Backpacking Solo : Some Things to Know
If you are a backpacking junkie like me you may well be planning to travel across Europe during your gap year or are about to test your mettle against the wilderness. Some would say that this is an ambitious, and even a dangerous undertaking, but with the application of common sense and the necessary caution backpacking solo can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The secret to success is to plan your trip carefully – do not take off on a whim. If you are a female traveler you must consider your personal safety; perhaps more than a male would. Always have safe accommodations arranged on your route – never leave it to chance.
Traveling solo as a backpacker, you will meet many people, other keen travelers like yourself, who might well become life-long friends. You will certainly build unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
Where to stay and what to packWhile many travelers stay in hotels, most backpackers prefer hostels, inexpensive dorm-style accommodations that cater to students and backpackers. It’s advisable, before setting off on your adventure, to familiarize yourself with modes of travel and places to stay in the areas you’ll be traveling through. Plan a route carefully, and leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member as a safety measure. Regular contact with someone back home is a good insurance policy as well.
Remember to pack as lightly as possible. You’ll be carrying everything, so be sure you’re not weighing yourself down with non-essentials. Consider your destination and your planned journey. Most backpackers choose to travel through relatively civilized terrain. While traveling through towns and cities, you’ll want to bring one set of “Sunday” clothes for any formal occasion that might arise. This does happen: I was once invited to dinner at the home of the parents of someone I met when on a trek.
Female solo backpackers
Women backpacking solo should be aware of their particular vulnerabilities, but that should not deter them from picking up their packs and heading out on a grand adventure. Awareness of your surroundings and common sense are tools any backpacker should use to the fullest extent. Women need to be on their guard against handing out too much personal information to strangers, but if you follow your instincts and avoid deserted, lonely areas, you should do just fine.
In the wilderness
Wilderness backpacking is an activity best done with a partner. For the first trip, and certainly for the less-experienced backpacker, exploring well-established civilization is a better choice. One of the most popular destinations for backpackers is Australia. It’s possible for backpackers who need to earn some cash to finance their journey and pick up odd jobs, especially on the farms. The work is hard, but the natives are friendly and you’ll come away with experiences you’ll never forget. Backpacking across Europe is also a popular way to spend a few days, weeks, or even months of a gap year. Germany, England and Ireland are countries with an abundance of hostels and a vibrant backpacking culture.
Wherever you plan to go on your solo backpacking adventure, plan ahead, carry maps, and educate yourself about the area and the local culture well in advance. Pack carefully, and don’t leave your belongings, especially cash or expensive electronics, lying about as an invitation to thieves. Remember that one of your main goals should be to meet new friends. The most important thing you can take with you is a friendly smile. When you return from your backpacking adventure, be sure to keep in touch with the people you made connections with along the way. Consider a blog or journal to record your travels.