Fear and anxiety of travelling alone

Overcome Fear & Anxiety of Travelling Alone: 23 Things I Do

Even experienced solo travellers can suffer from anxiety and fear before travelling alone.

Fear and anxiety are your body telling you that you are about to do something out of the ordinary and you need to prepare accordingly. Overcoming this fear and developing self-confidence are part of what makes solo travel rewarding.

But how do we overcome the anxiety of travelling alone?

Begin by identifying what is causing your fear of travelling alone. Then apply the 23 tips below to overcome your solo travel anxiety.

Nomadic Yak has 100s of solo travel tips if it’s your first time travelling solo!

How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety of Travelling Alone: 23 Tips

1. Spritz yourself with calming spray

I keep Bach Rescue Remedy in my daypack so that it is on hand in stressful situations. 

It uses 5 natural flower essences to provide quick comfort and reassurance. Simply spray twice under your tongue.

I also spray it on my pillow at night and the calming smell lulls me to sleep.

2. Stay connected with a local SIM

Messaging apps on a phone, including Whatsapp and Telegram

When travelling alone, you can resolve 99% of your problems using the internet:

  • Using maps to navigate your destination
  • Booking accommodation and transport
  • Contacting family, friends and emergency services
  • Accessing bookings, visas and other travel documents
  • Entertaining yourself

That’s why I always suggest buying a local SIM card and a data plan as soon as you arrive at your destination. Local data plans are usually more affordable than international roaming or e-sims.

Having internet access will go a long way in quashing your fears and anxiety when travelling alone.

3. Set up ‘Find My Phone

A broken iphone is a common occurrence when travelling alone

Every solo traveller’s biggest nightmare is losing their phone. Your phone is your lifeline when travelling alone.

Set up the “Find My” feature on your phone before leaving for your solo adventure. Apple iPhone users can use Find My iPhone, whilst Google users can use Find My Device.

If your phone is lost or stolen whilst travelling, you can now locate it, lock it or erase the data on it. That helps to eradicate some of the fear of having your phone stolen.

But I also suggest including a spare smartphone on your solo travel packing list. Any old smartphone that you have lying around will do. And this can be used as a backup if your original phone is stolen.

4. Study these safety tips

A bungee jumper plunging into the river below.

Think you’re prepared for anything that your destination can throw at you? Think again.

I’ve had to learn the hard way so that you don’t have to! Be sure to read my 35 solo travel safety tips, including:

  • How to share your GPS location with family
  • Why you should use a VPN to access public WiFi
  • How to check ATMs for skimming devices
  • How to choose a safe hostel
  • Much more!

5. Focus on the positives (but be prepared for the negatives)

A blonde solo female traveller holds her hands up in excitement as she looks over a lake in a valley.

There are advantages and disadvantages to travelling alone. But if you only focus on the negatives, your anxiety will snowball out of control.

Focus on the pros of solo travel rather than the cons. When you’re feeling fearful or anxious, remember:

  • You have flexibility – you can go where you want, when you want and do what you want without worrying about others.
  • You have time to focus on yourself – you can be as lazy or as active as you like without other people judging you. 
  • You have more opportunities to make friends and meet people – you are not confined to your social circle and you 
  • You become more self-assured and confident – you realise that you are capable of surviving and thriving independently.
  • You discover yourself – you can be who you really are without anyone having any preconceived notions about you.

6. Write out your anxieties and your coping mechanisms

Solo traveller journalling

Get ahead of your fears and anxieties by identifying them. 

Leading up to your solo trip, make a list of all the things you feel anxious about. Then ask why that thing makes you feel anxious and what you can do to overcome that anxiety.

Most of the time, we will be able to immediately find a practical solution to the problem that we’re worried about. Then we realise that the problem was never really worth worrying about.

7. Carry a small memento from home

Instant photos that can be carried as mementos whilst solo travelling.

Feeling homesick can heighten anxiety when travelling alone.

As a remedy to homesickness, it may help you to carry a small memento – a picture, a note, a piece of jewellery, perfume, etc.

If ever you feel anxious, pull out your memento and remember that you’re only ever a flight or a phone call away from home.

Personally, I carry an instant photo from my girlfriend, with a loving note on the back of it.

8. Journal for 5 minutes each day

A solo female traveller journalling.

Journaling helps me to clarify my thoughts and work through problems.

I spend 5 minutes each day journaling. But instead of hauling a paper journal around in my backpack, I use my iPad and the Notion app.

Make a habit of journaling each day. When you feel anxious whilst travelling alone, ask yourself why you feel that way, what is triggering your fear and whether you are being rational?

Again, you will almost always find an immediate and practical solution to your problems.

9. Find yourself a happy spot

Harry's (Nomadic Yak) happy spot in Vang Vieng, Laos.

Whenever I arrive at a new destination, I locate my ‘happy spot’ – somewhere scenic and quiet. 

I make a habit of going here each morning with a coffee so that I can gather my thoughts and energise for the day.

My favourite ‘happy spot’ was a rocky river bank in Vang Vieng, Laos (see the picture above).

10. Know that you can return home at any time

Row of plane seats and window.

Sometimes, anxiety can become so overwhelming that the only safe option is to end your trip and return home. 

Remember, there is no shame in returning home early from your trip. It is as simple as arranging a flight from the nearest airport.

There will always be more opportunities for you to travel alone in the future when you are feeling better.

11. Use anxiety to your advantage

Train market in Bangkok, Thailand

Anxiety provides an adrenaline boost that can be advantageous when travelling alone.

When anxious, you are more alert. Your mind and body are telling you to be on guard, which can help you to avoid dangerous people and situations.

And the butterflies in your stomach before departure will help to ensure that you prepare properly. It is a reminder not to forget important stuff such as your passport or your travel insurance.  

Once you arrive, settle in and realise that solo travel isn’t as scary as you thought, that anxious feeling will subside. But your anxiety will never totally disappear – because a little anxiety is actually helpful.

12. Overcome your anxiety of flying

Plane outside an airport window.

If you’re anxious about air travel, read my guide to flying alone for the first time

In the guide, I list 10 things you can do to overcome anxiety when flying alone. For example:

  • Remember that flight is the safest form of travel and that no plane has ever crashed due to turbulence.
  • Wear comfortable clothes like sweatpants and a hoodie.
  • Breathe into a paper bag.
  • Use an anxiety-calming spray.

13. Read the accounts of other solo travellers

Reddit app logo

If I’m feeling nervous about travelling to a particular destination alone, I’ll find first-hand accounts from other travellers that have been there recently.

The Solo Travel subreddit is one of the best places to read people’s travel stories and ask questions. You can also find a lot of solo travellers on the Travel subreddit.

14. Travel slowly 

Hot air balloons flying at sunrise over Cappadocia in Turkey

Rushing around the world in 80 days will only add stress to your solo trip.

Minimise anxiety by travelling slowly. Try to stop for at least 3 days at each destination on your itinerary. This gives you time to settle in, get accustomed and overcome your initial anxieties.

Plan to do at least one thing each day of your solo trip. Staying active also helps ward off anxiety.

15. Anxiety apps that actually help

Headspace app on an iPhone

There are a heap of apps out there that claim to help with anxiety. 

Two of the most popular apps include Headspace and Calm. However, these both require subscriptions. A free alternative that I like is Medito.

I also frequent the “Sleep” and “Wellness” sections on Spotify. I’ll often meditate or fall asleep listening to nature sounds, Tibetan bowls or peaceful music.

You can also find free guided meditations on Spotify and YouTube. My favourite is Jason Stephenson Meditation (try his affirmation videos when you’re feeling anxious).

16. Carry the essentials at all times (except your passport)

Eastpak Doggy Bag
  • Worn close to the body. Can’t easily be snatched.
  • Heaps of storage: I can fit my iPhone, Airpods, wallet, charging cable, sanitiser, sunglasses and more.
  • No more walking around with lumpy pockets.

Make sure your day bag or bum bag is packed with everything you need to make it back to your accommodation in an emergency:

  • Your phone
  • A credit card
  • A small amount of cash
  • Some form of ID (preferably not a passport)
  • A power bank and charging cable
  • Medication

I never carry my passport on me. I leave it locked with my luggage in my accommodation. I also keep an old backup phone with my luggage.

Even if I were to be mugged, I could find a way back to my accommodation and have everything I need to access my bank accounts, emails, iCloud, embassy, etc. 

17. Learn to say ‘no’

Snake charmer in Marrakech, Morocco

If you’re introverted or anxious, you might shy away from the word ‘no’. 

But there will be times when you are travelling alone and you have to say ‘no’ in order to avoid a dangerous situation.

“No”, I don’t want to go to the bar with you. “No”, I don’t want a ride with you. “No,” I’m not going to give you my Instagram handle.

If you don’t say no to some things, you’ll be dragged into everything. And this is the fastest way to spike your anxiety and ruin your solo trip.

18. Bring your medication and continue counselling (if applicable)

Pills with smiley faces drawn on them.

If you take prescription anxiety medication, it is important that you keep taking your medication as prescribed throughout your solo trip.

Be sure to carry any medication in its original prescription bottle with a copy of the prescription. It is unlikely that you will be asked about this by airport security but it is best to be prepared anyway. 

Keep some of your prescription medication in your daypack and the majority in your luggage. This way, you always have your medication on hand (even if one bag is lost or stolen).

If you receive counselling for fear and anxiety, you should try to continue that counselling whilst travelling. Arrange to have your existing counsellor call you via Whatsapp at a convenient time. Alternatively, try an online therapy service.

19. Have the local hotlines saved in your phone

A man uses his phone.

Visit this list of emergency numbers and calling codes from around the world. Locate your destination and save the number as a contact in your phone.

You should also designate one family member or friend that you will call in an emergency. Tell them that you will call them if you feel scared or anxious, so they must be prepared to take your call at any time.

Also, research mental health hotlines that you can call if necessary. Many countries around the world have hotlines that you can use if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression whilst travelling alone.

20. Know that you will rarely be alone

Two female travel friends look over Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.

I estimate that the average solo traveller only spends around 10-20% of their trip alone – and that’s the time that they spend sleeping in private accommodation.

80% of the time you are surrounded by other travellers, tour guides, motel staff and friendly locals.

You’ll realise that you don’t have to deal with the struggles of solo travel all on your own. Most people are kind and will help you to overcome the challenges – they’ll provide companionship, share travel advice, help you speak the local language and much more.

When you realise that there’s almost always someone around to help, you feel less fearful and anxious about travelling alone.

21. Plan logically to prepare mentally

Solo traveller planning their trip.

Spend time planning the practical details of your solo trip so that you are physically and mentally prepared for the problems and emotions that will arise.

Start by choosing a safe and popular destination from my list of the best places to travel alone. Then use my solo travel destination guides to research an itinerary, budget, accommodation and transport. 

Each guide also includes a section on the safety risks that are unique to your destination.

22. Remember: overcoming fear is the reason we choose to travel alone

A woman in a raincoat stands underneath a waterfall.

One of the reasons we travel alone is to step out of our comfort zone.

When we overcome the challenges that come with travelling solo, we feel accomplished. We prove to ourselves that we can face the challenges of life independently.

We become more self-confident and socially confident. We become more interesting thanks to the stories we gather and the friends we make.

Embrace the anxiety. It is a sign that you are doing something worthwhile.

23. Throw yourself into it

A female solo traveller rides a camel through the Sahara Desert.

I know. You’ve heard this piece of advice 100 times before and you don’t want to hear it again.

But it works.

The only way that you can shed all fear and anxiety of travelling alone is to “just do it”.

When you throw yourself into solo travel, you realise that you are more capable than you ever imagined. You can find accommodation on your own. You can make friends on your own. You can explore the streets on your own. You can dine on your own.

I can almost guarantee that 24 hours into your trip, you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about.

What Causes Fear and Anxiety of Travelling Alone?

A solo traveller hiking an erupting volcano in Iceland

There are four fears and anxieties that you’ll likely experience when travelling alone.

Every solo traveller I’ve ever met (myself included) has experienced one or more of these anxieties at some stage.

It’s important to identify the cause of your fear and anxiety so that you can address it directly and logically. Then, we can ask ourselves two questions:

  • Are my fears and anxieties about travelling alone justified?
  • How can I prepare for my trip so that my fears and anxieties are minimised?

Which fear is driving your anxiety about travelling alone?

  1. First-time solo travel anxiety
Harry on his first solo trip in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, South East Asia
Young, dumb and nervous on my first solo trip in South East Asia (2017)

Your first solo trip is the scariest. You have no idea what to expect.

Will I get lonely? Will I make friends? Am I capable of surviving on my own? Is travelling alone weird?

I asked myself all these questions before taking off for my first solo trip. As did the hundreds of other solo travellers that I have met since. 

Doing something unfamiliar for the first time is always daunting. 

But for 99% of people, all that anxiety and fear melt away within 2 hours of arriving at your destination. 

By the time you’re checked into your room and you’re staring out into the bustling streets, you’ll think “This is easier than I thought.” The excitement will take over you and you’ll never look back – you’re a solo traveller now!

Want to know if you’re cut out for solo travel? Take my 15-questions quiz: should I travel alone?

  1. Fear for your personal safety
Two men smoking in a street slum in India

About 45% of women and 20% of men report safety concerns as their main reason for not travelling alone (Tourlane). So, is solo travel safe?

The truth is this – there are more dangers involved in solo travel than in other forms of travel. 

Even experienced solo travellers feel anxious before visiting dangerous or isolated destinations.

But no form of travel is completely safe. All you can do is minimise the risks by properly planning and preparing.

See my 35 solo travel safety tips to protect yourself against thieves, scam artists, dodgy strangers, the forces of nature and more.

And use my solo travel destination guides to learn about the safety risks unique to your destination.

Sometimes it is safer to travel in a group. Read about my experiences with solo travel vs group travel vs friends travel.

  1. Fear of getting lonely and bored
Female solo traveller in her campervan in Australia.

I repeatedly tell my readers: “You are rarely lonely when you travel alone”.

Yes, there are times when solo travel is lonely and sad. But most of the time you will be surrounded by like-minded travellers and fascinating locals (some of whom will become lifelong friends).

Read my 30-point guide on how to travel alone and not be lonely if you’re worried about feeling isolated.

And note that there are also times when solo travel is boring. But again, these occasions are rare and short-lived.

Because as the old saying goes – only boring people get bored.

  1. Fear of socialising and making friends (advice for introverts)
Two solo travellers meet in a hostel dorm room.

Before I left for my first solo trip, I was worried that I’d look like a loner and have a hard time meeting people. 

I had no idea how to make friends while travelling alone.

But within a day, I realised that 25% of my fellow travellers were solo and had made 5 new friends.

Why is it so easy to meet people when travelling alone? 

Because you are forced to step outside of your social circle and speak to strangers. And all you have to do to break the ice is discuss your common interest – travel.

Naturally shy (like me)? My guide to solo travel as an introvert has more tips on socialising.

Related Posts

Summary: Fear and Anxiety When Travelling Solo

A solo travel woman smiling in front of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France.

It’s important to identify the cause of your fear and anxiety so that you can address it directly and logically. Then, we can ask ourselves two questions:

  • Are my fears and anxieties about travelling alone justified?
  • How can I plan or prepare for my trip so that my fears and anxieties are minimised?

There are 23 tips above that you can use to tackle your fears when travelling alone. 

But, remember, a little bit of anxiety is a good thing. Even the most experienced solo travellers still experience fear.

Fear and anxiety are evidence that you are doing something out of the ordinary, something worthwhile and potentially something dangerous. Use it to your advantage but don’t let it hold you back.

Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak

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Find more first-time solo travel tips on Nomadic Yak!

Nomadic Yak helps solo travellers to plan journeys that are adventurous and authentic.

Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.

You’ll find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.

Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.