The solo trip – What’s holding you back?
Pipe dream or real event – you decide.
Solo travel has many advantages, for both female and male travellers. Many still are cautious of going it alone. As well as it being about good honest fun, it is also viewed as a tool for personal growth, and it is becoming more acceptable in many developed nations for both men and women to travel alone. Solo travel is growing in popularity and makes up about 18% of travel bookings worldwide, which represents a 7% increase in 2019 compared to previous years. Although solo travel continues to grow as a global trend, not everyone has chosen to embrace it. Some sit back and simply dream while others take action. This begs the question – why do some choose to wait to travel solo? And what are their reasons for holding back?
Barriers for solo travellers
Fear is a very real barrier most people will need to address before taking a solo trip. Although the logistics leading up to a solo trip can be intimidating, stressful, and somewhat fear-inducing, solo travel in itself is not a negative experience. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Despite this, a resistance to solo travel remains, especially among females.
I spoke with Crystal Garcia, a Toronto-based entrepreneur, about her desire to travel solo.
I have always dreamed of taking a solo trip, and I know it’s something I definitely need to experience for myself. I think everyone should travel alone at least once in their lives.
Crystal is no stranger to the challenges of a new culture. Although she has travelled extensively with family and friends, Crystal admits to a fear of travelling solo.
I wouldn’t even know where to start with planning and budgeting. It all seems a bit overwhelming to me, spending so much money on a trip just for myself.
Although some may label solo travel as ‘self-indulgent’, this interpretation could not be further from the truth. Solo travellers develop a greater understanding of social issues and cultural differences, which in turn fosters self-development and acceptance of others. This helps to combat the culture of fear that has enveloped most of the western world, affecting interpersonal relationships both within countries and between them.
Transforming fear into action
If you are sitting on the fence about solo travel, it is time to hop off that fence and take the first step. Reach out to your social network and find someone that has travelled solo. Ask them about their experience and use their stories as inspiration.
I spoke with Catharine Tombs, a neurological physiotherapist and passionate traveller, about her experience as an expat in Japan. Catharine admits that moving to Japan was a huge culture shock.
It was difficult to learn the language at first, but I’m glad I did. I felt less afraid and gained more confidence in my abilities to navigate the culture. When I had time off from teaching, I was able to venture out on my own and experience different parts of the country. These solo trips were the most rewarding part for me.
When asked what advice she has for anyone thinking of travelling solo, Catharine says,
All the fears and challenges you may experience are totally worth the personal growth. Solo travel deepens your emotional well of resilience and changes your perspective on almost everything. The impact really is life-altering.” Keeping this advice in mind, it’s time to make a move on fear and turn those solo travel dreams into realities.
Actionable first trips to get you started
As with most challenges in life, the hardest part of travelling alone is simply starting. Consider turning any of the following into your solo travel debut:
- Visit a new destination in your own country. Avoid culture shock and jet lag altogether by visiting a ‘new to you’ destination that is within the borders of your home country. Step outside of your comfort zone and really push yourself to explore this new city/town. What feelings do you experience?
- Plan a shorter trip first, such as weekend getaway, in order to get comfortable spending time alone. Most people are not comfortable going to a bar alone, eating in a restaurant alone or going to a movie theatre alone. Are you able to do these things solo?
- Combine work-related events, such as conferences, with travel. This will not only keep your boss happy, but it will also cut down on travel costs. Combining work and travel often means having some (or all) travel expenses covered by your employer, which will keep your wallet happy too!
These simple suggestions are a great way to get your travel juices flowing and provide the inspiration you need to finally book that solo trip! In the wise words of Jack Canfield, America’s beloved author and motivational speaker,
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
But don’t just take his word for it. Go ahead and find out for yourself.