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Is Solo Travel With Social Anxiety Possible?

Vernal Falls, Yosemite (photo: Luo Lei)
Vernal Falls, Yosemite (photo: Luo Lei)

Solo travel has become increasingly popular in recent years, primarily among women. It grants a great deal of freedom and confidence for the person traveling by themselves.

However, solo traveling can generate some anxiety. After all, you’re just one person in a place you have never been or aren’t comfortable with yet.

This is even more so the case for people who have social anxiety. With this type of anxiety disorder, doing anything by yourself can be a challenge, let alone traveling.

So, is it possible to solo travel with social anxiety? We’re going to discuss this question in this blog post.

What is Social Anxiety?

Many people struggle with some level of social anxiety. Whether it just be nerves from walking into a room with people you don’t know or feeling incapable of socializing.

But did you know social anxiety is a diagnosable disorder? In fact, over 15 million adults in the United States alone have been diagnosed with social anxiety.

So, even though social anxiety can feel isolating, you are not alone in this type of anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety is defined as an anxiety disorder in which people feel anxious socializing with people who are out of their comfort zone.

According to WebMD, this includes using public restrooms, going to parties, going to school, and even starting conversations.

If you feel anxious to the point where you would rather curl up into a ball in your room during a social interaction, you likely have social anxiety. However, you can’t be sure until you get a diagnosis from a licensed counselor.

Although it may be anxiety-provoking at first, partaking in solo travel can be a great way to overcome your social anxiety.

Admittedly, it can feel nearly impossible, but if you have the means and tools to travel by yourself, it certainly can be done.

Benefits of Travel with Social Anxiety

Believe it or not, solo travel can be the perfect treatment for social anxiety.

Many counselors and therapists believe in Exposure Therapy. This form of therapy includes the patient diving into a situation that usually causes them anxiety or panic.

When it comes to solo traveling, this situation may be a way for you to overcome your anxiety from socializing.

Solo traveling is the perfect way to get out of your comfort zone. Understanding that seeing anyone from where you’re visiting again is slim can help you feel less anxious.

You are in the position to only rely on yourself, and you can leave a situation if you get too nervous.

With solo traveling, you can gain the confidence you need to start conversations with strangers.

You will be forced to go to restaurants on your own and will get more comfortable being by yourself.

Backpackers in Salerno, Italy (photo: Annie Niemaszyk)
Salerno, Italy (photo: Annie Niemaszyk)

How to Meet People

Meeting people is a top concern for people who have social anxiety.

Although you can completely travel alone and exclusively talk to your waiter or concierge, traveling alone is more fun when you meet people along the way.

This is even more so the case when you are traveling for several days.

Here are some ways to meet people when solo traveling:

  • Sign up for tour groups
  • Ask your friends if they know anyone in the area
  • Talk with your waiter or waitress and see if there are any local attractions you should visit or attend
  • Chat with people next to you on the plane, train, or in a restaurant
  • Sign up for an app to meet local friends such as Bumble BFF or Friender

When Not to Travel Solo

It’s important to note that solo traveling may not be for everyone. Even for someone who doesn’t have social anxiety, going to a new place can be frightening.

So, if you feel as though you absolutely can’t travel to a new location alone, solo travel is not for you.

However, if you are determined to get free from the chains social anxiety can put on you, consider going to a nearby location.

This may be a local beach or a local lake. Or, it could be going to the nearby mall. Whatever it is, starting small can help you feel more confident when you conquer the anxiety you’re feeling.

Then, once you start to feel no anxiety when going to local places, you should start thinking about partaking in some solo travel.

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If you feel as though you are ready to travel by yourself, just jump into it. When you are prepared and have an itinerary for what you'll be doing, you'll likely have a great time.

Not to mention, you're exposing yourself to new situations that can help your social anxiety.

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This story is brought to you in partnership with BetterHelp.

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