Solo backpacking is something extremely different for everyone. Some love it, some hate it, some don’t even think it matters. It largely depends on how you think and how you see the world and travelling.
But personally, for me, I think solo travelling has been the most liberating experience ever. Maybe this sounds over-optimistic but it is what it is for me. I could not stop finding enough reasons why solo backpacking is a life-changing experience.
I get this question a lot, how do I enjoy my solo trips in unknown countries between unknown places and almost with the unknown language spoken around.
Well, the simple answer would be, I just love all of this, but it remains unanswered for many who cannot yet find the courage to do the same. So this is a little blog post for you to get inspired to travel solo, at least once in a lifetime, and enjoy the magic of being in an uncomfortable and unknown zone.
So first things first, why solo trip when you have amazing family and friends to go with?
Well, the comfort zone is something we all love and revolve around in almost everything we do and I think even if you have friends and family to travel with, solo travelling will enable you to take your care in unknown situations that you may never encounter being with someone close.
You need to think of minute details, maybe as simple as who will take care of your carry on luggage while you want to use the restroom? Who will wake you up if you overslept on a layover? Will you help a stranger if he wants you to hold his bag for a minute? This might sound simple situations but when going through them alone, they make you learn a lot about other people and mainly about yourself. You get to observe what you would do when no one is there to support you apart from strangers all around.
Now one would ask, how come above situations not make you lonely on your trip and how is it something good in it if you are always alert and bit scared? Again, I would say it largely depends on how you see life overall, because for me, everything strange and scary is something new to learn. But apart from personal perception, I think it teaches you to work on trust and make conversations with people around you (sometimes forced and sometimes volunteered). It makes you social out of boredom or intrigues you to learn so much about other parts of the world which you could never do if not travelling solo.
I always get a question that how do I enjoy the trips alone and why I always say they are not solo or where do I find new people to talk with or roam with. So I have jotted down all the places I have made incredible friends personally and think these are among the best places to start and make friends wherever you go in the world:
– Flight Boarding Gates – Trust me, when everyone is going to the same destination, it’s really easy to start a conversation as there are a lot of common parameters.
– Flights – This is no brainer, people sitting beside you are great potentials to talk and maybe make some plans on the go.
– Hostels – Backpacking hostels are the most amazing places to meet any type of people and you will never feel alone if you book shared dorms as conversations are bound to happen in those places.
– Group Tours – Pick tours which are group tours, so you meet like-minded people doing similar things like you and usually most tours have activities which give you ample chances to make new friends.
– Cafe’s/ Clubs – There are moderate chances you meet people in clubs and cafes as these places are most relaxed and welcoming for any conversation and friendships.
– Meetup Local Events – Meetup.com lets you join any meetup’s happening around for any topic for free or some minimal fee. In most parts of the world, you will find meetups happening for travellers, solo backpackers, or around any topic you are interested in.
– Travel Social apps – There are many travel apps and websites like travelbuddy.com which helps you find people travelling in the same countries/ Cities.
The conversations from different people you take home are the most liberating experience you will have because you will be amazed at what people share about local conditions/ facts which you wouldn’t know otherwise.
So I think solo backpacking is never solo if you take efforts to be a bit of extrovert and start conversations wherever suitable and look for opportunities to enjoy a variety of colors of travelling.
Plus you make a lot of connections from different parts of the world which in turn help you when you plan to visit those countries, as you will have someone local whom you have already met personally and can be trusted to get help for local tips. And who knows, someone might even host you for free based on the friendship you made while travelling.
So in short, you may be traveling one country, but making the potential for many different parts of the world at the same time!
Please share what you think of these thoughts and any insights I might be missing or any of your solo backpacking experience which turned out beautiful.