Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Going solo? Even better.

So So you want to explore the world - but you have no one to go with?? Consider this an advantage! No one to make you spend money on things you rather wouldn't, you can come and go as you please, see what YOU want to see and not waste your time seeing what's on someone else's wish-list. Travelling in a group is awesome, but you tend to keep more to yourselves and in my opinion (having tested both methods) miss out on meeting some amazing individuals.

For me, travelling solo was a kind of accident. I was shy and I really sucked at meeting people prior to backpacking. Going solo changed my life, and I enjoyed it so much that I think I will find it very hard to travel any other way...

EXCUSE #1 'But isn't it lonely?'No... Farrrrr from it. But this is entirely dependant on how you decide to travel. I like to hostel it, generally in and around major cities. And I will never stay in a hotel ever again. Hostels are like a home away from home for me. Its a community of its own, like a big family, filled with young, interesting intrepid travellers such as yourself - who are usually travelling alone as well. So everyone tends to look out for each other. The vibe is fun, exciting, and its the best way to meet people.

EXCUSE #2 'But I'm shy, and I'm terrible at meeting people'...I was terrible at meeting people and making friends prior to travelling. I found that backpacking solo helped me change that dramatically. It positively forces you into meeting new people. I chose to always stay in mixed hostel dorms of 6-10. This was the cheapest option but also the best for meeting room-mates. I consider the people I have travelled with like family, and have kept in touch with the people I was closest with.

EXCUSE #3 'But isn't it dangerous - especially being a girl?'Travelling solo only becomes dangerous when you stop looking after yourself. 99% of it is common sense that will keep you safe.But below are my rules to keep out of trouble anyway, in case there are any you haven't thought of:
- Never go out after dark alone
- I dont drink unless I'm on some sort of organised tour and I'm with someone I trust (Topdeck/Contiki/Hostel Pub Crawl)
- Along with the above, I never get too drunk.. but I am one of those people who can have the best night sober.
- Always make sure flights you book are in reasonable daylight hours, and give you enough daylight to get to your next hostel.
- I only ever stay in hostels that are rated 80% or higher on Hostelworld or Hostelbookers
- I never trust anyone 100%. Im not saying be paranoid, but tune into your 6th sense or gut feeling and always consider what your new friends intentions might be. 
- Dont get talked or bullied into doing things you don't want to do. Its simple. Only ever do what YOU want. After all isnt that why you decided to go by yourself?If you are still worried about travelling solo - start your adventure off with a tour. I have used Top Deck in the past and it was fantastic. Contiki is another popular tour company for under 30's Everything is planned for you, all you have to do is enjoy yourself and make life long friends. Then after your tour is finished, you are more familiar with the backpacking routine and you have a bit more confidence, then head off on your solo backpacking adventure. Who knows, if you keep your trip fairly flexible you might continue travelling with someone you have met on your tour.

So basically, if you want to change your life forever and truly find yourself - I couldn't recommend travelling solo highly enough. But consider yourselves warned... it is extremely addictive. As soon as you get home your priority is to plan and save for your next trip to a place that a fellow backpacker recommended... you know, that guy/girl you met at that hostel you stayed at in that really cool place.

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