There is a certain level of discomfort in travel. While you may be craving adventure and feel ready to jump into another culture, stepping out of your comfort zone will naturally produce fear and uncertainty. This is especially true if you’re traveling for the first time or as a solo female traveler. However, there are ways to overcome fear and enjoy every moment of your next adventure. It’s all about planning well and knowing your abilities and limits. Once you learn to befriend fear, your travels will become enriching, wisdom-producing experiences that will offer stories for years to come.
1. Make a Plan
There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity, but if you’re taking a big trip for the first time, planning will help you avoid the fear of the unknown. Make sure you at least have the big stuff marked off your list: flights, accommodation, car rental, etc. Trying to find a hostel with an available bed in an unfamiliar city won’t do anything to help you feel more comfortable. This is all about working within your limits. If you don’t have much travel experience, don’t expect to be able to dive into another country with nothing planned. Putting that kind of pressure on yourself will only make the experience more stressful.
2. Find a Travel Buddy
Maybe you’re not quite ready for solo travel—that’s ok! For your first few big trips, consider finding a travel buddy. This can be a close friend or family member, or maybe even a friend you made on your last trip. Some people even prefer traveling with friends as opposed to traveling alone as some experiences are simply better when shared.
3. Do Your Research
If you’re traveling to another country, learning a bit about the culture, food, and major laws will help put your mind at ease. Check out blogs from travelers who have already visited that city or country. You may even consider contacting them directly to further discuss their experience. Hop on YouTube and find some videos that offer a taste of the culture and the people. All of this will help you step into the country with less fear.
4. Seek out Something Familiar
You’ve arrived. You’re settled in your hotel room. You have your itinerary all planned out. So why are you so scared? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, instead of trying out that small local cafe, try to find a restaurant that serves food from your home country. Or hang out in a park that looks similar to the one from your hometown. Spending time in these places will help you feel grounded as you work on adjusting to all the unfamiliar sights and sounds around you.
5. Embrace Fear
Fear is simply your mind’s way of trying to protect you. Embrace it for what it is and then allow yourself to move past it. Travel will always include some level of fear and anxiety, but each time you choose to embrace those emotions and go anyway, you’ll learn more about yourself and the world, and each trip you take will expand your abilities and confidence. Travel is a skill like any other, so practice taking fear along for the ride—eventually, you may find that it decides to stay at home.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Nathan James Thomas founded Intrepid Times in 2014, and it has since grown into a popular home for travel writing with heart, attracting hundreds of contributors and thousands of readers from around the world. His own travel writing has been published in places like Roads and Kingdoms, Outpost Magazine, and New Zealand Memories. Originally from New Zealand, Nathan lived in China for two years and is currently based in Eastern Europe.
Jennifer Roberts is a U.S. native whose adventures have stretched across four continents, from the valley of Chiang Mai to the heights of Machu Picchu. After developing a taste for travel on a high school trip to Italy, she left her small hometown in Illinois for an adventurous year in Thailand. She then moved to southern Chile, where she currently lives and works as a freelance editor, writer, and English teacher.