I always wanted to go travelling and explore the world. It sounds exciting and adventurous but my idea of it always involved going with another person. I think you’ll all agree that travelling alone can be a daunting prospect… In this post I want to share my solo backpacking tips and discuss what it’s like exploring by yourself. Being a solo backpacker was out of the question. I couldn’t fathom going alone, what if I don’t meet anyone, what if I get lonely, won’t it be dangerous, what will people think of me? All these are pretty common thoughts that run through your head. And so when I was in my early to mid-twenties I pretty much decided that it would never happen and put my savings towards other things.
Solo Backpacker Mindset
The late twenties descend upon me, something switched and I cared a little less about needing someone else to hold my hand whilst I see the world. In fact, the idea of going alone was even more exciting and I felt like I had achieved something as soon as I had decided to take the plunge. I was going to be a solo backpacker.
You can always make excuses for why not to go, but trust me, make that decision, book that ticket, do a tiny bit or research in where to go and you’ll soon forget about any worries or reservations you might have had.
Can anyone be a solo backpacker?
You will have many people you know telling you how brave you are and how they wish they were doing it to. In honesty though, most people that said this, could have also done the same, but how many will? It’s about making the decision, having the goal and then working out how to make that goal into a reality. Don’t be one of those people, be spontaneous. You will never regret it and travelling is now a massive part of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, when I arrived in Vietnam on Day 1 of my trip, alone and with Food poisoning, I felt pretty sorry for myself and thought what am I doing here? But that’s pretty normal, as it’s a massive change and shock to your normal environment. You just need a bit of time to adjust and appreciate what’s around you and the amazing position you are in.
Here’s a list of my Solo backpacking tips
This is one of the top solo backpacking tips. A hostel isn’t just the place you rest your head. It’s the place where you spend a lot of time and will probably be where you meet some of your life long traveler friends. The vibe and set up of each hostel is so different. Some will be large and full of lots of people all doing their own thing. Others will feel more homely with a community feel where people cook together and share stories. I like smaller hostels as you are in a cosy space. People tend to chat to each other more than if you are in a huge common room where one person is on one side of the room and the other on the other side 20 metres away. Some of my favorite hostels have had a common room the size of a small living room. This way everybody chats with one another rather than watching the TV. I use Hostel World and read many reviews before deciding where to stay.
Book for One or Two Nights
I always booked for one night if possible. This means that if you really aren’t feeling the vibe of the place and you aren’t meeting people, you can press the reset button and move to another. I have done this so many times and by doing so met some great people who I then traveled for.
Don’t Plan Too Much
Of course if you have a time limit on your trip you have to plan to a certain extent. But if you are flexible it means that you can enjoy your trip more without the worry of time pressure. It also means that if you meet people that you really love, you can change your plans and maybe travel together. Being a solo backpacker is excellent because it means you don’t have to compromise for anyone else. I never like to book my flight or transport out of somewhere until a few days before I leave. To be honest too, the price difference is not really that much. You can just keep an eye on those flight prices through the SkyScanner app.
Spend Time in the Common Room
When you arrive in a new place as a solo backpacker, you want to meet new people. Sit in the common room and scout it out a bit. I know it sounds a bit stalker-ish but I swear everyone must do it. Most people in the hostel want to meet new people. Let’s face it, we travel alone but we don’t want to spend all our time alone. It gets lonely that way. Go up to people, start conversation, ask them about their story, what recommendations they have. Making friends when travelling is easy as you all have that thing in common – a love for travel.
Get a Local Sim Card
This allows you to keep in touch and meet up with people you meet. If you are staying in different places, rather than, agreeing a time when you are in a wi-fi zone and then hoping for the best. Get a sim card so you can message your new friends. They are generally cheap in most parts of the world for a basic data package.
Introduce Yourself to Dorm Mates
You will get new dorm mates all the time. Being a solo backpacker is great, but i still wanted to meet tons of people. I always tried to introduce myself to new dorm mates. This is a really easy way to make friends and an easy solo backpacking tip to adopt. You will proabably have new dorm mates every day.
Don’t Just Follow the Guidebook
Although the Lonely Planet can give you a good foundation and a rough plan, can you always trust what one writer says? A lot of the times the guidebooks are expensive and out of date too. Why not read some blogs, this way you can gauge real people’s experiences. Talk to other travellers. We are everywhere and it’s another way to make friends and share trips. Many of the hostels I stayed at were recommendations. Some weren’t even on a booking site.
Call Family and Friends
Technology is so advanced in this age that the ability to speak with your loved ones is easy. When you are feeling alone, call your best friend or your parents. You will soon realize that you really aren’t that detached and will perk up in no time. It’s also important to maintain your relationships back home whilst you are away. After all, you have to go back some day right…?
I’m sure there’s lots more solo backpacking tips that I have forgotten. If you are a solo backpacker, please share your own in the comments below! If you liked this post, please hit the share button below!