… while allowing room for spontaneity, I’ve researched countless blogs, spoken with friends and friends of friends, tidied up loose ends at work and home. I’ve been ecstatic and energized and caught up in the whole process.I’ve dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s. I leave for Thailand in a week and all of the sudden I’m terrified. I’m that shadow of my young self, lacking in confidence and self-esteem, full of doubt …
This comment from a reader echoes many comments and emails I receive. People are excited but, at the last moment, anxious about heading out solo. If you also experience this, I have some advice.
My Top Tips for Solo Travel Confidence
- Go cold turkey on the crime shows. These shows wildly overstate the threat of violence in this world. Yes, you must take safety seriously but take a break from the crime shows well before leaving on your trip so that your imagination doesn’t run away with itself.
- Do your research. The more you know about where you’re going the more confident you’ll feel. Study maps of cities so that you have an idea of how they are laid out. Find out about local transit and the cost of taxis so that you know how you’ll get around. Understand the currency and exchange rate so that you’ll be able to quickly do the math in your head to know what something costs in your own currency. Get a few phrases down.
- Book your first few nights accommodation. Your accommodation is your safe haven. Whether it’s a hotel, hostel, B&B or apartment, book a place with great reviews before you leave so that you know you’ll have a soft landing when you get there. Use The Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide which includes 223 listings from 62 countries, all recommended by solo travelers.
- Find your cheerleader. When you’re getting nervous talk to friends who were thrilled about your upcoming trip and stay away from those who were only lukewarm or even negative. Those enthusiasts will bolster you.
- Sign up with your government. Register with your government as a citizen traveling abroad. Here are the pages for the US, Australia and Canada. The service is no longer offered to British Nationals. They are offered basic travel information here and asked to sign up for alerts here.
- Plan for communication. Whether you like email, text, phone or Facebook, if you can find WiFi you can get in touch with home for pennies if not free with a smartphone. Skype allows you to call directly to a landline for just a few cents a minute.
- Get a local contact. Remember six degrees of separation? Well that number was determined based on snail mail – well before Facebook. In 2011, on Facebook alone, we were divided by 4.74 degrees of separation. Add other platforms and five years there is likely a friend of a friend of yours who is local and whom you could meet for a coffee or call should you have a moment of anxiety.
- Be patient with yourself. Take things slowly. Sit, watch, let the rhythm of your destination catch you and then go with it.
- Pamper yourself. What do you find calming? Is it a cup of tea or coffee? Being by water? Reading a book? A massage or facial? Understand yourself and do what will calm you.
- Read 10 Ways to Look Confident. This post offers you 10 ways to look confident when you don’t quite feel so.
And, of course, breathe and know you will be okay.