8 Ways to Mentally Prepare for a Solo Adventure

By Marinel de Jesus

Mentally prepare 1Being a solo traveler, and even more so, a solo hiker or backpacker can be an intimidating endeavor to undertake.  I cannot emphasize enough the need to be comfortable when partaking in anything serious such as hiking or backpacking in the wilderness by yourself.  The same goes for traveling as it’s just not worth it to feel overwhelmingly anxious to the extent that it outweighs the joy of traveling or trekking solo.

I, too, have gone through anxiety over being alone on my travels or in the mountains in my prior travels/treks in the past 15 years.  Despite being fully prepared, sometimes, the unexpected happens and the best you can do is to stay calm.  That way you can assess your situation more clearly and decide on the most appropriate action. But before you even dive into going solo on an extended travel or trek, it’s important to take baby steps to get you to a point where solo hiking/traveling falls within your comfort zone.   Here are some of my tips based on my own personal experience with hiking/trekking/traveling solo that will help prepare you mentally for the solo experience:

Start small

If you are completely new to traveling or trekking solo, then start out with a day hike or day trip.  Then, as you feel more comfortable with solitude and organizing the logistics of your hike or travel, you can build that up by adding more days, thereby transforming it into a weekend trip.  There’s no reason to go extremely extravagant on your first time hiking or traveling solo.

Why would you want to spend so much money on a 4-week solo trip only to find out that you dread the experience of going alone?  Avoid regrets and do a test run first.  Start with a day or two, and then build up.

Mentally prepare 2

 

Study your itinerary

Sure, at some point you will want to be spontaneous. Book the flight and go.  But to calm down that anxiety from going solo, it’s recommended that you do plenty of research on your destination or the trail you wish to hike.   You can never have enough information, especially if the place you’re traveling to or hiking in is a first time destination.  Even with a place you have been to before, I would still recommend doing plenty of research because oftentimes when we go with people, we tend not to pay attention to the logistics the way we normally would when it’s only us that we have to rely upon for guidance.

Mentally prepare 6

 

Get advice and tips from others who have been to the trail or place you are eyeing

Mentally prepare 7This is part of your research and it’s crucial to take advantage of any resources that are out there for you to learn about the trail or place.  For example, when I went to China, the resources for the trails in that country were hard to find because it was either the trails were still unknown to the western world or the blogs or information were written in Mandarin.  However, still, I managed to find a few websites which turned out to be heaven sent as they helped significantly in planning my trip.  An equally better resource is, of course, an actual consultation with someone who had been to the trail or place of your choice.  The advice given is usually invaluable as you won’t find such information online or anywhere else.  Note that most people are more than happy to share their travel wisdom and experiences so there’s no reason to be shy.

 

Learn to love yourself

Somewhere along the way on your trek, travel or both, you will get frustrated with yourself.  You will make mistakes here and there.  Before you venture out on your own, it is important to have a good grasp of self-love.  By that, I mean, learn to be easy on yourself.  Be forgiving of your mistakes and learn to go with the flow of life.  Understand that mistakes are inevitable including yours, and that’s okay.  In addition, loving yourself also means taking care of you.  While on the trail or the road, eating healthy and maintaining a workout routine are critical.

Mentally prepare 3

 

Learn to smile and be friendly

This should really be a given even if you’re traveling with others.  But in the world of solo trekking or traveling, a friendly demeanor can truly save you at times.  A smile can easily attract the right stranger to help you with directions or a fellow hiker who can become your trail friend for days.  At the same time, be mindful of the level of friendliness that you are exhibiting, especially if you are a female who finds herself interacting with a male.  An appropriate level of friendliness is the key.  Practice smiling and chatting with strangers in your daily life and you’ll soon make this a habit that will carry over to your solo adventure with ease.

Mentally prepare 4

 

Practice fine tuning your intuition

Mentally prepare 5Expect chats and interactions with strangers when you venture on your own.  It’s part of the adventure, and in most instances, it’s really the highlight.  Oftentimes, the people you strike a conversation with in far-away places or in the middle of nowhere are exactly the ones that become your long-time friends.   At the same time, learn to pay attention to your intuition.  You have it for a reason.  Your intuition is your imaginary friend – it knows better than you at times even though the actual circumstances in front of you may not clearly support the sense of danger that your intuition is warning you about.  So, listen to that intuition the same way you listen to your body when you feel pain.  It is nagging you for a reason.

 

Disregard all the above preparation and go for it (assuming you keep an open mind)

Having said all the above tips, you can still opt to disregard them all and just take the leap into the abyss of solo traveling/trekking.  By doing so, you will learn at a faster rate all the above.  It’s a crash course that can potentially maximize the lessons learned in a little bit harder way.  As long as you are aware of the risks, then, sure, why not just go for it all at once?

So, there you have it.  This list is just a start.  Preparing your mind for that solo adventure is as important, if not more, as the things you put in your backpack.  So, take the time to prep!

Mentally prepare 8

 

Be Sociable, Share!

32 thoughts on “8 Ways to Mentally Prepare for a Solo Adventure

  • November 29, 2017 at 1:54 pm
    Permalink

    Your post is very inspiring to me specially. I have not traveled solo till now and the problem is that I am not mentally prepared. As you have suggested, start with a small trip which I liked. The ‘Just do it’ approach is also good without thinking too much. Believing in intuition is a great advice because there are no specific rules of do’s and don’ts.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2017 at 6:02 am
    Permalink

    You know, it is funny coz I never really had to think so much before I took my solo trips. It was always a sense of adventure and never once did I hesitate. However, I guess for someone who is starting out new and has some misgivings, these steps should help. Well captured.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2017 at 4:39 pm
    Permalink

    I did a lot of small trips before I went on my 6 week long solo trip. That is why I love your tip on starting small. It definitely helps. I always trust my intuition and it has saved me from a lot of mistakes on my solo trips. Love all these tips and a smile is always handy for solo travelers like us.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm
    Permalink

    Very helpful tips! I’ve never travelled solo. Thinking about solo travelling scares the hell out of me. But after reading your inspiring post, I think I must try this at least once. 🙂

    Reply
  • November 27, 2017 at 3:43 am
    Permalink

    These are such empowering tips. It can be very intimidating to travel alone, especially as a woman, and I think starting small is a great way to start!

    Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 10:05 pm
    Permalink

    I really agree with all of these tips. My first solo adventure was filled with so much planning, but it still didn’t feel like enough! This is even more true on hiking and adventure excursions, where the risk of injury or getting completely lost is higher than when you’re wandering a city. I’ve never really considered doing a big hiking or camping trip alone before, but now I’m kind of motivated to start building up the skills like you suggested and give it a try in the future!

    Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm
    Permalink

    I normally travel to cities and populated areas as a solo traveler, so can visit a 7 eleven for food etc… For your kind of travel there is an element of survival which you need and I can imagine you need to prepare differently than I do! I can imagine when you were trekking in China how difficult it was not understanding the language or being able to read it. I struggled just to take a taxi there! I can imagine how valuable the small pieces of information you found were to you surviving on your trek. Eating healthy and traveling is something I really need to work on!

    Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 9:12 am
    Permalink

    I like to think I’m a brave traveller by going solo on some trips, but this is on a whole different level. I can’t imagine going on a hiking trip alone, and having no-one in the wilderness to rely upon! Still, Marinel has covered some great tips, especially about trusting your intuition. I can totally relate to this when travelling, and at home too. It’s always important to love yourself, at home and away 🙂

    Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 3:13 am
    Permalink

    I have a lot of friends who are into solo travel lately. I am inspired by them and would love to try it out for myself soon! I guess I can start with your tips here!

    Reply
  • November 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    Permalink

    These are great tips as I am just getting into camping so I will bookmark this before my next big trip.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 4:06 am
    Permalink

    These are all great tips for those wanting to travel on an adventure solo. I used to pack up and go on adventures when I was younger and had the money for traveling but never left the U.S. before. You should always make sure someone knows your every move though when you are going solo. Thanks for sharing the information.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 2:39 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for the ideas! I never thought about going solo but hey, that would sure be nice : )

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 1:44 am
    Permalink

    I have traveled solo many times and I think this is great advice, not only for first-time solo travelers, but for experienced ones as well. Sometimes I don’t follow all of these tips, but I think some of my solo adventures would’ve been better if I had.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 9:33 pm
    Permalink

    Those are good things for going solo. I am not sure that would be my cup of tea. I have traveled solo but ended in places where I knew people who were there.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 2:32 am
    Permalink

    Wow, what beautiful photos from your journeys! I’m a very anxious person, so I don’t know if solo travel is in my future, but good for you!

    Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 1:24 am
    Permalink

    How awesome! You are so brave and may you continue to have safe travels!

    Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 11:52 pm
    Permalink

    I’m planning a solo trip to Boston this spring. At first, I was really nervous to travel alone since I’ve never done that before. After talking to my friends who’ve been on plenty of solo trips before, I think it will be very cathartic and fun!

    Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    Permalink

    Lovely tips here. I plan to go on a solo trip soon. Maybe for a weekend or so. Think I would need the break.

    Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm
    Permalink

    The internet is full of posts about practical things to do before your first solo trip and they always forget the importance of being mentally ready! So thank you so much for filling this gap 🙂

    Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 12:28 am
    Permalink

    These are such great tips! I love the idea of solo travel (and envy that my mama does it so well) but I’m always so nervous to actually give it a try. I love your idea of starting small with a dayhike and then a weekend hike, and building your way up!

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 6:25 pm
    Permalink

    These are great trips!! I haven’t taken a solo trip just yet, but would. Although I think I’m still too scared to do a backpacking trip on my own. I know I’d weird myself out in a tent hearing all the noises outside, haha! Love your photos and attitude.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm
    Permalink

    These are wonderful tips for solo travel! Traveling is such an amazing experience and sometimes it’s blissful to just be on your own.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 12:11 pm
    Permalink

    I wish there were more great places to hike around here. With all the farmland, everything is so flat!

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 9:43 am
    Permalink

    Great tips for starting out – I love the idea about starting small and leading up to bigger trips. And learning to love yourself and enjoy your own company is so important, a little bit of self belief/reliance can be such a mental boost!

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 8:59 am
    Permalink

    I agree with your tips! Start small is the basic step! Once you get used to it, you can gradually increase your travel goals.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 8:55 am
    Permalink

    I agree with all the points mentioned here. The most important – loving yourself and taking small trips. I have travelled solo and know the hard emotions of being alone. But in the end, it teaches a lot. Nice Read.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 6:47 am
    Permalink

    Love these tips, I personally try to start small and get advice from the one who have actually tripped those places earlier. They come really handy.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 5:31 am
    Permalink

    Since having kids, I don’t think I’ve taken any solo adventures. I used to love the ability to change my plans at will, spending time where I was engaged and skipping the places I found less interesting. Reading through your tips is making me yearn for hitting the open road solo.

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 4:57 am
    Permalink

    These are fabulous solo traveling tips that really make a lot of sense to give a person the confidence! Thanks for sharing:)

    Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 12:13 am
    Permalink

    Thanks this is really helpful tips, I’ve never been solo traveling before bc I think I’m too scared.

    Reply
  • November 17, 2017 at 10:48 pm
    Permalink

    I love your last tip, that would totally be the one I would follow. I think it’s so brave to travel solo but also so exciting!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *