How to Listen and Trust your Travel Instinct in Solo Travel

Last Updated on June 1, 2019 by Christine Kaaloa

travel gut, traveler's iinstinct
Using your travel gut


Everything in life is a gamble. Sometimes, knowing yourself and stubbornly sticking to your principles pays off.

And sometimes, it doesn’t.

Decisions. Some decisions feel particularly challenging, especially when a gamble feels bigger, riskier, ..  Should I trust what this taxi driver says about my hotel burning down? Should I trust this lady to watch my luggage as I go to the bathroom? Do I trust what this policeman is telling me even though he’s led me to a dark shop where men want me to buy things?  Where does friendly advice become a scam or an unassuming stranger become your angel?

Should I or shouldn’t I? What are the consequences if I don’t or do? 

Much like a Rubick’s cube, there’s many ways to approach a decision.

And ultimately, there’s only one answer– either you do or you don’t.  

Listening to and Trusting your travel instincts

Gut(s) or Instinct is something I’ve learned to acquire and hone through traveling alone. Gut, instinct, survival, street smarts, intuition, angels… whatever you want to call it, the differences are subtle enough to feel same.  Maybe it’s a little voice inside your head or a feeling in your body, that lets you know when something just isn’t right …and when it is!

Travel instinct is a survival instinct and mechanism, which quickly surfaces, when we’re in unfamiliar territory, both culturally and environmentally. Our antenna are on high, peaked for danger as if we’re walking in the dark. When entering a foreign country we do not know societal and cultural tripwires, etiquette, bad neighborhoods, etc.. Maybe we forgot to research it and now we’re being tested.

You might be asking- well, how can I get it fast or hone it on my own before taking the leap?

Travel instincts come through experiencing choices. Some are weightier than others, more electrically charged with sensory vibrations. For instance, a bad man with bad intentions exudes that and you may sense it. But because it’s energetic vibes, you don’t understand why you don’t like or trust him. The logic of your mind can only assess– something about him just doesn’t feel right. That’s because his intention traveled faster than his action.

As an ex energy practitioner and believer, thoughts are energy which travel faster than words. Many of us have had that experience of  thinking of a specific person before they actually call us.  I have an uncanny way of knowing when someone is thinking of me and it is not that I’m psychic, but the fact i’ve received that person’s energetic thought of me before they have acted upon it. That is the energy of intention traveling to meet me.  I was open to receiving it and I listened when it came.

Some of us are more sensitive than others- we have open receptors, while others have a protective shell.  A shell is not bad because it protects you, but listening will take a little longer.

With travel  you can hone your travel instincts stronger and faster

The good news is that travel and solo travel in particular, helps you sharpen your instincts. When you are in a foreign country where there is little familiarity and you are alone, your focus and listen to your antennae even more for guidance.


Imagine walking down a dark tunnel. There’s little to no visibility in front or behind you. Your survival instinct automatically kicks into heightened alert and puts out highly sensitive feelers in order to grasp at any bits of information of walls or trip rocks, to avoid face-planting into something dangerous.  A warm breeze or the sound of a bird in the distance alerts you that a decision is at hand. With human interactions, we’re all a little psychic and can sense the energy of others. Some people make us feel calm and others we feel uneasy around, as our bodies pick up their vibe before words are exchanged.

Yes, walk towards it!! “, your gut says, sensing a path or person of safety.

If we’re all in the dark and don’t know what lies ahead in the future, there are certain consequences. You will listen harder, put your sensors out further. As a person traveling alone, you have no other choice but to trust your feeling of things. You have no safety net but yourself.

Thus, travel instinct happen because there are higher stakes and you need them.

Trust happens, because there is no one else.


Read How to Deal with Beggars, Scams, Touts

The guts of a female solo traveler

Traveling alone only strengthens my survival mechanism as I’m forced to rely on myself inwardly. Strength, resourcefulness, quick thinking… when you’re forced to listen to yourself inwardly, you get to know it. The more you use it, you trust it; moreso than your own logic.   Gut is not thinking but feeling.

…. This does not feel like the street I took to get to my guesthouse.

….The tour price I was quoted feels a little too good to be true.

….This person does not feel like they are who they say they are.

….You just passed your bus stop- get off now! 

My travel instinct hone itself on-the-road,  when I dodge scams or when I observe people and put my antenna out to feel out the people I think I want to approach for help.   Listening to it often steers me away from danger into safety or helps me find my way in uncertain territory.

I’d venture to say that developing ‘guts’ was a huge secret perk of traveling alone. Knowing what my ‘gut’ feels like, helps me in daily life situations; it’s been more accurate than a magic 8 ball.

From travel to gut decisions in daily life

If you’ve been keeping up on my Facebook statuses, then you’ll know that last week my job stress was about whether or not I’d take a flight attendant in-person job interview, when it required me to invest in two nights at a hotel (and under a wham-bam pressure cooker itinerary).  The flight itinerary I was given felt quite cruel and beyond the call for any prospective job interviewee. But the knowledge that there are thousands of flight attendant hopefuls, who will gladly open up their pockets for that chance at an opportunity, did not help balance my perspective.  Instead, it made me second guess myself.

I believe in myself as capable, able and qualified, but these interviews are highly scrutinizing to the point, it’s never certain whether you’ll get disqualified for dropping your smile for ten seconds or not answering a question in the right protocol. Flight attendant interviews are like psychology/personality tests. Even if I did  pass the obstacle course of an in-person interview, it doesn’t guarantee a job.  There’s weeks to months of unpaid training of which, at any point I could be disqualified for not meeting standards.

Attending an interview is an opportunity. Rushing and hurriedly throwing your clothes into a bag and spending big sums of money to attend it… is a gamble.

Grrrltraveler fb flight attendant
FB Status

Although I declined the interview and purposely missed my flight, I also sensed there might be a possibility,  they could reschedule me. The logic of my mind said those chances were slim to none, especially as their email to me explicitly said that rescheduling is not possible.  My gut however, felt this opportunity was all wrong; that either there was a 90% chance rescheduling could happen or that another opportunity would present itself.

Even if I couldn’t see it and it defied logic,  I had to trust it.

So I sent a followup email explaining my reasons for not boarding my flight and explained I’d be happy to reschedule a more financially-workable itinerary.  I didn’t hear back from the company that week. Some friends wondered if I didn’t make a mistake.  But every time I started to question whether it was a lost opportunity (whimper), my gut came back feeling even more resolute: Chris, you did right.

Eventually, I received an email from that airlines offering a rescheduled appointment.

A better way existed and my gut led me to it. Hooray for travel guts!   I count my lucky stars for being a solo traveler.

When was a time you trusted your gut and everything turned out okay?


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