Updated: Jan 1
A question I get asked a lot, since I travel a lot on my own. The answer isn't a straight forward yes or no, it's a mix of both. But! If you are scared too, I believe you are closer to being ready than you think!
My first thought is yeah it's wild out there and oh hell yeah you've got to be mindful and thinking about some stuff! (Which I'll get in to). This question also couples with "You are so brave" which I hear a lot as well. Whenever I have been met with you are so brave out on the trail/road I am always semi perplexed because it's not how feel at all. I do not feel like I am a brave human. I'm almost always constantly nervous/anxious in the back of my mind. But I'm also nervous/anxious about NOT doing 😂.
So Yes. Yes I'm scared of certain of things during travel alone but there are ways to combat it. I'm also scared of not doing the things I want. read: MORE SCARED. My personal fear often lays more strongly on the side of not doing. It is a level of extra vulnerability being on my own during travel but the personal level of unfullfilment that comes from not doing outweighs the things I can do to best overcome the things that are scary about being alone. In my case, not doing is often far more scary.
Here are some things I do to help myself manage fears of things that do scare me.
1. The thing I believe makes me feel the most comfortable is always sending my updated intended plan with a designated person. In my case it's my Dad. Pick someone you can drop your coordinates too as necessary so there is always something to go off in case Search and Rescue does need to come looking for you. If you don't feel like you have someone to reach out too or if you weren't able to let someone know your plans because there was no cell service you could also leave a note in the dash of your car/hotel/place of return. Saying something like "If this vehicle is still here at this time, I need help." Followed by your personal description.
To really solidify this plan I ultimately would like to be carrying a personal satellite device that can be used when your cell phone won't work. I will update when I begin to work with one of these products but would recommend looking in to it for yourself if you suspect to be off grid a lot! If you travel within cellphone range, then you may be ok without one.
2. Learn about wildlife in the area you are traveling if you will be hiking and what steps you should take in case you encounter them. Remind yourself regularly about the steps for each animal as it can be tricky to remember just reading it once since it's something you don't exactly get to practice. (Thankfully). It took me years to eventually cross paths with a bear on the trail but since I constantly remind myself about them, our experiences were completely ok. I'm not going to get in to each animal, I'll leave that for professionals, just research for your desired area. I will say, DON'T APPROACH ANYTHING, EVER. Or you are seriously asking for trouble.
3. I have a whistle and bear spray on the outside of my backpack. Both are intended as wildlife defence but the whistle also doubles as a way to gain attention from other hikers if I needed help. Having these items helps me feel more calm, that I am at least taking steps to try to keep Riley and I safe.
4. On the inside of my backpack I have a first aid kit/emergency blanket and emergency harness to carry Riley out on my back.
5. TRAVEL MORE. Travel more to work through your fears. The more you go, the more it will get more comfortable and the fears will weaken. I think most things are made up in our minds, and most of the time they don't happen. But the sad part is those made up thoughts stop us! But if something undesirable does happen, you'll find there are good people everywhere ready to help you. And you'll grow stronger and more confident in yourself solving new problems. Which is really cool growth to experience. There's no need to go big. Go for one overnight a few times. Then try a weekend on your own. Stay in a campground rather than rouge camping to start. You'll begin to learn what you need and what is comfortable and fun for YOU!
My closing thoughts are I personally think more can go wrong in a night out on the town WITH people, just some food for thought. If you learn about the outdoors, and are cautious you can be very safe on your own in nature 😊. I also believe being a bit scared actually keeps you safe. So I don't mind being scared, it's a good thing in my eyes. This is how if you're feeling scared too, you may be more ready than you think. Because it will keep you safer. It keeps you alert and aware and smart. (A quick testament to both of those thoughts (very long story short) is when I was much younger and not scared, I got robbed. In a city, with literally hundreds of people walking by. But I wasn't scared before it happened, so I wasn't aware, alert or smart to my surroundings). And I wound up with my belongings stolen. So I'll take some solo camping in nature any day instead please and thank you!
This list cannot be considered a foolproof plan to safety. Only a beginning insight to some things that we do. I hope you'll be able to begin gaining confidence to go alone if it's something you've been dreaming of ❤️.