Traveling alone can be a huge step outside one’s comfort zone, though there are ways on how to overcome the anxiety about traveling alone. Maybe you have always wanted to try it, but something is holding you back or you long to be that person – whatever the trigger is, first-time travel with the anxiety of traveling alone is real.
Ready to take the step out of your comfort zone and into the adventure?
How to Overcome Anxiety About Traveling Alone
Solo travel is a great thing. You get a vacation with the freedom of going wherever you want and doing whatever you want to do, but I understand how much stress it can cause. Being alone in a new place is a new feeling and can make anyone easily panic. For some, the fear of being alone in a new place, the act of traveling alone, or just being inside an airport alone can cause anxiety to surface.
Don’t sweat it — there are solutions to every problem. With these 8 tips for traveling alone for the first time and overcoming that anxiety as a first-time solo traveler, you will be ready to take a step into solo travel in no time!
Want to read about my first-hand experience traveling alone as a woman. Check out my blog here.
How to Stop Travel Anxiety
Anxiety about travel and flying is really common, and more people suffer from solo travel anxiety than you might be aware of. For first-time and seasoned travelers alike, anxiety is something that we always have for one reason or another. For example, going to a new place and not knowing the language or the fear of not knowing anyone at your destination might cause anxiety. It could even be something as simple as losing your luggage. Whatever your reason for the anxiety, there are a lot of tips and tricks to help, don’t worry – I gotchu.
Desensitization is the process where repeated exploration opens up doors for experiences to be LESS frightening and anxiety-inducing. In therapy, it can be used with relaxation techniques and gradual exposure to help someone overcome a phobia.
There’s a program called NO-FEAR Airlines, a software program to help with the fear of flying. This program goes into experiencing the process of flying over and over again, so you will not be as sensitive when you are flying, which is the principle of desensitization.
The benefits of the program are as followed:
- Self-administered over the Internet
- Helps with flying/airplane fears
- Adds humor and education to a stressful experience, making you feel more at ease as you’re going through it
- Gives you the option to experience something scary from the comfort of your home
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavior therapy promotes refocusing your thoughts and behaviors by changing your perspective. Through answering questions and having conversations, you will be able to identify the negative thoughts or things holding you back. By understanding these, you will be able to face the challenges of stressful situations.
Here is how you can use CBT to your advantage to restructure your thoughts about the anxiety of traveling or flying alone.
1) Identify your thoughts. Aka “I’m scared of flying”— but which part? Take off? Landing? Being In the air? Be specific.
2) Go a step deeper and ask yourself what are you afraid of? It could be a mix of fear of crashing, something going wrong, etc.
3) Reframe your thoughts and validate your fear. Listen to the fear, and acknowledge it as something that is okay to feel. Then remember that it is possible to overcome this fear.
4) Put yourself in a deep relaxation mode with deep-breathing techniques as you’re talking back to your negative thoughts and fears.
5) Another option is to write down your negative talk.
Fears are there to protect us from dangerous situations, so your body is signaling that to you when you feel anxious. By using the steps of CBT above, you will be able to understand your fears, validate them, and overcome them.
If the CBT above didn’t help, you can also imagine that you’re talking to a child- if your kid, or your little sibling, or niece/nephew would be scared. What would you tell them if they had the same fear as you?
Acknowledge and Understand the Fear
For some, the anxiety around traveling alone could be a fear of the unknown—fear of the potential danger specifically. Maybe you grew up hearing “never travel alone” and that instilled the anxiety of traveling alone because something bad could happen. Whatever your fear is, understanding it where it comes from is a step in overcoming it so you can pursue the task that you want without anything holding you back.
Look for Community
There are many Facebook groups and online communities for solo travelers in most countries. These groups and communities will have great tips for overcoming that travel solo anxiety. If you are traveling alone and want to have some personal interaction, then look for community meet-ups in your hotel or hostel.
Know What You Want
You might have people telling you what to do, giving their opinion where it isn’t needed, or just generally recommending places to you. It doesn’t matter how your partner, your friends, your neighbors, your yoga teacher, or the influencers online travel…
This is YOUR trip!
Pick a location and travel the way you want for your budget and your needs. Go places and do activities that YOU want, not because you feel like you have to go or do the activity since someone recommended it or suggested you might like it. Knowing what you want from your trip is a huge advantage because it could ease your anxiety about traveling alone and give you a boost of confidence because you will be reminded that you are in control of your trip.
Tips for First-Time Flyers with Anxiety
If you are a first-time flier, then I can totally understand that you are feeling anxious about the trip. Leaving your comfort zone and everything you know to embark on an unknown or new destination where nothing is familiar can be scary. From arriving at the airport to getting to your destination, there are many things that can give people that anxious feeling.
Here are some triggers that could cause anxiety for a first-time flier:
- The sounds
- Feelings of being alone
- The thoughts of taking off and landing
- The actual act of flying
- Making it through security
These are just some of the stressors first-time fliers face. Here are a few tips for you to help calm your nerves before your flight.
Take your Pet
Maybe you have a pet that you want to travel with for the first time because it will make you feel less anxious having them around. Having your pet with you on your trip will give you a sense of comfort and safety. It is a familiar feeling and could help someone feel less alone.
If you do choose to take your pet, then make sure your pet is well-behaved and that you have all the appropriate travel documents in order to have them fly with you. This could cause anxiety if your pet is more hyperactive and not well-behaved in public spaces.
You might be overwhelmed with what to pack or how to pack as a solo traveler. It is easy to feel like you need to have it all together and fit it into a small backpack like the travelers on social media. Packing is a very personal thing, and what is right for someone else, might not be right for you. For example, your friend might suggest you pack a neck travel pillow, but you know those give you a headache .
I am here to tell you again, there is no right way, so just do the damn thing.
Pack however you want. Take things that you feel like you will need. Check out my blog on 7 Travel Must Haves to help you out!
Things to Remember When Traveling Alone with Anxiety
Traveling alone can be something not everyone is ready to take on, though there are so many benefits to it. The fear of facing the unknown alone, feeling weird and awkward when doing things alone. I get it, but here are two great things to remember when you are traveling alone with anxiety!
If you have never taken a trip outside of your town or state, then starting small is a good option vs. jumping into a major international trip.
Here are some examples of what this could look like:
- Going on a weekend getaway
- Going on a road trip
- Visiting a state park
- Going to a new town for a day-trip
Remember to Enjoy Yourself
As a solo traveler, this is your time to do what you want to do when you want to do it. People travel solo for many reasons. Whatever your reason is, remember to enjoy yourself and focus on yourself.
Want to make sure that you have a stress-free trip . Here are some more great tips about self-care while traveling.
Here’s what your reasons could be:
- To get away from your reality
- Experience a brand new place
- Feel a sense of freedom
- Try new restaurants
- See famous places
- Take a tour
- Visit a specific museum or location
- Increase your confidence
- Empower yourself to try new things
Still on the fence about traveling alone? Read my blog on why you should try a spontaneous solo road trip here.
Some last few thoughts…
Traveling solo can be a lot of fun. There is a freedom to it like no other, but anxiety is the beast that can hold you back. If you feel anxious about solo travel, that feeling is okay and is possible to overcome with techniques like CBT, desensitization, or making a plan.
Remember that what works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s okay.