Deciding to travel solo was a decision I came to after years of thinking about it. I had wanted to travel alone for years, but was fearful that because solo travel wasn’t necessarily the “norm”, by society’s standards, I was maybe a bit… weird? I would lay in bed at night tossing and turning and wonder, “Is it weird, at my age, when I *should* want to settle down and I *should* want a house with kids and dogs, that I actually don’t want any of those things? Is it weird that while everyone around me is settling down, I feel the least settled that I ever have in my entire life?”
One fateful day I finally decided that it was time to stop waiting to live my life, and go out and live it. That day I booked a one-way ticket to Europe, and my life was forever changed…
As I mentioned earlier, it took me years to finally bite the bullet and book a solo trip. I spent years begging friends to travel with me, waiting to meet a boyfriend who liked to travel, and years suppressing my desire to travel. There were stages I went through that would drive my desire forward and make me one step closer to booking a solo trip. And then there were stages that would take me backward, back to the doubt that I was weird for wanting to travel alone. It wasn’t until I read the book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis that I finally realized, I did not want to be looking back at my life in 10-years and thinking, “Man… I wish I had booked that solo trip 10-years ago”. And that is when I finally booked my first multi-week, solo trip.
My first solo trip ended up lasting 17-weeks. My travels took me from Europe to Southeast Asia. I saw tourist hot spots and traveled off the beaten path. I laughed, cried, met strangers that turned into friends, and unfortunately had friends turn into strangers. I shed my skin of a fearful and anxious girl worried what others would think, and grew into my own. I started making my own rules. Doing what I wanted because I wanted to. And not apologizing for any of it. This is the journey it took for me to get where I am today…
The 7 Stages of Deciding to Travel Solo
The first stage to deciding to travel solo is manifesting it! It’s in this stage where you realize that you have the desire to book a solo trip and start to think of all the ways that you can make it happen! It’s in this stage that you perhaps let that “dark secret” out of the closet and begin to tell close friends and family about your trip. It’s also usually at this stage that they may not take you seriously quite yet…
Stage two is the excitement stage! It’s at this time that you haven’t really realized the impact of your big decision. You’re forging ahead with adrenaline running through your veins as you start to plan the details of your solo trip. It’s typically here that thoughts of, “This is going to be so fun!”, bounce around in your head without realizing the implications of what you’re about to do.
The third stage is perhaps the worst stage, but necessary to prepare. It’s in this stage that the excitement has worn off and now you may start to feel a bit of anxiety for what’s to come. It’s now that you realize that adrenaline won’t fund your travels or help you prepare any better. You may even think to yourself, “Have I told anyone about this yet? Is it too late to back out? What was I thinking?!” But without the anxiety and sitting down and realizing that solo travel isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, you wouldn’t come to the realization that despite all your worries, you still have a lingering desire to book that trip.
Stage four is crunch time. You’ve gotten over your initial excitement, you’ve pushed those fears and worries outside of your head for another day, and now it’s time to start preparing. It’s here that you’ll make a game plan of how much money you want to save, which countries you want to visit, and maybe get a feel for about how long you plan to be gone. You may decide to book a one-way ticket and go with the flow, or book a round trip flight and plan every last detail. The beauty of solo travel is that it is entirely your choice and there is no wrong choice.
Need more guidance in preparing? Read More!
Stage five… denial. No matter how hard you work to prepare, there is a time that you will inevitably take a step backward. It’s at this time that you may have already splashed your news across social media and started to book hotels and flights here and there, but you now think, “How and why did I think I could do this?!” It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Take a deep breath, take a break from planning, and come back to it in a few days when you feel better. If you take a step back I think you’ll truly realize why you started planning this solo trip in the first place and you’ll proceed ahead with caution.
Bargaining, stage six, is when you might try to change your solo plans into group plans. You may think, “I have to save HOW much?! And I’ll still have to sleep in a hostel?!” Or you may think, “Is it still considered solo travel if I begin inviting friends to meet me along the way?” The best part about the bargaining stage is that your solo trip can look different from anyone else’s solo trip! You have the power to decide if you want a friend to visit you or you want to go at it entirely alone. It’s also at this time that you may be pleading with your family to just leave you alone. People may try to talk you out of traveling solo using fear as an excuse as to why you shouldn’t be going. And you may even start to believe them or feel as though you owe them some sort of explanation. But guess what? You don’t.
The best stage of deciding to travel solo is the last stage – acceptance. It’s here that you’ve finally accepted your future plans and are probably really excited about them! It’s also the time when your friends and family decide that they cannot talk you out of this trip that you’ve planned and despite their incessant pleas claiming it isn’t safe to travel alone, it’s finally time that they accept it and support you.
So as you embark on your next solo journey, all I ask is this. Do something that scares you. Something out of your comfort zone. Take the cooking class. Learn a new language. Meet a new friend. Eat out by yourself. Stop worrying about failure or what society might think of you. Stop with the excuses. Don’t wait to live your life and just go live your life.
For more on solo travel, and why it’s a good idea to book the trip, read these posts: