Solo Travel: What is frightening me about this trip?

Solo travel is nothing new to me. So then, why am I so anxious about this trip? At a tourism conference, I learn a way to become more innovative. Could asking myself, “What could get worse?” really help? 

Solo travel is scary, or not?

solo woman in white dress looks at montage of waterfalls

“I have to say that I’d be really scared to travel that far alone,” said Donna, a girlfriend who’d just asked where I was going next.

“I understand how you feel,” I replied. “I felt the same way last month when I booked my tickets from Phoenix to Thailand.” But I’ve found that sometimes you have to just do it. Disregard the fear and proceed. Maybe I should have told her that. But what I did say was,

“I’m scared, too.”

Arizona travel writer Stacey Wittig stands far away from Asian elephant eating in the forest at Chang Chill elephant sanctuary
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey views elephants in their natural environment at Chang Chill near Chiang Mai in Thailand in 2019

“This will be my third time to Thailand, but the other times were with a Media Trip. I’d meet my host in LA or San Francisco and then travel with them to Southeast Asia. So I’ve never done it solo before,” I confessed.

So ever since I purchased my flight, I’ve had this underlying anxiety. So I’m trying to put my finger on what is frightening me about this trip.

For starters, I’m scared of trying to navigate the Bangkok airport on my own. One of the times that I was there, it was so overwhelming that I left my card in the ATM. (I like to get cash at the airport ATMs rather than pay exchange fees to my bank before I leave home. Fortunately, for my upcoming trip, I have plenty of Thai bhats from my previous trip to get me through the first few days.)

RELATED: Don’t Miss these Five Joyful Experiences in Bangkok, Thailand

Solo travel in Bangkok

Bangkok

I’m also afraid of the language barrier. I’m scared that I won’t be able to navigate] Bangkok’s public transportation system. To avoid that, I booked my flight from BKK to Phuket with no layover day in Bangkok. I’m much more comfortable finding my way in a smaller city than in metropolises like the Thai capital city.

I probably won’t be perusing the 10 Best Rooftop Bars Bangkok Including Sky Bar Bangkok. Like I did when I was traveling with a group of journalists and bloggers.

Further, the thought of me, a solo woman traveling Thailand, is rather terrifying. I booked the TBEX bloggers conference in Phuket, thinking I would meet up with bloggers I met in Spain last summer. But as it turns out, not many are going to Asia. It’s probably that darn high airfare. Regardless of the reason, if I want to find a travel buddy for after the conference, I’ll have to make new friends. But, hey, that’s what I did at the last meeting in Spain. Can you tell I’m trying to quell my own fears?

Annual DiscoverFlagstaff tourism conference

logo with text reading "ECOTOURISM: Flagstaff

I was just at the annual DiscoverFlagstaff tourism conference and keynote Bill Stainton talked about releasing the innovation within each of us. (Not a blessed few.) So, to become thinking like an innovator, Bill suggested that we ask ourselves the question, how could this get worse?

What could get worse?

Hmmm, let me put on my thinking cap. I miss my connection in Toyko; that’s how the situation could get worse. I miss my connection, and my bag goes onto Thailand without me. Then I test positive for COVID and put in quarantine in Japan for a week. Oh, heck, make the quarantine 14 days. So then I miss the conference in Phuket, where it turns out one of my articles was awarded “best of TBEX” and earned me a free round-the-world cruise. But I must be present to win.

RELATED: Bill Stainton: Empowering Innovation in Everyone

Let's just imagine what could get worse in this solo travel scenerio

Meanwhile, back in quarantine, my captives, or healthcare hosts, take my only change of clothes to the laundry. It’s been almost two weeks, after all. They lose my clothes. I need to get on my flight back home in two days. They bring me clothes from the lost and found. But they’re too small. This is Japan, right? So I picture myself naked, walking through the airport. That hurts my brain, so I ask my hosts if they would buy me some appropriate clothes. After 24 hours, they return and report that they could find no clothes that would fit me within the budget I allotted them. I half wonder if I could make it to LAX in the hotel bathrobe and buy clothes there. So I give them more money.

I am finally released from COVID jail in my new Japanese clothes, and my Uber driver is taking me back to the airport. Unfortunately, he can’t understand what I am saying and takes me to the wrong airport. OK, I am getting stressed out just thinking, “how could this get worse?” So I guess I better stop this exercise while I am ahead.

Travel is a creator of new thoughts, ideas and understanding

Trace Ward at the 2022 DiscoverFlagstaff tourism conference

Before Bill’s presentation, which included the Trace Ward quote above, I went and introduced myself. Bill asked about my travels and, of course, where I was going next. This is the universal question I get when I am introduced as a travel writer: “Where are you going next?” Even old friends ask this question—remember how this story started? So why don’t people want to hear about where I just was?

My mind is much more full of my latest experiences than my upcoming travels. Heck, I usually have so many trips on the docket I can’t always remember with certainty where I’m going next. But, of course, that might have something to do with my brain injury or that I’ve taken Alert Einstein’s advice to “Never memorize something that you can look up.”

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide for Viewing the Thai Royal Barge Processional

Relating to the anxiety that holds people back from solo travel

Bike rider near canal on Bangkok Bicycle tour
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey in Bangkok, Thailand 2018

To get to the point, I told Bill that I was going to Phuket, and although this would be the third time visiting Thailand, I was pretty darn frightened to go.

“I’m very comfortable in Western Europe,” I said. “It’s like my second home. But going to Thailand solo is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

“Now I can better understand how my readers feel when they tell me they’re scared to go to Europe. I can relate better to the anxiety that holds my followers back from solo travel,” I added.

“That’s such a good way to handle your apprehension,” Bill encouraged. “Using your own fears to better help others.” I felt the admiration in his eyes and took the compliment to heart.

How can I help others overcome their fear of traveling? Let me think on that. Please leave your comments below:

woman stands on rooftop with Med sea in background

Hi, I’m Stacey

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel is a travel blog focused on immersive travel that highlights food, wine and the spirituality of place. I also occasionally write about life as a Camino de Santiago pilgrim. I hope you enjoy what I post here. Feel free to leave comments! Read more…

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Solo Travel: What is frightening me about this trip?

Solo travel is nothing new to me. So then, why am I so anxious about this trip? At a tourism conference, I learn a way to become more innovative. Could asking myself, “What could get worse?” really help?  Solo travel is scary, or not? “I have to say that I’d be really scared to travel

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6 thoughts on “Solo Travel: What is frightening me about this trip?”

  1. Stacy, I’m a local Flagstaffer (45 years only- not nearly a native) and have been traveling solo for some years. I relate to this completely, and know that it’s just something that can get into your head. A terrible incident can make it worse, and I hope you never have one. I have, and all was well in the end.

    Nothing you say here is terrible here. Even if all of this were to happen, it’s just experience! So keep on traveling and I hope you do get a free round-the-world trip from an article!

    Also, we have some mutual friends, we should meet up sometime at the FLG airport!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments, Bonnie. I would love to learn more about your experience! Yes, let’s meet up sometime after I get back from Thailand. Thanks for your encouraging words!

      Reply
  2. This year would have been my first trip without my husband. I was very anxious! Then I broke my ankle and got covid. So I stayed home. I hope I’ve done all my prep anxiety so when I book for next year it is smooth sailing.

    Reply
  3. Stacey. This article made me laugh but also made me realize that you need praying friends. And you know I am one of those. I also want to remind you that you are never truly alone. For the wonderful spirit of Jesus is with you always.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your prayers, Valorie! I soooo appreciate your prayer intercession! I am never truly alone! That is so true. He is always with me! Please keep praying for me, my friend. I need some physical healing.

      Reply

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