Fear. When you talk about living in a van and travelling on your own this is usually the first subject that comes up. “Aren’t you scared all by yourself? Don’t you get lonely and what if something happens?” I have experienced all those fears myself and talked to many travellers down the road who turned out to have them too. So believe me when I say it’s not just you. Even the most hardcore solo travellers had doubts and fears at some point. However, I have also learned that a lot of those fears are unfounded and will keep you from doing things you might actually really love. So let’s take a closer look at five of the most common fears and see if they really are valid.
It’s not safe, especially not for women.
You’ll be an easy target. You’ll get robbed for sure.’ Or, the real dramatic one; “You’ll be killed if you go by yourself.” This is by far the most common fear for most people. And I can see why. If have had all those fears myself at some point. Okay, maybe not the murder – one but off course the idea of falling victim to some really horrendous scenarios have crossed my mind. We have all read the stories; solo traveller kidnapped, solo taveller missing, solo traveller found in the mountains after 3 weeks. It’s important to keep in mind that those are the exceptions you read about. The numbers show that getting attacked abroad is in fact quite rare. The number one crime solo – travellers fall victim to is robbery. But this is the case for all travellers, not just us soloers. So it’s important to remember that, by traveling alone, we are not putting ourselves in any more threatening situations than if we were to stay at home. So why is it that we are so afraid for our safety, even when the data don’t support this? I think for me it was actually about lacking confidence and the fear of being alone in the first place that made me question my safety.
I am not here to tell you that that fear is completely wrong and unfounded. You probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. I do want to tell you that fear is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I believe that concerning for your safety is generally a good thing. It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about certain situations that you might encounter when travelling alone. I also believe that that same caution probably will keep you from making bad choices and reduce the chance of those fearful scenarios coming true. I have found that the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and act accordingly. You can prevent a lot of ugly situations by taking some simple precautions. Do the research on what to wear, what area’s to avoid and how to carry yourself. Make copies of your documents, tell friends where you are and most importantly; trust your gut.
My family will never approve.
This was a big one for me when I first considered travelling by myself. Every time I brought it up in a conversation with family and friends they would tell me I had lost my mind and ‘Didn’t you read that story about that solo – travelling girl that was kept hostage for 12 years?!’ So I was quite worried to even tell them at the time. Their opinions and support mean the world to me and it would have devastated me if they wouIdn’t have supported me. So I get the fear, I really do. By talking about it I could show them that I really thought it through and that I was ready to strike out on my own. Eventually they supported me in this quest. But I get why some people would be unsure about it. I would never expect my family and friends to understand it or even relate to it but I do expect that , at the very least, they respect it.
People will think I’m a weirdo without any friends.
Table for one please. Yes, just me. Oh yes, I have been guilty of this one myself! Still am to be honest. For many years I used to be afraid what people would think of me if I were to do things by myself. I would be afraid that they would look at me and figure that I was eating dinner alone in a restaurant because I had no friends. And the idea of people taking pity on me was somehow very hard on me for a long time. For me, I think this fear was a direct result of wanting to be liked, caring what other people might think of me and making assumptions. But you what, turns out people don’t find it weird it all. They actually find it inspiring and amirable when people are taking on the world on their own! But even if they didn’t, does it really matter? Because honestly, I could not care less about people who are opiniated about people who are pursuing their dreams on their own.
I’ll get lonely.
This was my biggest fear to be honest. For years I would ask my friends, family or just about anyone really to join me. But there was always something in the way; no time, no money or they already made plans with their partner. And besides, no one was up for a longterm trip with no return date. I realized that if I was waiting for someone to join me, I might very well end up waiting forever. But wouldn’t I get lonely all by my lonesome…?
Quite surprisingly there have been very few occasions that I was really lonely while travelling. I am always so consumed with traveling, taking in the environment and doing outdoorsy stuff that there is very little time to even feel lonely. Besides, I think feeling lonely is more a state of mind instead of actually being without people. We probably all are familiar with feeling alone in a crowded room. So in the end it comes down to being able enjoy your own company, doing things you like and taking care of yourself. Also, it is REALLY easy to meet people while traveling! There are solo-travelers everywhere you go and, because you are alone, you are way more open to interaction with the people around you. I have found myself talking to strangers everywhere and making friend for life.
I’m way too shy/insecure/insert reason for that.
I think it mostly is the fear of lacking the skills and confidence to manage any problems along the way that holds people back. I hear it a lot and I can definitely relate to that; I could not fix my inventer or change a tire to safe my life and I have been worried about that. I still am sometimes. I keep telling myself I should really change that and learn some skills. But after being on the road for quite some time, I have learned that there is a solution for every problem. And there are always people around to help you, even if you don’t speak their language. I have been saved multiple times by some locals who couldn’t understand a word I said but somehow understood that I needed help. You are smart, you are capable and you will manage. Every traveler does and I’m confident you will too. And the funny things is, once you got yourself out of a bad situation your confidence and self – reliance will grow immediately! Traveling has given me confidence in ways I never thought possible.