How to Build Confidence While Travelling Solo
“How are you so confident while travelling solo?”
Over the past few years, this is one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked. Truth be told, I’m not a confident person at all. In this blog post, I’m going to be sharing a few of the different ways you can build confidence while travelling solo. While travelling, I found that these helped me to grow and I hope they can help you too.
You Don’t Have to Be Confident to Travel Solo
A really important part of building confidence while travelling comes with accepting that it’s perfectly natural to feel nervous in some situations. We all get nervous. There are just varying levels as to how much that impacts us.
As damaging as nervousness can feel, it often serves a much deeper purpose than damaging our psyche. If I’m walking alone at night and a shady alleyway makes me feel uncomfortable, I’m probably going to avoid that alleyway. Those negative thoughts are sometimes a deeper part of a protective instinct, helping us to keep ourselves safe.
That can be a useful tool when you’re travelling solo. You really have to listen to your body and trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right or makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable, you know to try to get yourself away from that situation.
Things can be a little bit different if you suffer with any form of anxiety. As someone who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I’ve spent years with my mind perceiving every little detail as a potential threat. These situations can be far more challenging in terms of building confidence and I would always recommend paying attention to your own comfort, limits and emotions.
1. Do your research before you travel.
If individual elements of your trip are making you feel nervous, you might feel more confident if you have a deeper understanding of your destination. In researching for your adventure, you can make sure that you know where you’re going to be sleeping, how you’re going to be getting around and what you can do in an emergency situation.
When you haven’t travelled much on your own, I would always recommend booking somewhere to stay for every single night of your trip. You should also learn the emergency contact numbers for the local area. The chances of an emergency ever occurring are minimal, but knowing what you should do if there is an emergency could help you to feel more in control of the situation and more confident.
In doing your research, you’ll have to put some faith in your own planning abilities. Some people just like to have a vague idea of what their day might look like. Others like a giant road map. Go with the flow and pick whichever feels better for you.
Once you’ve gone on one successful solo adventure, the rest will become just a little bit easier.
2. Learn to embrace your strengths and weaknesses.
Part of the human condition is that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding yours can be the key that helps you to build confidence while travelling. In the modern world, it’s far too easy for us to focus on our flaws. The second we’re asked about our strengths and given no time to prepare – many of us flounder.
Travelling will bring with it a series of unique challenges. Using your strengths to your advantage will help you to get through them all. Maybe you’re amazing at starting conversations with new people or navigating the world with a map and compass…or Google Maps. Maybe you’re clumsy and somehow come out of most falls relatively unscathed, just like me.
Just as it’s important to work out your strengths, it’s important to embrace your weaknesses. They’re a part of who you are. Understanding them simply places you in a better position to deal with them. While we can’t focus on our weaknesses alone, confronting them while we travel helps to build and shape a form of confidence that lasts a lifetime.
3. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you to push yourself out of your comfort zone to build confidence. It’s much harder in practice.
Is there something you’re dreaming about doing, but you’re simply too afraid to? Try not to let fear be the only driving force that holds you back. When you travel, you make the rules up as you go. It’s perfectly reasonable to be scared of some new things and some old ones, but being able to tackle those fears and take them down in new and unfamiliar ways is a unique experience.
Once you show yourself that you are capable of accomplishing those feats, your confidence in yourself and your abilities will grow. After you’ve jumped one hurdle, you’ll be ready to jump the next.
4. Make sure you know where you’re going to be sleeping.
While I have already brushed over this topic, it deserves a section too.
It’s difficult to ooze confidence when you don’t know where you’re going to be sleeping at night. If you’re a first-time solo traveller or you haven’t done much travelling, I would never recommend “going with the flow” and seeing where you end up. You’ll feel much more settled if you know where you’re going to be resting and storing your belongings.
Where you decide to sleep is a personal decision. Some people really appreciate the privacy of hotel rooms, others flourish in hostels surrounded by international strangers. I’m not currently recommending Airbnb accommodation right now and you can find out why in my “Why I’m Not Recommending Airbnb Accommodation Right Now” article. I would always recommend choosing a form of accommodation where you believe you’ll feel most comfortable.
5. Think about joining some classes or guided tours.
If you’re struggling to find the confidence to talk to strangers when you’re travelling, you might want to think about joining some local classes or guided tours. Classes will put you face-to-face with locals, whereas guided tours will enable you to interact more with other travellers.
There are plenty of different classes and guided tours out there. You could join a cookery class and learn how to make some iconic regional dishes. Or perhaps you could go on a tour of historic buildings. It’s great to be surrounded by people who are invested in something similar to you and you already have the perfect conversation starter topic ready to go.
For longer trips, I would highly recommend joining a language class if the local language doesn’t match your own. You’ll be able to meet other travellers and locals who can offer insight into the area around you.
6. Give yourself some time to adapt to your surroundings.
When you’re travelling, don’t expect to be comfortable with your surroundings and appear confident as soon as your plane lands. We all need time to adapt to new surroundings. Culture shock can also jump in to play an important role here, one that is surprising to say the least.
Try to be as patient as you can with yourself. The more you travel, the quicker you’ll learn to adapt to your surroundings. But, it doesn’t always come easily. Different places often come hand-in-hand with different customs, different ways of doing things and different ways of thinking.
If you are somewhere new, you might adapt to your surroundings a little bit quicker if you watch the way that locals behave and mimic a little bit of the behaviour you can see. If you’re on the train and people are avoiding speaking on their phones, you’ll feel and look more comfortable doing the same.
Don’t Let Your Mind Hold You Back
When you try to build confidence while travelling, you might find thsat your brain is your biggest enemy. It’s our minds that often hold us back when it comes to confidence, not the world around us. If you find that this is an are you’re really struggling with regularly, I would highly recommend taking a look into what therapy-related options might be available around you.
If there are any tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below!
– Kimberley Ann