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How to overcome the insecurities of traveling alone in Asia?

by Chery

Question: Basically, I am turning 18 soon and it has been a long time dream of mine to backpack across Europe alone after I graduate. Until recently it was just on of those things I never thought i would do, but now, I am more determined than ever to do it!

So, in order to prepare myself, I thought, why not start backpacking around Asia. I mean, I live in Singapore, so it's definitely closer and somewhat less scary? Yeah, still I am quite scared to start backpacking alone.

With that, I guess this brings me to my main purpose of this email here. How did you overcome the insecurities of traveling alone in the first place?

I mean like, you're in a new unfamiliar place, you don't know anybody, you don't know the language, worse, you wouldn't know the dangers that might be lurking. I've heard a lot of stories about how some locals prey on lone travelers.

I don't want to black out one day and wake up to find a scar and a kidney missing! Also, I've heard of a lot of backpackers being kidnapped and all. I always thought that it might be a little impractical for a girl to go backpacking alone, considering the dangers and all.


Answer: When I traveled alone in 2007/2008, I was in Pai in Thailand when my last travel companion "left me." I could have traveled with her but I didn't want to. I had traveled for four weeks with company and during these weeks, I learned the way to backpack and how to be safe. THAT knowledge made it easier to think that I would manage for myself.

After she left, my first thoughts weren't: Is it dangerous? My thoughts were: Who am I going to share my experiences with now?

I already had traveled for a month (India and Thailand) and knew the traveling circumstances. But I have to admit that when I traveled alone in Cambodia I was afraid because I had read and heard so much bad things about Phnom Penh. I even booked most nights at a hotel (just because I was afraid). But there was nothing particularly bad about it at all, it was just like any other city in the world... So all my worries about Phnom Penh were just ridiculous.

I can understand that traveling alone can be scary. But you just have to pass that first fear by getting on that plane. It's like riding a bike for the first time! Once you get a hold of it and see that it's not that dangerous as the media and rumors want it to be, you'll almost forget that you're traveling alone!

When it comes to crime and safety, think about this way: Which places in the world are safe...? My answer to you: No places are safe. Not even in Singapore... ;-)

Bad things can happen to anyone and anywhere. Your main goal when traveling alone is to keep you out of trouble -- that alone can make you survive. That was at least my motto when I traveled :-)

Yes, backpackers have been kidnapped, but what were the circumstances...?

Like this guy, a British guy who got kidnapped in India was walking down an alley when he got kidnapped.


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