– some stuff I want to write about…
Solo travelling has been on my things to do list for a long time and finally I got an opportunity to go for it. Having said that, I had never got around to thinking about how I am gonna manage it. Spoke with a few people and read some stuff online, but most of what I write here is mainly out of my experience. Here are some pointers to having an amazing experience while solo backpacking:
1. Planning – I am someone who likes to know what lies ahead so this becomes a very important part for me. Planning need not mean drawing up a complete itinerary, but its more to do with what you want to do, the place you chose, the activities that you can indulge in, how long will be a good time to spend at a certain location etc. Joining some internet groups about the place, travel books etc. will help you get this part done.
2. Have an open mind – While you are planning, don’t read too much into what everyone has to say. While you go to explore a new place, it always helps to have an open mind and not have a pre conceived notion of the place. Be open to learn stuff on the way and speaking with people who have travelled more will surely help you learn more about places. People are generally very helpful and they are not out there to get you.
3. Stay in a hostel – This was one of the best decisions I had made during my solo trip. Hostel offers a cheap way to meet loads of interesting fellow travelers and they come with loads of stories of their own. Good conversations in the lobby or in your dorm room may end up in a travel companion for some of the city exploration. The fellow foreigners may also help you decide on the next travel destinations and who knows maybe even be willing to host you when you visit their country or the other way around.
4. Communicate – This is the most important part in travelling. During your travels there will be loads of people you meet along the way and speaking with them will not only inspire you but will also help you decide on the places to go or things to do. Hostel mates, people you meet at restaurants, locals, people who work in the hostel etc. will all have some stories to share.
5. Try local foods – Pizzas and burgers are found in almost every place you may visit, but I would recommend that you try the local stuff if you are keen to understand the flavor of the place. People generally tend to like foods and associate food with places, what better way to create a memory than to try something that you may not possibly get anywhere else. Also it helps the fact that, more often than not, local dishes are cheaper than their international counterparts.
6. Learn to read a map – As simple and basic as it may sound, there are a few first time travelers I have met who are not even sure how to read maps or understand directions. Remember simple things (like observing landmarks, knowing facts like sun rises in the east almost universally – in order to guess the directions) and try and get a map as soon as you reach a new city, calculate approximate distances and time taken
7. Use the local transport and speak with the locals – The best way to see a city is by walking through the streets; however there are distances that need motor power. Experiencing local modes of transport can be exciting as well as cheap. This helps to understand how the daily lives of the people in those cities are. Once in a while you also come across some person who is excited to talk to a “foreigner” and this will help you too. They can let you know of some interesting and not-so-famous places to go to, amazing restaurants for your lunch which is not mentioned on the internet etc.
If you haven’t got around to backpacking yet, I hope these will help you get started. Get over your fear and go for it… it’s going to be great.