Sunday, November 29, 2009

Traveling Alone

I have traveled alone since my first trip to Europe in my early 30's up till and including now at 59, spending six months away from home in a condo rental in Florida.  So this article resonates with me. 

Posted on November 8, 2009 - by Janice at Solo Traveler
For Those Afraid of Traveling Alone

In one evening I encountered two thoughts about fear. When ideas converge like that, I just have to write about them.

According to a recent post by Seth Godin, people are “afraid of anything with too many choices, too many opportunities, to look foolish or to waste time or money.” In Steven C. Lunden’s, CATS, The Nine Lives of Innovation, “The doubts and fears accumulated over a lifetime are there, in part, to keep us safe and secure. They can also serve as a straight jacket preventing innovation.”

Solo travel is full of choice, opportunity, occasions to look foolish and waste money. On the flip side, home is safe and secure. But is life in a straight jacket what you want? Personally, I think it’s important that fear doesn’t stop people from traveling alone.

I have met many, many people over the course of writing this blog who have come out and declared their inclination to travel alone. They have felt freed to speak about this choice as positive rather than a sad option. Unfortunately, there are also many people who are fearful of traveling alone.

One of the first steps in facing any fear is to name it. Break it down to see the source of the fear and determine whether it makes sense or not.

What do people fear about traveling alone?

So I put this question to my favourite crowd-sourcing forum, Twitter. Not everyone who follows me on Twitter actually travels solo so this is my best source of a random sample. It includes people who enjoy traveling alone and those who don’t. Here’s what I heard…

@HowdyFrom – 1) looking lonely to others 2) not being able to share the experience.

@20sTravel – safety would be number 1 for me. I should add that it’s really my mother’s fear about my traveling alone more than mine

@rtwDave – Serious illness.

@cultoftravel – Fear of being lonely

@Dtravelsround – Getting wallet/pport/etc. stolen w/no support

@Spitfirekixee – Greatest fear re traveling–getting scammed by crafty businessfolk who prey on “tourist-looking” peeps.

@jianantonic – My biggest (only?) solo travel fear is getting lost. Having to figure out an unfamiliar place on my own is nerve-wracking.

And, I love this one…

@vrdeals – 1 fear: having no one to back up all the stories you come home with!

Deconstructing my fears
I still get nervous when traveling alone. I’m not afraid but I am nervous. It’s not for my safety as I trust most people and I’m careful. I’m not anxious about getting lonely because I’m quite capable of starting conversations. I don’t worry about sharing the experience because I know that I will have to relate the stories too often for my liking when I return.

No, my worry is about me being clumsy with my documents and time. I worry about missing flights and misplacing tickets. I don’t think they’ll be stolen, I think I’ll place them down absentmindedly and lose them.

So, with this understanding, I use the appropriate tactics when traveling alone. I plan my time carefully. I use my project management skills and start with the deadline and back up each step of the way along a time line – with extra time built in for the unexpected – to know my starting time. I have also established a specific place for documents every time I travel and developed the habit of using it.

Deconstructing your fears
I invite you to break down your fears about traveling alone the way I have. Get to know them. Dismiss what isn’t real and develop tactics for what is. And watch the “How to Travel Alone” section of this blog for strategies to deal with many fears about traveling alone.