Thailand – What Am I So Afraid Of?

solo travel fears

This is when the nerves hit me. Standing in the check in queue at Heathrow, surrounded by business travellers, couples, and families. I’m all alone, and I’m the only one here alone. Alone in my aloneness. The point of this trip, after all, is that I am alone. It’s supposed to be good for me, in some way or another, to help me “figure things out”. My own foolish words. But now here I am with no plan figured out, heading off into the unknown with only myself to depend on. I’d intentionally put off doing almost any planning in order to avoid the fears that come hand in hand with this trip, so now they hit me all at once. I am completely on my own.

My hands are shaking and I feel a bit queasy. I’m trying to tell myself its because I’m hungry, but we all know that’s not true. I mentioned in last month’s round up post that I’m so scared about this trip it’s going to be February’s tick for my self-inflicted challenge to do one thing a month that terrifies me. But, I’ve been travel blogging for four years, full-time travelling for two, and I’ve taken plenty of trips solo in the past twelve months. So what am I so afraid of?

solo travel fears

Thailand

Well, for one thing, this will be my first backpacking trip solo. The longest I’ve been away for by myself previously was three weeks, and that was in Spain with a suitcase and included a week long press trip with a group of other bloggers. With the exception of a few short trips within Europe, I’ve never really travelled solo. When I backpacked before, it was with my (now ex) boyfriend, so when things went wrong we faced them as a team. I may have been the one in charge of most planning, but I still had someone to rely on and depend on. I don’t deal well with the stress of things going wrong, or not knowing what to do – and I’m terrified to suddenly be completely reliant on no one but myself. It’s going to be good for me (I think) but it’s definitely going to be a struggle. Although in many ways I’m fiercly independant, in many others – especially emotionally – I’m a very dependant person (it’s one of my biggest flaws), and I’m also often shy and generally pretty fearful (my other biggest flaws). The idea of depending completely on myself and my own decisions for the next two months is a pretty scary one.

Speaking of decisions, that’s another thing that worries me. I hate them, even the little ones (should I have a second coffee, should I book the train at 11am or 1pm), and I’ll do anything to get out of making them myself. Even when I know exactly what I want to do, I’ll still try to run things past someone else so that when I make the decision it’ll seem like their’s. For some reason, I just have no confidence in my own ability to make a good decision. Or perhaps I just want a nice buffer for the blame in case things go wrong. All I know is that relying completely on myself for this trip is going to be really tough.

solo travel fears

On the plane, goodbye messages fill me with regret, and as I leave the cold clear night of the UK behind me I leave with sorrow, fear, and uncertainty. But slowly, as we approach Abu Dhabi alongside a sunrise that’s first pastel perfect then suddenly spectacular, something replaces those feelings. Not excitement or anything like that, because this is still the most scared I’ve ever felt, but the feeling that I’m on the right path. Everything in my life has led me to this moment, as with every moment of every life, and now that I’m on this track it can only lead me to where I am supposed to go next. There are no wrong turns or wrong choices in life. I know that, because looking back at my life I can see that even the choices I regret wound up bringing me to exactly where I am and who I am today, and this is exactly who I’m supposed to be. I know that I’m afraid, and I also know that I’m going to be OK. Because I’m the strongest person I know, and because being brave isn’t the absence of fear, but continuing on despite it. And I will always continue on.

I’m in Thailand and Cambodia for the next two months, so don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see exactly what I get up to. First stop is Chiang Mai, and from there who knows – so if you have a great suggestion then get in touch. 

Have you travelled solo before? Let me know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

25 Comments

  1. You rock girl! Go have a wonderful time. By the end of the 2 months, you won’t want to leave. Either way, you’ll come out of it stronger than ever 😀 Can’t wait to follow your adventures!

    • Thanks Henar! It’s the end of my first day here and I’m loving it already! Definitely still nervous about what’s to come, but feeling much better about doing it all solo. I knew that I’d start to feel better as soon as I was here – that’s why I wanted to put the post out at the start of the trip so I can show where I started at compared to where I finish!

  2. Despite all the fears you have, this will be an amazing trip. You have a lot of people rooting for you! Keep posting! And by the way – being shy and fearful are not flaws they are just character traits. Nothing wrong with them at all!

    • Thanks so much Claire 🙂 I’m having an amazing time already and I’m so glad I booked this trip. It’s going to be exactly what I need!

      Also – thanks for saying my flaws aren’t flaws. I guess it’s just too easy to be harsh on myself, but really if I’m shy then that’s just who I am and I should embrace it 🙂 It means a lot that you’re following my journey and wishing me well – hope you’re having a great start to the year!

      Emily x

  3. I went through exactly the same feelings when I embarked on my solo trip in 2014, but those feelings quickly subside. I still look back and think…was that me doing that or someone else? I still struggle to believe that I managed to go around the world on my own for ten months, but I feel a stronger and more confident person because of it 🙂

    • Thanks Nikki! I’m already feeling MUCH better and it’s only been 24 hours. Of course it helps that I’ve met up with a fellow blogger now (Vicky Flip Flop) so we’ve been tearing up Chiang Mai together. I’m really excited to be doing this trip, it’s definitely going to be good for me and I’m sure I’m going to come out of this whole experience stronger than ever. But still it’s really scary at the start – especially having no idea what the future holds! Scary – but good scary 🙂

  4. That is exactly what I feel when I traveled solo to Hawaii night years ago but it was a life-changing experience. And you are already succeeded by making your decision and arriving at Thailand on your own,so the hardest part is gone. The worst part you need to worry (not now but two-month later)is that you prob wont want to leave after two-month hahahaha. Enjoy your trip! .

    • Thanks Julie! I knew it would be fine once I got here, but I was so scared before I landed. Travelling solo after always travelling as a couple seemed like a really scary decision. But I’m so glad I did it, because I’m having an amazing time already. If anything is going to help heal me after last year, it’s this trip 🙂

  5. I too have those feelings Nikki. My first solo trip was 15 years ago and even when looking back at my photos I wonder if it was really me who did all those amazing things!

    • Thanks so much for commenting Suzi! I still can’t believe I made the decision to come travel solo, it’s so unlike me. But I’ve really grown over the last couple of years and it’s all because of travel – so this solo trip can only be good for me 🙂

  6. Thailand is a backpacking Mecca you are going to meet so many people and have such an amazing time you’ll wonder what you were wondering about. Not to mention Cambodia is seriously AMAZEBALLS.

    • Thanks Andrew! I specifically chose Thailand for my first solo trip because it’s so well travelled and full of backpackers that it should be easy to make friends and figure things out etc! More offbeat destinations and trickier places can come when I feel more confident 🙂

  7. You will do great! I love both countries, they are visually stunning, culturally rich. I lived in Bangkok for a while last year, it is fantastic. If you feel lonely at any point, I’d recommend you just find a meet up, or if you are staying in Bangkok for a few days, you can join Bangkok Faces. Very friendly bunch. Enjoy your adventure!

    • Thanks so much for commenting 🙂 Since getting here on Thursday I’ve already had an absolute blast – and I’m starting to feel a lot better about being solo. Still a bit nerve racking but I know it’ll be great! Thanks for the tip about Bangkok Faces too. I have quite a few blogger friends to meet up with the first time I’m there (at the end of this month) but I think I’ll go back for Songkran so it’ll be good to find some friends to meet up with 🙂

  8. thank you for the honest post. I thought I’d be the only solo female traveller out there who is actually scared sh*tless. Bbbrrr my next solo adventure is in May and every time I think about it, a knot forms in my stomach. I’ll hope you’ll be able to continue onwards regardless of the fear but I guess you’ll meet plently of lovely people along the way to hang out with and to run the decisions by them, just to share a bit. Happy travels.

    • Thank you Naomi 🙂 I think a whole lot of us are scared sh*tless but others either pretend not to be or ignore it! Although more women are travelling solo than ever, it’s still a big, scary deal – and I think those of us who are brave enough to go for it should feel extremely proud of ourselves. I know I do! Where are you off to in May?

  9. You will be perfectly fine, I promise! And once you get the hang of it, it will be hard to start compromising again 🙂

    • Haha thank you Claudia! I am sure I will be fine – but it was still very daunting getting on that plane! I’ve never had to compromise when travelling, even when I Was in a couple, though. I think if you find the right travel partner there’s no need to compromise 🙂

  10. Kudos to you Emily for getting out there and doing something even if it scares you. I have traveled solo in my home country, but not to another country. I don’t know how I would feel but, good luck and have a great trip. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Samantha! Every time I do something I was scared of beforehand, I seem to end up having the best experiences. And it’s always so good for me. This was by far the scariest thing I’ve done in terms of travel, but I’m having an amazing time already and it can only leave me stronger and more confident than I was before 🙂

  11. I left my job and decided to visit Australia for a few weeks, that turned into two years. Soon after arriving I realised I could sink or swim, run out of money or quickly gain employment. It’s only when you are faced with such a problem alone that you find the strength to conquer it. Once you’ve done that all the little things and those lonely moments seem pretty easy.

  12. This is such a reassuring post to read! I’m going backpacking for the first time on my own for 3.5 months around SE Asia- and the thought of it absolutely terrifies me now!! I just can’t imagine myself being out there. Glad to know it’s not just me and the feelings are very normal. It’s the right kind of fear. Best of luck, I look forward to following your adventures on your blog!

    • Hi Fina! I should write a follow up post really now that I’ve been on the road for a while. It’s been SUCH an incredible adventure and I’m really glad that I went for it. You will be absolutely fine and have a fantastic trip. But the fears are completely normal and you are definitely not the only one 🙂

      When are you heading off?

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