I want to start by saying this – solo backpacking isn’t for everyone – it’s mostly for people who are confident and comfortable enough to venture out into the world and experience everything it has to offer without having someone to share that experience with.
I have learned that it’s an opportunity to gain a new perspective on the world and learn about yourself in the process.
If you’ve never backpacked alone, it may be hard to imagine what it’s like to embark on that kind of adventure.
You may even have some misconceptions about what it’s like to brave a trip independently.
- Solo Traveling Won’t Change Who You Are
- It is Easy to Make Friends, Difficult to Keep Them
- Solo Travelers Are Definitely NOT in Relationships
- You Learn to Be Comfortable With Yourself 24/7
- You Can Be As Arrogant As You Want
- Odds Are You Will Get Kidnapped If You Go Alone
- Thou Shall Not Know What Is Comfort Zone
- You Will Feel So Lonely, You Will Be Depressed
Solo Traveling Won’t Change Who You Are
Traveling alone can change you, but it won’t if you don’t let it.
There are a lot of people who write flowery articles or columns about their travel experience, claiming they left as one person and returned as another.
A nice way to show others how they are doing exactly what makes them happy and fulfilled with philosophical knowledge of life. The reality, however, is a lot different.
If you’re going away to find yourself, that’s one thing. If you’re going away to enjoy yourself, you’re still going to be the same person you were when you left.
No questions about it!
Backpackers often go to places like India or Sri Lanka and claim that their trip revolutionized their way of thinking. Sounds good enough.
They go away for a week or so, experience the culture and meet the native people. Those same people return to their luxury vacation accommodations and relax with a drink in their hand, talking about how their lives are completely different.
You may be different for a few moments, but it’s not going to completely change your life unless you make an actual effort to let it.
You won’t come home with a completely new identity just because you went on a solo backpacking trip – and it’s ridiculous to think that you will.
It is Easy to Make Friends, Difficult to Keep Them
You are bound to encounter other people when you travel. And because you’re solo, it’s more likely that you or another solo traveler will start up a conversation, but don’t think that’s how beautiful friendships are born.
What you may not realize is that every solo traveler has a different agenda – YOU ARE NOT IN IT!
They’re looking to experience something different from what you’re trying to experience. Their reasons are NOT the same as your reasons.
Even if you have the same destination in mind, it doesn’t mean you should go together – that’s why you’re on the solo trip in the first place, to experience and conquer the obstacles alone.
You’ll spend a little while traveling with these people, and then you’ll need to part ways. You’ll thank each other, and you’ll probably never see each other again. All you are left with are fond memories and stories of the people you’ve met.
You’ll have to continue your journey, and you can’t bring them with you. Which is GOOD, because YOUR journey is waiting for YOU.
Solo Travelers Are Definitely NOT in Relationships
Solo travelers don’t have to be single – they only need to be alone when traveling.
The idea of solo traveling is that you aren’t waiting on anyone else to see the things you want to see and experience your life the way you want to.
I did a three month solo tour of Asia with my girlfriend waiting for me back home. Some people may think it’s foolish to do that, as I might have been jeopardizing my relationship by leaving her alone for so long.
I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t agree with that.
My life is not eternal. You don’t have limitless time to do the things you want to do. I wanted to fully experience the world, and I did it when I had the opportunity.
Could I have taken that same kind of trip if I was married with children?
That’s a whole new tier of responsibility, and it’s a lot more difficult to leave behind an entire family who is counting on you. (unless if it’s for work)
It may be strange to take a trip and leave your significant other behind, but for me it’s better than living in regret of the things you never got around to doing. It might even make your relationship better.
I rather take the risk and then regret it than not take a solo trip, get older, stay together with my girlfriend, marry her and then regret the things that I never did. Eventually, I would start blaming her for not letting me follow my dreams when we were younger.
Our marriage would fall apart. She would feel guilty, I would hold a grudge against her and have the question in my mind “What if…”
As cliché as it sounds, but the saying “You don’t regret the things you did, you regret the things you didn’t do when you had the chance”, seems very true to me.
You Learn to Be Comfortable With Yourself 24/7
“Happiness is only real when shared” – Into the Wild
Is it true?
We all want to validate our happiness by sharing it with another person. The first solo trip I ever took was to Crete, and I was in awe of everything. It was incredible just to look around and enjoy my surroundings.
Everything was beautiful, and all I wanted was someone else to share that moment with.
It took me a few days to get used to being by myself. When I did, I was actually glad to be solo. Nobody travels for other people – we all travel for ourselves.
I don’t need to take hundreds of photos, and I don’t need someone else to prove that I was there. It’s all for my own experience and my own memories.
At least, that is the way I see it. And it is in fact working out pretty good for me.
You Can Be As Arrogant As You Want
One of the best things about traveling alone is that it comes with a license to stop caring about what other people think.
I don’t have to make plans around what someone else wants to do. I don’t have to eat at a restaurant that everyone agrees on.
If I want to have a beer for breakfast, nobody is going to stop me. You can shut the rest of the world out and let your intuition guide you.
That’s what true freedom really means.
Odds Are You Will Get Kidnapped If You Go Alone
Unless you’re traveling to a war zone, you’re in no more danger than you were at home. Newsflash, theft and murder happen everywhere.
Crime isn’t specific to one place. You’re not putting yourself at any more risk traveling alone than you would be walking by yourself in your own home town.
Trust me, I’m saying this after having a pretty bad experience. I went on a trip to the Philippines and on the second day, I got robbed. But I also know that I could have had my wallet stolen in my own neighborhood. One unfortunate incident didn’t stop me from backpacking.
You are taking a little bit of a risk when you travel by yourself, but you’re going to live a very boring life if you’re too afraid to do anything. You’re missing out!
Thou Shall Not Know What Is Comfort Zone
When you look back at your life on social media, do you want to see pictures and videos of yourself sitting in your living room, or pictures and videos of you scaling a mountain.
My definition of fate is preparation plus opportunity. Fate is what you get when stepping out of your comfort zone.
Nothing is worse than wasting every opportunity to explore the world. The world is huge, and if you never get up off of the couch, you’ll die without seeing any of it.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get around. You won’t always speak the same language as the people around you. (This was a significant problem for me at first, but it certainly didn’t stop me.)
There have been times when I got lost, having no idea how to get to the place I was supposed to go to.
And yes, you’ll need to communicate through gestures and bridge the gap with locals. Just like I did, you will too feel anxious for a little while, but then you’ll feel something incredible. You transcended barriers and took care of yourself without anyone else’s help.
Forget about your comfort zone for a little while. If you allow yourself to be trapped by it you’re never going to learn and grow.
Nobody ever accomplished anything by keeping both feet in their comfort zone at all times.
You Will Feel So Lonely, You Will Be Depressed
No! There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.
Don’t think your trip is going to be boring just because you aren’t bringing someone with you.
You’ll be the only person you come with, but you’ll definitely find people to talk to. Even with having almost no knowledge of the English language what so ever on my first solo trip, I still managed to go everywhere and make new friends.
You’re going to have fun, and you get to decide how you’re going to have fun.
You decide what you’re doing with every moment of your time – including whether or not you want to be around people.
Your downtime is just as valuable as the time you spend with others. In fact, you’ll appreciate being able to be alone and think about whatever’s on your mind.
For me this factor has played an important role in other parts of my life in the long run.
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist including this trailer in the article – awesome movie. Just watch it and, I promise, you will book tickets for a trip.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should take a solo trip, start by asking yourself this question:
What did you do last year that made you a better person this year?
If you’re struggling to answer that question, it’s time to do something big. I did exactly that and never looked back.
You deserve to feel fulfilled, and you shouldn’t wait around for other people to help you feel that way.
You’re in control, you call the shots, and you can absolutely backpack by yourself. The only thing standing in your way is you.