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Travelling alone in a backpack: why and how?

Want to go on a trip, but don't feel ready to embark on a solo adventure? So let me explain in detail why you should consider it and what you can do to really make the experience the best possible!

My aim here will not be to tell you that solo travel is better than traveling with friends or family. Because I think that there is time to devote the trip to yourself, and moments to go on a trip with your inner circle.

When you are young in this case, it seems fundamental to me to be able to focus on yourself at first.

I started there myself. At the beginning, it was not easy to adapt to new situations, especially since I did not choose the easiest country to start with.

The language barrier, habits and customs as well as the interaction with foreigners were my main challenges. But with the will and the right mentality, I ended up getting used to it, and even getting a taste for it.

If I was able to successfully travel alone, then you too can do the same! But for that, I am going to give you my main reasons to try to convince you.

Are you ready?

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Why travel alone?

To answer this question, I have based on my personal experience so that you can form an opinion on what has really been beneficial for me.

Even if this applies to me, maybe some points will not apply to you because you will not feel concerned.

I still invite you to read it, as people you know may be interested, and sharing this article can, and I hope, help more than one person.

Give yourself time to do introspection

One of the strengths of solo backpacking is the ability to have more time for yourself and take stock of your current situation: professional, personal, relational, among others.

I say that with full knowledge of the facts, because every time I travel, I have this voice in my head that asks a lot of questions about a lot of aspects of life.

Each visit, each encounter or each incredible discovery is each time a questioning that pushes me to have to challenge a lot of prejudices that I have.

I am beginning to put into perspective some points that are blocking me in my head, and I am adopting a different vision to unlock a way of seeing things from a different angle.

Know how to appreciate the little things in life

Unlike trips with friends or family, traveling alone forces you to have to lower your ambitions regarding accommodations, activities and mode of transport.

You don't split the bill when you're alone, and you'll need to be twice as smart to make sure you travel while spending as little as possible.

If you want to travel longer, you will have to turn to youth hostels or guesthouses for its very affordable price. The idea of renting an Airbnb is unthinkable for you, especially if you are alone.

When it comes to activities, some things will cost more if you pay alone, and in this case, you will surely have to look for things to do that are more economical.

Likewise for transport, you cannot afford to rent a car for yourself because it would be really expensive if you plan to travel for several days. So you take public transport instead.

In short, the level of comfort during your trip will be reduced to the strict minimum and you will learn to accept your situation.

This is a lesson that you can learn to put into perspective the possible small problems in your life, because you will have learned to accept discomfort during your solo trip.

To be able to create a break in your current routine

Whether young, employed or retired, we all live the same lifestyle almost every day.

Sometimes, routine can suffocate us to a point where we can't find the way out and that can lead us to some form of depression.

For my part, I went through this situation, when I was still in the second year of higher education. The fact that I did not find meaning in my life, and that I was not happy in my studies ended up making me depressed.

At that time, I thought about giving up everything to do something else, something that was more in line with my personality. But I finally found a solution to break my period of depression.

Being a travel enthusiast, I wanted to embark on a solo trip to get a change of scenery and see if this new experience could please me.

To my surprise, I finally found a glimmer of hope in my life by being able to work on myself.

My 45 days in Japan succeeded in giving me new ideas, new friendships and a new state of mind to get me back into my routine on track.

This is why I recommend solo travel as a remedy for those who can no longer see the end of their routine. Even if it is only for a few weeks, it is more than enough to create a break and breathe a breath.

An advantage for developing new skills

If you have already read in other travel blogs that traveling alone is beneficial for developing new skills, I can only agree with that.

When left to yourself, you have no choice but to figure it out and look for solutions to stick to your budget, plan itineraries that are in line with your budget, and look for ways to optimize time in your trips.

To do this, you will have to ask for help to get advice and find things to do that are out of the ordinary. You will therefore develop your ease in taking the initiative and talking to the people around you that you will encounter along the way.

Remember that by being abroad, you will not have the complex of being judged because you do not know how to speak the language of the country. On the contrary, people will be much more likely to help you, especially in Asia.

You'll improve your English skills, and you'll find it easier to engage in conversations with travelers who, like you, are there to interact with you.

Moreover, on each of my trips, I realize that many French people leave alone. Out of 100% of the meetings I meet, I always find at least one French person. So even if you are abroad, there is a good chance that you speak French.

Don't depend on anyone to do the things you love

This point is important in my opinion, because if like me you think that traveling alone seems inconceivable, you must believe that this is no longer the case today.

The fear of leaving alone without friends or family members can put off more than one person. But believe me, you never end up alone during your journey.

I have already gone with friends, and maybe you have already experienced the same thing as me, but sometimes you come across surprises.

If your friends prefer to stay in a hotel, go out to eat out, and visit a few tourist spots, that might not be the case for you. Because you are the type to explore, discover new things and talk to locals.

Or when you're traveling with your friends, you realize that you're not in line to do the things YOU want to do. And that can impact your travel experience.

Of course, I am not saying that you should stop going to travel with your friends. But if for you the condition to be able to travel depends on their availability and financial resources, then you will hardly leave anywhere.

Let's say you want to go to Colombia to relax on the beach, go hiking and try local specialties. Will you be able to convince one of your friends to join you in the adventure?

If you are lucky to have friends who are just like you, then the chances are much greater! If not, I wish you luck.

For this reason, traveling alone will allow you to not depend on anyone to do the things you love.

How do you make a solo trip as memorable as possible?

There are a number of ways to make your solo travel experience as memorable as possible.

In fact, everything will depend on what you want to do during this trip. Do you want to prove to yourself that you can get by without help from anyone in a foreign country? Or discover another way of traveling, such as doing Slow Travel?

Based on my experience, I am going to show you how to proceed to make solo travel the most beneficial for you.

I hope it will inspire you to do the same if you think it can be what you expect!

Volunteering in a youth hostel or guesthouses

If you are still a student or planning to do a gap year, I advise you to volunteer in a youth hostel or guesthouses.

The reason is that you will not pay for housing if you plan to work for a few hours, and on a voluntary basis. Also, it is an opportunity for you to try a new travel experience by combining encounter and adventure.

Because you will be working with staff members, as well as other volunteers like you. It is therefore the perfect combination to allow you to optimize your housing expenses, and invest it elsewhere.

Depending on the country where you want to volunteer, it may be mandatory to have a valid visa in your possession.

And that's where the Working Holiday Permit comes in! By applying, you can then benefit from a visa in order to work and travel within the country for a period of 1 year.

Note that the steps to request it are relatively simple, except for a few criteria where you will need to gather a minimum amount to have in your bank account.

Give priority to meetings to the detriment of visits

It took me time to understand one thing when traveling, and that is that some encounters along the way can be worth more than a visit to a place.

When I first started solo travel, I had only one thing on my mind, and that was to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.

I literally wasn't taking the time to try and chat with travelers in youth hostels. Even when I worked as a volunteer in a hostel, members considered me a ghost because I was almost never there at organized events.

It's sad to say, but at that time, I had no concept of sharing or good manners, and I regret it bitterly.

Over time, it is clear that travel takes on a much greater meaning when I start to sit in the living space of youth hostels and talk to anyone.

Because I realize that everyone can have something super exciting to tell, in addition to receiving valuable advice from people who manage to travel for months or even years.

Believe it or not, for many of them, I was inspired by a lot of the people I met to become the person I am today.

After all, wouldn't solo travel be a journey to find yourself and define the person you want to be?

Take time for yourself

For introverted people like me who can't always be in a social environment for too long, it's also important to know how to let go.

In the previous section, I talked about prioritizing meetings over visits, but that doesn't mean you have to constantly approach people, especially if you don't feel like doing so.

I myself have felt the need several times to take time for myself and do things that I wanted to do without always having someone next to me.

Over time, I manage to juggle entering, meeting new people, sharing experiences with them, and then traveling alone for 2 or 3 days.

I think it's necessary to find the right balance when traveling alone, because that's how you can better appreciate each of our interactions, and find time to do things you love.

Letting go of travel planning

If there's one lesson I've learned over time from traveling alone, it's to let go of travel planning.

Because very often, things don't go as planned every time you meet new people, or one day you have to stay in a place you loved.

By planning everything in advance, you are less flexible to change your plans if the unexpected happens, and you may regret it.

For this reason, I don't always plan to book my train or bus tickets in advance, or to book accommodation for several days.

What I do is I advise day by day according to the situation. If I feel that I really like a city, I give myself a few extra days to visit it.

Likewise, if I feel that the youth hostel where I live does not suit me, or if the atmosphere is not friendly, I book accommodation elsewhere.

This way I give myself more flexibility in my choices.

Conclusion

This is a rather long article, but it allowed me to explain my vision of solo travel to you.

Each section that I have detailed reflects my personal experience and that has allowed me to be where I am.

I can only be happy with how far I have come, because I now find myself in a situation that is much more in line with my values.

And if solo travel has been beneficial for me, then I am confident that it is beneficial for others as well.

Do not hesitate to give me feedback if you too have experienced the same thing as me, whether during one of your trips or elsewhere!

Who is behind the Le Solo Backpacker blog?

Hello! My name is Toan, and I am the founder of the blog Le Solo Backpacker.
I started solo travel at the age of 19, and my aim through my articles is to offer you the best tips for getting off the beaten path, meeting open-minded travelers and discovering travel from a different perspective.