Backpacking alone – my thoughts as a solo traveller
I hear questions all the time about backpacking alone. Is it safe? Don’t you get bored on your own? Don’t you get lonely? How do you meet people? The types of people who ask these questions are usually people who struggle to be outgoing without the comfort of their friends. I used to be the same, until I got sick and tired of being let down, or put in situations I didn’t want to be in. I wanted to go the cinema; I wanted to go on a night out around town; I wanted to go to a music festival; I wanted to do a lot of things, but my friends were not always available. This used to mean I just didn’t go, until one day, I thought, “you know what, I’m not waiting around for anyone anymore, if I want to do something, I’ll do it with or without my friends.”
That for me was a turning point in my life, the point where confidence in myself started to grow. I remember the first time I went on a night out on my own, I was so nervous, hoping nobody would realise I was alone. After I overcame the initial nerves, I actually enjoyed more, going out on my own, than with my friends. Why? Because I was free to do whatever I liked, and it improved my confidence, as I was put into a social environment which forced me to socialise. It was either that, or be the “weird” guy who stands in the corner all night. From that point on, I stopped caring what others thought of me, and most of my interests I pursued alone. Whether it be going the cinema to watch a film, going fishing for the day, or going to a musical festival, being alone just didn’t matter anymore.
So when I took an interest in backpacking, going alone was not a problem, but from knowing the person I used to be, I can totally understand why people would ask me such questions regarding my solo travels. Is it safe to go backpacking alone? My response to that would be, “Do you have any common sense?” as that’s all you need to help avoid dangerous situations. Of course, sometimes you might end up in a dangerous situation, but if you have done your research, and you’re prepared for the situation, then you’re more likely to come out of it safe and well.
People have asked, “Don’t you get bored on your own?” Of course I get bored, but being alone doesn’t make it any more boring. Actually, I probably get less bored on my own, as I am always doing the things I want to do. If I find myself getting bored, I remind myself of all the things I enjoy doing, and choose one to pursue for a few while. If I find myself becoming bored too often, it’s usually time to move on to a new place. Some places just feel right, and I will stay for longer than usual, feeling very content. Others will not, and I will leave after a few days.
Another question people ask is, “How do you meet people?” For me, I’ll talk to anyone, as I now find conversating easy, but I can understand the question if you were shy and not used to talking to people you didn’t know. The best way to meet people is to stay in hostels, preferably dormitories where you’ll be surrounded by likeminded travellers. All you have to do then is open your mouth, and more often than not, you’ll start hanging out with your new travel buddies around town.
Backpacking alone was never meant to be easy, you’ll take on all the problems you face alone, but I can assure you it will make you a stronger person with more life experience, and a better understanding of yourself, your values, and hopefully, your overall direction in life. Now I’m not saying backpacking with others is a bad thing, it’s great to share experiences, but you will find a lot more opportunities will be open to you if you’re travelling solo, all you have to do is take them.
Good luck and safe travels.
Peace and love,