Why Everyone Should Experience Backpacking Alone
November 5, 2020
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Backpacking alone, or really any sort of travel alone, is a life changing experience that I believe everyone should experience. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, take this as your sign to book that solo adventure now! To avoid any confusion right off the bat, this guide will cover backpacking in the “wear a big backpack and hop from country to country, most likely from hostel to hostel” sense. If you’re looking for tips on backpacking or hiking solo, I’ve compiled a guide here.
Backpacking through Europe or Southeast Asia, or even South America, is the quintessential youth budget trip. However, solo travel can be an adventure at any age. I took my first year long trip at the age of 18, but my first backpacking trip wasn’t until I was 21. I know many travelers who didn’t take their first trip until well into their 30s or 40s.
Interestingly enough, there are far more women who travel alone than men. Probably because females are way more badass, but hey, that’s just a guess! However, this also means that there are usually tons of other solo female travelers to meet when backpacking alone. And don’t worry, I have a guide to smart solo female traveler safety tips to make sure you feel safe.
Making Travel Friends while Backpacking Alone
The biggest misconception about traveling solo is that it is super lonely. I get it, you hear solo travel and immediately picture yourself eating endless meals alone, visiting the world’s top exhibits with only your camera to keep you company. However, solo travel is actually an incredible way to make new, like-minded friends. I have met so many people over the years who have become lifelong friends. I even met my current boyfriend of almost three years while I was backpacking alone in South Korea. I’ve shared my tips on how to make friends while solo traveling here.
If you’re looking to make friends while backpacking alone, then I recommend staying at a hostel. Hostels have gotten a bad reputation over the years, especially among US travelers, but they are amazing for solo travelers. Of course, not all hostels are the same. I recommend doing your research beforehand to make sure that you are finding a place that meets your travel lifestyle. You can read my full guide on how to pick the best backpackers hostel for your travel needs here. I typically book my accomodations through Hostelworld.com or Booking.com. Both of these platforms do a great job of compiling user reviews, so you can get an idea of what to expect.
This next point is going to sound a bit cheesy, but hear me out. Backpacking alone is one of the best ways to engage in self-reflection and self-discovery. Often when we’re stuck in a routine, whether that’s a city you don’t love, a job that isn’t fulfilling, or even a relationship that has turned toxic, it can be difficult to see the situation clearly. Taking a solo trip is an awesome way to take a step back from your routine and see everything from a more removed perspective.
Backpacking alone also helps you to learn so much more about yourself. When you’re traveling solo you call all the shots. There is no one telling you which restaurant to eat at or which museum you have to visit. You may find that you enjoy a slower or faster travel pace, or that there are some attractions that you’d rather skip now that you’re backpacking alone.
Elaborating on my previous section on getting to know yourself, backpacking alone gives you so much freedom. You create your own schedule, in a way that you wouldn’t be able to if you were traveling with others. For me, this has meant booking a last minute flight (literally hours before) to Taiwan, a country that wasn’t even on my travel itinerary. It has meant rising for sunrise every day of the week and eating at the same gelato stand three times in one day. Backpacking alone offers a freedom that few other experiences in life do.
Of course, if you’re not quite ready to head off on a solo adventure on your own, there are baby steps that you can take. Spend the day in your own city, tourist-style. Explore the attractions that you always pass by but never actually visit, enjoy a dinner for one, or take yourself out for a fancy rooftop cocktail.
One of the most stressful parts of travel, especially group travel, is spending money. You know that moment when you’re traveling with a friend, or group of friends, and they recommend a hotel that is above your budget? Or when they choose a restaurant and you cringe at the zeros behind a dish? That is something that never has to happen when traveling solo! You make all of the travel decisions, so you can choose just how much (or how little) you want to spend.
Boost Your Ego
Backpacking alone on a solo trip is an incredible way to boost your ego and gain confidence. No matter how much you plan, something will always go wrong when you travel. Those are just the rules of travel! Being able to navigate those mishaps on your own is such a great way to challenge yourself and gain confidence. Of course, you want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. I’ve put together a list of smart solo female traveler safety travel tips that you’ll want to check out.
Planning Your Solo Trip
Now that I’ve convinced you that you need to experience backpacking alone, here are some thought-starters for planning your next trip:
What is your budget?
Knowing your travel budget is going to play a huge role in the type of trip you’ll be taking. It will also help you to narrow down which countries/cities make the most sense, and how long you are able to travel for.
How much time do you have?
For some people, their budget will play a role in determining how long a trip can be. However, for others, they may only have a handful of PTO days to accomplish their solo adventure. Knowing how much time you have for your trip will help you to narrow down your bucket list from the list of best places for solo female travelers.
What are you looking for out of the trip?
Are you dreaming of an island hopping vacation in Southeast Asia or a trip hiking solo to one of the world’s many peaks? Perhaps your solo trip looks a bit more like a city escape with rooftop drinks and tons of dining. You have the freedom to make all of these choices yourself when you are backpacking alone, so really listen to your heart!
Planning a solo adventure? Here are some other articles you should check out:
- 7 Smart Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips
- Backpackers Hostel: How to Choose the Best Hostel
- Solo Hiking: 9 Hiking Tips for Female Travelers
- How to Make Friends when Traveling Solo