How to Start Traveling Solo

Here are the lies that you’ve been telling yourself about solo traveling: It’s incredibly dangerous, and you may end up like the girl from the movie Taken; it’s incredibly lonely and that you need a lot of money to do it, and perhaps the biggest lie of them all is, you must be fearless to travel solo.

Deep down, you know that none of this is true, yet you still haven’t booked that trip. Solo traveling has become super popular, yet to the average first-time Black female solo traveler, it can seem overwhelming.

Having concerns and precautions are necessary and important when wanting to start your solo travel adventures. But ultimately you can’t let fear stop you. If traveling solo has been on your bucket list but you’ve been hesitant, here’s what you need to do.

Practice solo traveling

You probably heard stories of people who had never been outside of the United States, then one day they were on a flight to Thailand. Although these stories are inspiring, they may not be realistic for you depending on your life experiences. Growing up in an environment where you’ve felt safe and secure better prepares you to go out into the world and try new things. If you’ve grown up in environments where your personal safety was an issue, adventuring into the unknown can seem unattainable.

For those that need to take baby steps, try doing solo activities in areas close to home that are unfamiliar to you. The goal is to get yourself comfortable with being alone in a new or unfamiliar situation.

Know your why and set an intention

Social media can often glamorize solo travel, with pictures of solo travelers bathing in water filled with rose petals. However, to get the most out of your experience you must know your why. Many women start solo traveling because they are tired of waiting on their friends. Others start because they aren’t looking to deal with the hassle of traveling with a group. Whatever your reason might be, be clear on it. If you leave for the wrong reason, it can lead to choosing a less appealing destination. Once you know your why, you can set an intention. Ciara mentions on her blog some important questions to ask yourself, such as what you want to gain from the experience, what kind of challenges you expect to face, and how will you overcome them.

Get to the root of your fear

Fear might be the number one reason more women don’t solo travel. One of the first steps to overcoming this fear is to ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Yes, there are some unsafe countries out there. Yes, there is a chance you might be robbed, become lost, or even end up in scary situations. But there are risks to everything that we do. You must decide for yourself if the risk is worth taking. A common practice you can do is sitting with your fear. Thinking about all the scenarios that might happen if you were to travel solo and sit with those feelings. When the feelings pass, ask yourself what you would do. You’ll soon realize that there is a solution to every problem, and there’s a 99% chance that if something goes wrong, you’ll figure it out.

Pick a destination that matches your intention

It’s important to choose a country or a city that you are genuinely interested in. Going back to your intention, what is it that you want to get out of a trip? If you want peace and to take a break from the hustle and bustle, then traveling to bigger cities is probably not the best choice.

Once you choose your location, do your research. Travel Noire recently featured their list of 10 safe destinations for solo travel. And there are many resources geared toward safe destinations for solo female travelers. From those recommendations choose a destination that fits your criteria for the experience you want to have. Then do your research and find out as much as you can about the country. As Candice Swanepoel said, ”The lack of knowledge creates fear. Seeking knowledge creates courage.”

Connect with people before you go

One of the greatest things about traveling solo is that you don’t necessarily have to do it alone. You can often meet people where you are going. Connecting to people through Facebook groups and message boards allows you to make friends even before your trip. A simple post introducing yourself and saying when and where you are traveling can connect you with other travelers going to the same destination. At the very least, you can connect with those who have been where you are planning to go.

Preparing your funds

The easiest way to make sure you can afford solo traveling is to know what you want to do and how much it cost. Then set a budget around that. For example, if you want to go on excursions and tours, find out the total cost of that experience, then focus on cutting the cost of other major expenses. The main expenses for trips tend to be flights, transportation, accommodations, food, and an emergency fund. See where you can minimize these costs. For example, investigating Airbnb could provide great budget-friendly options.

You can also stay in hostels. These not only offer shared and private rooms, some even offer female-only dorms room. Other stays that are great for solo travelers as mentioned by Solo Traveler include home stays, house swaps, and couchsurfing.

Lastly, always make sure that you have extra money in case of an emergency. Keeping an extra credit card or cash hidden away will help you to keep yourself safe in certain situations.

Have an emergency safety plan

As mentioned before, there are risks involved in everything that you do. The great thing about traveling is that you can prepare for those risks. Here are some things that can help keep you safe.

  • Share your location with a close friend or family member at home.
  • Communicate with loved ones on a set schedule or on a regular basis.
  • Keep important numbers and information written down.
  • Carry a backup card or cash.
  • If it makes you feel secure, carry certain items such as pepper spray and a taser.
  • Register for programs like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP. This US government program notifies you if there are any problems such as national disasters or political issues at your destination.

Solo traveling isn’t always about jumping on a plane and following your heart. (More power to you if do.) If you’re still on the fence about solo traveling, remember that it just comes down to having a clear intention, doing the research, planning, and trusting yourself. And if you need a little extra help there are excellent resources out there including books, blogs, and travel coaches that can help you personally plan your solo trip.

As many solo travelers have experienced, once you take your first solo trip it’ll be something you’ll want to do again and again.

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