We’ve heard it said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Most of us aren’t naturally confident in unfamiliar situations, and like anything in life, confidence is learned through practice. Travelling solo has become a norm, but its not an easy thing to do, especially for someone who’s a little shy.

The best way to overcome shyness is by doing one brave thing at a time, no matter how small a feat. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, so here are some ways to help you venture out of your comfort zone.

1. Travel to places where people are friendly

Although, generally speaking, most people around the world are friendly by nature, some countries are a little more welcoming to the solo traveller than others. So, if it’s your first time travelling alone, pick a place where you know you’ll meet lovely people.

Southeast Asian countries are a haven for solo travellers. Booking a trip here will likely land you a few new friends, whether a local shop vendor or fellow globe trotter.

2. Stay where other solo travellers stay

Instead of booking a luxury hotel or resort where you’re likely to keep to yourself, look for accommodations where you might have the chance to meet people. Oftentimes, you will find other solo travellers in dorms, backpacker hotels, and hostels. While dorms allow you to stay with fellow travellers, hostels are a good alternative if you prefer a little more privacy.

It’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals, and you may just find yourself making more friends than you thought possible. Hostel World is a great way to connect with people before going on your trip.

3. Book a retreat or sign up for a class

When you’re a shy traveller, resisting the urge to cocoon inside your room can be a daily struggle. Booking a retreat or signing up for a class is a great way to motivate yourself to get out and explore. Joining in on something encourages you to follow through with your plans and not to cave in when shyness takes over.

Consider taking a cooking class in a local neighbourhood, or join a wellness retreat on a tropical island. Beach clean-ups in the mornings are a regular activity in some hotels across Malaysia and are always a fun experience to partake in. You can even sign up for a group surfing class if your destination is by the beach.

4. Give yourself a travel exercise

It’s easy to go just about anywhere in the world these days and speak to no one but Google. With maps, travel blogs, TikToks, and reels giving us endless recommendations, stepping out of your comfort zone may feel unnecessary. Here’s a little exercise that will encourage you to be a little more confident:

  1. Speak to a receptionist and ask them to recommend restaurants and nearby attractions.
  2. Go to the said restaurant and ask the waiter what their favourite thing is on the menu and order it.
  3. Make your way to an attraction site and ask a local to tell you more about the place.

People love talking about where they come from; asking questions is a wonderful way to break your shell. It also allows you to learn about a place from the people who know it best.

5. Explore communal hangout spots

Instead of ordering room service, head out to a local beach club for drinks, sit down for a cup of coffee at a garden centre cafe, or dine out at food centres with communal seating. Tiffin At The Yard is an excellent place to do just that in Kuala Lumpur. They host regular community-based events that allow you to meet people, participate in fun activities, eat good food, and have a good time.

6. Use your existing networks or join a travellers group online

Even the shyest of people feel free to be their whole selves when surrounded by friends. So try to make friends wherever you go. While planning a trip, ask family and friends if they can connect you with someone they know in the place you’re travelling to.

Having a mutual connection to show you around places can take the edge off some of your concerns about travelling alone. Alternatively, there are so many travel platforms online where you can meet and connect with people who might be in the same country you’re in.

The Solo Female Traveler Network, Wild Women Expeditions, Adventure Women, and Nomad Her are just a few examples that cater to the female traveller. But a quick search on Facebook is also great when looking for fellow travellers in your area.

7. Take breaks often

Breaking out of your usual patterns and trying something new can be exhausting, so allocating time for rest is crucial. Take some time to be alone and indulge in what you love. At the end of the day, travelling is meant to be fun.

Give yourself grace, take each day as it comes, and celebrate the little wins. Shy or not, no trip is wasted — everything is simply an opportunity to learn and grow.