowly picking up a new language; or the most rewarding thing, like making a long-lasting friendship cemented by an adrenaline-fuelled travelling lifestyle.

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

But the biggest payout? I know myself, implicitly, explicitly and everything in between. I can’t repeat it enough: I KNOW MYSELF – and I like the person I am.

I’ve learned not to feel guilty for indulging in the things I want – spending a long afternoon in a cafe with a book, even though a local tourist attraction was just a ten minute walk away; paying for the more expensive room or transport option, even though the ‘traveller’ thing is to slum it and earn cool points by doing so.

I’ve been my sole source of companionship at breathtaking sunsets and during unbearably sweaty bus rides with men refusing to stop staring. My inner monologue and my frantic diary scribbles has been my only means of entertainment for hours and days and weeks on end.

And amazingly enough, I haven’t driven myself crazy. On the flip side: I’ve come out of it stronger, happier, and more comfortable in my own skin.

In summary, then…

So yes: I may look a bit like a fearless explorer on the outside, but inside I’m still worried that I won’t make friends, that I’ll get myself hopelessly lost, and that I’ll end up regretting my decisions.

What’s different about me is that I have a huge amount of memories that tell me otherwise – and they’ve all come from travelling.

I’ve met people in hostels, on beaches and in bars all around the world who’ve become some of my closest friends. I’ve learnt that getting lost without a map invariably means being led home by a succession of helpful locals. And I’ve never once regretted a decision I’ve made when travelling, even though I’ve cried and despaired about what I’m doing at the time.

Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

I haven’t been writing as Flora The Explorer for the last three years to promote the image of being constantly happy, positive and strong (although luckily I do often feel all of those emotions about myself).

Is travelling alone difficult? Yes. Can it be problematic, and worrying, and exhausting? Absolutely. But it’s still worth it. Hell – it’s exactly because of all those things that you should absolutely still do it.

So I get scared sometimes. So bloody what? It makes life a lot more exciting when you battle through it, and come out stronger on the other side.

Now it’s over to you guys! What do you get scared about when you travel? Do you have any tips to make things easier? 

Sometimes I'm Scared to Travel - But That Doesn't Stop Me

Note: there are a couple of affiliate links in this post. They won’t cost you anything to click on, but they do help me out with the running costs for the site.

About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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61 Responses to Sometimes I’m Scared to Travel – But That Doesn’t Stop Me

  1. 1Dad1Kid August 2, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    Thanks for sharing something so raw and open!

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 11:36 am #

      And thanks so much for reading! 🙂

  2. andreasnap August 2, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Great post, Flora! I spent the last nine months travelling with my now ex partner. Unfortunately we’ve gone our separate ways, and I’ve decided I’m going to continue travelling solo for a while. I have to say that while I keep telling everyone I cannot wait for my solo adventure, I do have some nagging fears in the back of my head. Your post, however, has made me realise that it’s fine to feel a bit concerned about what lies ahead, but that ultimately it will be a rewarding experience. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

      You’re more than welcome Andrea! I totally know that feeling – once you’ve got used to having someone else alongside you it can be a bit terrifying to contemplate going off alone again. But you’re right, being worried doesn’t automatically mean you’re unable to do it.

      Best of luck with the solo travels – I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time 🙂

  3. reclaimingyourfuture August 2, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Flora, I needed to read this today – thank you! I’m due to leave Australia in the next couple of weeks to head back to Bali and then on to the Philippines and I keep getting hit with waves of ‘oh dear lord, what the hell are you thinking, you can’t do this’!! Thank you for your honesty 🙂

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      You definitely can do it! Plus I can personally attest to how great the Philippines are – I’m writing an article about my love for those islands as we speak :p

  4. lotuslauren August 2, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    This is wonderful. I’m so pleased to see someone addressing these concerns, they’re very very real.

    I was just thinking about this today, and I was thinking that I’m not really “afraid” in the sense of fearing for my life. The longer I travel, the more I realize that most places in the world outside of war zones, sadly, are safer than my home city of St. Louis when it comes to real threats.

    What I am is intimidated. It’s like social anxiety on a exhausting scale rather than fear, maybe. Sometimes, like you, I arrive in a new place and I’m so overwhelmed I don’t want to leave my new home. Just figuring out which buildings are restaurants or stores, when they’re open, and what the protocol is wears me down, especially if I have no language skills in this new place.

    I absolutely DO get lonely, and I’m finding ways to connect as I go, but I got lonely at home, too, even with tons of friends nearby. Sometimes I don’t do all the things I would do if I had a travel buddy, either. And I have dark, lonely nights, too.

    But real fear – fear that something terribly bad will happen to me – not so much any more. I’m careful, of course, because bad things can happen anywhere. But the world overall has turned out to be a much friendlier place than I expected!

    You’re right, the secret is to do things anyway. Push up against your boundaries, because if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. Especially at my age! (50)

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      Thanks so much for your words, Lauren – feeling intimidated is definitely a large part of it for me, as is social anxiety now I think about it! I often worry that I’m being silently judged by the people around me for a myriad of reasons, when of course they probably couldn’t care less about me!

  5. Clare August 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Love this Flora 🙂 I think the things you describe happen to all of us, however fearless we may seem! I can definitely remember a few occasions when I bolted myself up in a hotel room because the thought of just going outside made me want to crawl under the covers. And it’s such an unknown truth that being alone and loneliness are not the same thing at all – there’s been times when I’ve been beyond content spending a day completely alone and not felt lonely at all, and equally, times when I’ve felt incredibly lonely in the midst of a group of new ‘hostel’ friends because it just reinforces how far away all my ‘home’ friends are. All part of the experience – and as you say, it’s how you learn to know and love the real you.

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

      I’m glad you can empathise, Clare! I do get the impression that many of us feel like this occasionally – and in those situations I think it’s totally acceptable to hide under the covers for a bit 🙂

  6. Kate August 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Thank you for this beautiful and honest post.

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading, Kate!

  7. Lindsay - An Adventure A Week August 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    This is such a fantastically written post – thank you so much for letting me (and all of us!) know that you experience the same fears of stepping out your door into the unknown. I wholeheartedly agree with you that purposefully doing what scares you makes you more well-rounded person. I wish that more people did it – I think it would make for a more compassionate world, for a start. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Flora August 2, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

      There’s a lot to be said for embracing what makes you scared. Glad to hear you agree, Lindsay 🙂

  8. Chris August 2, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    Solo travel is always a bit nerve racking! I’ve been doing it for years and some of those fear never really fade and niggle in your mind, it’s a case of accepting them, managing them and going f*ck it I won’t let them stop me!
    Hopefully cross paths on the road again!

    • Flora August 4, 2015 at 7:17 am #

      All about saying f*ck it :p And you know I’ll be back in Asia as soon as I can manage it, Chris!

  9. Amanda Williams August 2, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    Awesome post! And, even though I, too, may seem like a fearless solo traveler, there are definitely times when I get nervous or lonely! I’m not afraid of traveling alone because I worry about being robbed or kidnapped or anything like that that a lot of non-travelers assume I should be scared of. (Hence why I’ve written a “Why I’m Not Afraid to Travel Alone” post.) BUT there definitely are times when I stress out about navigating new public transport or another foreign language or having to eat yet another meal alone (in fact, I’ve skipped more dinners than I’d like to admit while traveling!) The key, like you said, is to do the things anyway. Because, at the end of the day, you’ll probably never regret that solo trip if the alternative was not going anywhere at all.

    • Flora August 4, 2015 at 7:34 am #

      WHY do we end up skipping dinners?! I’ve done that too often as well 🙂 And it’s probably one of the only things I do end up regretting!

  10. Katie August 3, 2015 at 2:52 am #

    I feel the same way Flora. I usually find I am most scared before I leave to travel but there have definitely been times when I am travelling, alone or with people, that I have felt scared or lonely but I know that things always get better, you just have to be patient

    • Flora August 5, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      Waiting the fears out does seem to help, Katie!

  11. Kara Freedman August 3, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes.

  12. Beth Meyer (@BeMeyer) August 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    Great post, Flora! A very honest and lovely read! 🙂 x

    • Flora August 4, 2015 at 7:36 am #

      Aww thank you so much Beth!! Glad you enjoyed it my love 🙂

  13. Chris August 4, 2015 at 3:21 am #

    I will revisit this wonderful post before my next trip! This may sound weird but mostly I am just scared about traveling in cities because I am like a fish out of water in a city. I live in a rural area and a spend lot of time in the woods because of my work. So busy city streets and public transportation are a whole different world to me and I don’t know how to navigate them as well as I can navigate through a forest with a compass and a backpack. In a city I become daunted by the noise and the traffic and the crush of people. So my initial travels have been to places in the tropics or in Canada where I can be around forests and mountains and lakes and look for wildlife. But now I am starting to explore Europe and I admit I am daunted. I went to Amsterdam alone recently and managed to figure out the public transportation to some degree. I honestly think I was more brave because I went alone then I might have been if I had gone with my partner because I think I would have left the details of figuring out the logistics to him instead of figuring it out for myself. Knowing I had to go it alone seemed to ignite a certain determination that I did not know I had. That was a good feeling.

    • Flora August 4, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      That doesn’t sound weird at all, Chris – I grew up in London but big foreign cities still freak me out, too. It’s often really hard to get your bearings and you know how easily one wrong turn on a bus can take you somewhere entirely off the map, and that’s completely daunting.

      Huge congratulations for going it alone in Amsterdam! One of the biggest battles – and thus greatest achievements – is successfully managing the public transit in any new place. And I’ll also mention that London’s transport system is pretty easy for foreigners to navigate 🙂

  14. adventureliesinfront August 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    ‘The cool kids in the hostel are all having a good time’- this has been life a few times I have to say!

    This is so beautifully writing and completely honest. I’ve struggled with all of these things myself and it is good to know I’m not alone. The worst thing for me is struggling my guilt for having a crappy travel day- like come on Britt you have this amazing opportunity to be in this place others might not have- enjoy it’. But I’ve been able to work through that and not feel guilty about spending a whole day in my hostel bed watching movies if it means it will rejuvenate me.

    It is about 110 days until I set off for 15 months of travel- a trip I’ve been planning, working and saving towards for more than 2 years now. As it draws closer I don’t just feel a sense of excitement but also a deep sense of terror. What if I’ve made the wrong decision? What if I hate it after a month? How am I going to cope without my family for more than a year? But I’ve learnt to embrace the worries and fear- it’s part of the long term travel experience for me at least. The best thing I can do is not let it eat me inside to the point that it affects that travel dream.

    • Flora August 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      How awesome that you’ve got a countdown of 110 days! Obviously 15 months feels like such a huge stretch of time and you theoretically have no clue how it’s all going to be – but I’m certain you’ll have a fantastic time, even if there are blips of feeling homesick or sad every now and again 🙂

  15. Kristine August 5, 2015 at 4:34 am #

    I’m working towards plans of travelling solo longer-term and this cannot be anymore apt. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to read the rest of your entries =)

    • Flora August 5, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

      I’m so glad you found it at the right time, Kristine! Hope you enjoy the rest of my writings 🙂

  16. Caroline Eubanks August 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    I feel the same way! Lovely post.

    • Flora August 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

      Thanks so much lovely!

  17. Melissa August 8, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    I defnitely never feel cool enough in a hostel. Mainly, I think because I’m generally older (at 36) than the typical hostel guests. I think deep down I worry they’re going to think I’m old and weird for staying there. 😛

    • Flora August 24, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      I think hostels are such a good training ground for building up your confidence! Plus you usually find that once you attempt to chat to those ‘cool kids’ they end up being pretty friendly :p

  18. Lucy Smith August 11, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Great advice and as usual such a beautifully written post! The pros of travel are always far greater than the cons and in the end you always wonder why you worried. That’s before you find yourself getting scared all over gain for the next trip. It’s a vicious awesome cycle!

    • Flora August 24, 2015 at 8:32 am #

      “An awesome vicious cycle” – I love it! Thanks so much for the kind words too, Lucy 🙂

  19. Phoebe August 14, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    Loved this post flora, there’s so much truth and inspiration in everything you’ve said 🙂 phoebs x

    • Flora August 24, 2015 at 8:42 am #

      Aww Phoebs!! Thanks so much my lovely 🙂

  20. Leigh August 15, 2015 at 1:52 am #

    What a great, thought-provoking post! My fear? Flying, believe it or not! It’s good to be scared every once in a while, though. I especially love the Georgia O’Keefe post. I may just have to use that one!

    • Flora August 24, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      It’s a quote I really love – glad it resonates with you as well, Leigh!

  21. Daniela Frendo @ Grumpy Camel August 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this.

    I always worry about things going wrong for me on a trip, even when I’m not travelling alone. Sometimes I wonder whether I’m a bit too wary of strangers, but travel has taught me that there are many kind people in this world – you just have to use your gut instinct to trust the right individuals.

    • Flora August 24, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      It’s all about the gut, Daniela :p

  22. Francis Tapon August 25, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    My problem in West/Central Africa is that I’m never alone even when I want to travel alone.
    In Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and the Congos, there were always people happy to be my friend, even when I wanted peace and quiet.

    I picked up 2000 hitchhikers in the last 2.5 years in West/Central Africa. I camped outside half the time.

    Now that I’m in Southern Africa, it’s a joke how safe/civilized it is.

    People need to worry less and travel more.
    Don’t be a wimp.

    I’m looking forward to Somalia and North Africa! 🙂

  23. Jordan August 25, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Some wonderful points here. Travelling alone has a lot of fun benefits, but it IS pretty scary sometimes. It’s learning to overcome that fear that can make a trip a memorable one. Thanks for sharing.

    • Flora October 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading, Jordan!

  24. Liat August 29, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    Thanks so much for writing this! It’s very comforting. I leave to Colombia in 2 days and I alternate between feeling strong and confident and wanting to curl up in a ball and hide.

    I agree with you about volunteering. I plan to do a lot of it. I like to have a small community of people around me that I can get to know. Being alone for days on end is just not healthy for me, though a good amount of alone time daily is important. Art and photography are my thangs so my plan is to find places where I can contribute those skills, and then write about it and create about it!

    I think it’s so important to give yourself a break and not feel pressured to do things that you’re really not in the frame of mind to enjoy. If I can get in a natural rhythm, I have a much better time and really cool opportunities that I wouldn’t have noticed before just present themselves naturally.

    • Flora October 21, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

      Great to hear that you’re keen to volunteer when you travel, Liat – and I hope you’ve been having an incredible time in Colombia. It’s like my second home over there! :p

  25. curiousprovence September 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    This makes me feel really inspired to travel on my own. As I’m in a long-term relationship and don’t have much money this might be hard to justify but I’m going to make the effort (no matter what he says) to go on a couple weekends away by myself. I need the perspective. You’re so brave!

    • Flora October 21, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      Needing perspective is definitely reason enough to spend some time on your own in a strange place. Hope you have a fantastic time!

  26. realseandolan September 30, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    When the loneliness comes, the best medicine is a good sleep and a morning walk. Everything works out.

    • Flora October 21, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

      Too right :p

  27. Burcie Martin October 6, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    Hello Flora, I enjoyed reading your honest and straightforward article about traveling solo. I am attempting to get up the courage to travel solo. I often feel so embarrassed that at my age with four grown children that I still find it difficult to admit that I am afraid to travel to alone. I thought that one must find a way to get over their fear of traveling alone. I surely thought that all of the women traveling alone were NOT afraid or at the least just SOMETIMES.

    You have truly inspired me to continue planning my trips to Frances, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Africa over the next two years.

    Happy traveling and keep writing to inspire.


    • Flora October 22, 2015 at 6:37 am #

      That’s fantastic to hear Burcie – I’m so glad you’ve made the decision to actively leave your comfort zone and travel! I promise that once you’re out there and doing it, everything falls into place and you won’t be nervous anymore 🙂 All the countries you’re planning to visit sound fantastic too!

  28. Jenny October 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    So wholesome and raw! I’ve traveled alone in the sense of getting to point A to B, knowing I’ll have someone by my side to discover new territory. But weeks, perhaps months of traveling solo is something I plan to do next year.

    My friends from home would describe me as adventurous and courageous, but they have no idea the extent of checking into a dodgy hostel minutes before midnight in a foreign country, and the thoughts of panic that rush through your head as you hope the concierge is still at the front desk to assign you a room key!

    But that’s no excuse to prevent yourself from the trip.

    Thanks for the insight and inspiration!

    • Flora November 9, 2015 at 12:08 am #

      I have so many memories of doing that exact thing, Jenny! Hope you’re planning yourself an epic solo adventure – any idea where in the world you’ll be heading?

  29. ben December 14, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    hello, I have been thinking of travelling on my own. I have had a bit of a tough year, with bereavements, breakup, loss of job. I really want to go but I am scared. I want to travel Asia but I would be going solo! I have this guilty feeling I should be trying to save up and get settled etc as im in my early 30’s. I’m also worried I may get in to trouble out there. Any advise you could give me to put me at ease would be ace!

    • Flora January 1, 2016 at 11:06 pm #

      Hi Ben, thanks for commenting! Hopefully you’ve been feeling better about the idea of solo travel – but if you’re still concerned then feel free to drop me an email via the contact page at the top of the site 🙂


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