If you’re craving adventure in exotic and unknown destinations, nothing beats the independence and freedom of solo backpacking. In the words of Mark Twain, “Explore. Dream, Discover”. This is exactly what backpacking solo is all about.
Backpacking alone will give you a wealth of experiences and opportunities to explore new places, people and culture. That said, if you’re a first-time backpacker, it may sound very exciting – and no doubt, it will be! Backpacking solo can be liberating as well as a little scary, but there’s nothing to worry about if you’ve planned properly and are prepared.
Here are some basic tips that can go a long way in ensuring you have a great time.
01. Pick an Appropriate Solo Backpacking Destination
Depending on the duration of your backpacking trip and the money that you may have budgeted, you need to choose a destination accordingly.
For instance, Southeast Asia is a mecca for solo backpackers considering how far their money can go. 40% of backpackers choose Europe for shorter trips while, 33% choose North America/Canada and Australasia for trips lasting more than a year.
However, as a first-timer, it’s highly recommended that you start off with a one night trip. Try and keep the round trip distance to about 20 kilometres or less. It will be reassuring to know that civilization is not that far out! As you travel more and develop more confidence, then the world is your oyster.
02. Research About the Country You’re Going to
Whenever you go to a new destination, it always helps in knowing about where you need to go and how you need to get there. A quick research about the place, customs and traditions will help you understand the place better and it won’t be a cultural shock.
That said, you don’t need to research in detail – that is what exploring is for. But a little pre-trip reading and knowledge can go a long way. You certainly don’t want to be standing in a new country, guidebook in one hand, a huge map in another and looking entirely lost. It will make you a good target for all sorts of undesirable characters, which you need to avoid, especially in a completely new place.
03. Pack All Your Essentials, but Pack Lightly
Solo backpacking has one very simple rule – pack small and as light as possible.
Since you’ll be on the move all the time, and your backpack will go with you everywhere, you need a bag big enough to carry all your essentials, but not so big when you need to board buses and trains.
One of the best ways to organise and pack all your belongings is by using pro packing cubes. They are light-weight organisers that come in different colours and sizes. You can very easily segregate all your clothes and easily stuff them in your backpack with pro packing cubes.
04. Keep Your Family or Friends Informed Always
Have you seen 127 Hours?
It’s a movie based on the true story of Aron Ralston who was out hiking in Utah and got trapped by a boulder in a canyon. He was stuck for approximately 127 hours and no one knew about his whereabouts. Eventually he had to amputate his own arm to free himself and look for help. Of course, this is very extreme and not everyone will find themselves in Aron’s position.
But it’s always better to touch base with your family and friends or whoever you speak to daily such as your online friends at your local bingo sites chat room and keep them informed about where you are and where you’ll be going next. It also helps to get friendly with the staff of wherever you’re staying and let them know what your plans for the day are or if you have booked any tours.
Finally…relax, enjoy and have fun on your first solo backpacking trip. Always trust your instincts and stay safe!
Instagram image courtesy A Backpacker’s Tale (abackpackerstale).