Travelling alone is undisputedly one of the best ways to see the world as this is when you can tailor your entire itinerary to fit your preferences and there is no need to split your focus between the point of attraction and your travel partner. This is when you can really focus on exploring places in full detail and in most importantly, in peace.
As amazing as the above sounds, there are also disadvantages and challenges to solo backpacking. This will require you to look within yourself and conduct a balancing exercise to honestly determine whether solo backpacking is the right decision for you.
Here we share with you 11 Things You Should Know Before Going Solo Backpacking. And if you do decide that solo backpacking is for you, remember to stay safe, keep your family updated as to your whereabouts and have fun on your journey!
#1 ARE YOU READY FOR DANGER?
Yes, solo backpacking is what it is and there are plenty of dangers that you can face when in the wild, ranging from getting lost to humans and wild animals. Amongst the three, the most likely situation you’d find yourself in is one where you are lost in the wilderness.
As you are solo backpacking, remember that you will only have yourself to count on especially when it comes to finding your way out of the wilderness. Will you be prepared to face that?
#2 BRING THE ESSENTIALS
The whole premise of backpacking is that you will only be taking what you require in a backpack with you and mind you that whatever you carry in your backpack is meant to last you for the entire duration of your trip.
Thus, it is key that you take a good look through your initial packing and thoroughly filter out the unnecessary items that you’ve packed. For example, there isn’t a need to bring all the clothing that you’ve prepared especially when you could use the additional space to fit in more food or a sleeping bag. It really isn’t backpacking if you end up bringing a whole suitcase with you, right?
#3 DON’T LEAVE A TRACE
One of the widely known philosophies of backpacking is ‘Leave No Trace’. This philosophy is all about encouraging backpackers to safeguard plant and animal wildlife and to prevent the existing nature trails and campsites from being polluted with human trash and waste.
Before you go on your backpacking trip, it would be best to practice this philosophy even at home, so that you can familiarise yourself with this way of living and avoid being a nuisance to others and the wildlife in the area during your trip.
#4 HITCHHIKING IS A THING
To keep expenditure low, hitchhiking is one of the most practised methods of backpacker travel. Hitchhiking is so much more than the ever-so-recognisable act of sticking your thumb up at the side of the road. It is arguably one of the most amazing ways to travel around the world and connect with people of different cultures and backgrounds.
That being said, hitchhiking isn’t always as glorious as it seems. There are dangers that you have to weigh in such as your safety — especially if you are a solo female backpacker — and whether you are willing to get into the vehicle with someone you have no clue about. It really does depend on your personal preference.
One aspect of solo backpacking that you will not be able to run from is the reality that you need to be organised in your packing. As mentioned earlier, essentials are all you should bring with you on your trip and your organisation skills will kick in when it comes to maximising the storage space in your backpack and in arranging the items in your bag according to their weight.
Nonetheless, you should bear in mind that regardless of how well you pack your bag, this will not “lighten” your load in any sense. You must be mentally and physically prepared to carry a reasonably heavy bag through the course of the trip.
#6 READY TO GO SOLO?
If this is your first time travelling alone, ask yourself this — are you ready for solitude? For those who are solo backpacking to cities, the likelihood of you facing complete loneliness wouldn’t hit you because you would come across fellow backpackers and most likely end up spending some parts of your journey with them.
But for those venturing to places which are not so popular with backpackers, being all by yourself will most likely be a reality. 10 days of travel without speaking to a single soul may seem a daunting task but we would encourage you to treat this as a time of reflection and to show yourself some attention that you rightfully deserve.
#7 RESEARCH BEFOREHAND
We cannot emphasize how crucial it is to research your destination and environment before you leave. This is one process that you will need to be extremely meticulous with, in particular with identifying the local wildlife present in that area and the dangers that you may face.
If you are someone who likes to go with the flow, backpacking and solo backpacking may not be the right choice for you. Solo backpacking will demand you to venture out into the wild and without putting in the necessary preparation, you’d be in for more trouble than you bargained for.
#8 SHOWERS ARE LIMITED
Should you intend to go on a backpacking trip that is primarily in the wilderness, it seems rather obvious that access to showers will be limited. Yes, this is probably something most would not be accustomed to, but there are multiple ways for you to stay clean and hygienic.
In the event that hygiene is one issue that you feel very strongly about, it would be wise to tailor your backpacking trip to one that revolves around cities so that you would have access to a hostel and its showering facilities every night. A backpacking trip to the wilderness would likely not be your cup of tea.
#9 THERE WILL BE EMERGENCIES
It really never hurts to be more prepared and being equipped with the knowledge and materials to deal with emergencies is one of the most important elements of your backpacking experience. Aside from doing adequate research, when faced with an emergency, you must be able to maintain your composure and not panic.
Conduct a personal evaluation of your response towards emergency situations. Remember that there is the chance that you’d be alone when facing such emergencies. Will you be ready to respond appropriately to emergencies or is this something that you would not be able to do?
#10 YOU NEED TO BE FIT
As fun as backpacking sounds, it does demand a certain level of fitness and that would also correspond to the places you eventually decide to backpack to. To put it simply, those who are more physically fit would be able to take more rigorous and intense hikes and their chances of being injured would also be reduced.
Therefore, unless you decide on a city backpacking experience, you will need to spend a period of time building up your fitness so that you can get the most out of your backpacking journey.
#11 YOU MUST BE FLEXIBLE
Love planning every single part of your travel itinerary, right down to the nitty-gritty details? Well, solo backpacking demands you to be flexible because you’d never know who you would encounter along the way or what exciting sight you may happen to chance upon.
Simply do your research and stick to a few places that you would really want to see. But at the end of the day, solo backpacking will require you to keep your mind and heart open to other possibilities that will come your way.