Top 5 Tips for Going Backpacking Solo
Written by Tracey Bell
Travelling solo can be one of life’s most eye-opening, mind-expanding, joyful experiences. This article will give you some suggestions to overcome the trepidation you may experience, especially as a woman, when deciding to venture forth on your own. The best advice: Go for it!
5 Ways To Set Yourself Free And Travel Solo
1. Make Smart Decisions
You make smart decisions at home every day about what to spend money on, whether a situation feels safe, who to trust or not, etc. Bring these smarts with you on your travels – don’t sell your brain for a plane ticket! Even if you are on a budget, sometimes it is better to spend a little extra to stay in a more secure hotel or take a taxi at night.
2. Meet People
Most of my travels have been solo, yet I have rarely felt lonely. Using networks like Couch Surfing has helped me connect with fellow travellers and hosts who have been happy to hang out and show me their home town. In backpacker hostels, the communal spaces provide opportunities to strike up a conversation and even in hotels, there is usually a pool or a bar to linger at to find someone to chat with.
3. Use A Guidebook
Lonely Planet, Let’s Go, Rough Guides, DK, Bradt.... there are so many guidebooks on the shelves of your local bookshop there is no excuse for not being well-informed about a place. It’s true that not everything should be taken as gospel (indeed prices are often out of date even before the book is published) but it gives you a good idea of what to do, where to stay, where the good food is, where to find banks and most other information you want when you get off an overnight bus/train/plane. Often they have some sample itineraries to help you get the best of a destination.
4. Join A Tour
If the thought of doing everything yourself and fumbling your way through a destination is totally off-putting, there are plenty of tours all over the world to suit any taste, style, and personality. Depending on the type of tour you choose, you will be issued with six or sixty travel buddies to keep you from getting lonely during your travels. Often taking a tour will put your family’s hearts and minds at rest as you embark on your solo trip ... but don’t feel forced to take a tour if you really want to experience total freedom.
5. Take Time Out
Travelling solo can be exhausting as you are making all the decisions yourself, you feel like your guard must always be up, and you are often putting yourself in uncomfortable situations (going to restaurants alone, striking up conversations with strangers, etc). So it’s important to take time out to nurture yourself. It’s supposed to be a holiday as well right?!
Being quite shy, stepping out of my comfort zone to meet people was a massive challenge. Couch Surfing has been my staple travel site since 2006 because it gives me the opportunity to connect with local people and get to know a place on a deeper level. Through this network, I have made life-long friends who I know I can call on the next time I might be flitting through on a long layover. Armed with a guidebook and a local, I feel like I get to see the best of a destination – both the tourist sites and the best restaurants, bars and other bits of ordinary life. When I travel, my focus is on connecting with the culture, and so this style suits me. Of course when meeting locals online one must be careful, but reading profiles and references thoroughly and trusting my instincts has kept me safe and provided me with the most wonderful opportunities and experiences.