So I found this blog post I’d written way back in 2017 leading up to my first solo backpacking trip. Though this site isn’t about solo backpacking, I thought some of you might like it (especially if you’re planning your own solo travel!).
In exactly 31 days I’ll be flying out of Canada and heading to Europe for a month. I would have liked for the trip to be longer, but I start work shortly after and student funds can only get you so far.
The planning process has been quite different than the trips I’ve done with friends or in organized groups. For anyone beginning to plan their solo trip or considering doing one in the future, here are some of the thoughts I’m having as the departure date draws closer.
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1. Decision making is much faster
“Oh that hostel looks great, has good reviews and I like the location – book!” It’s so easy to make decisions like these when you don’t have to get an entire group’s approval on everything. No more voting on this, or trying to build consensus on that.
It’s also nice because I can choose to go to destinations I want to go to. For example, I really want to got to Switzerland, but none of my potential travel buddies were too keen on it. But if you wait until you find other people, you could be waiting a long time!
“The [wo]man who goes alone can start today, but [s]he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau (One of the many travel quotes I’ve been thinking a lot about lately)
2. Faster doesn’t mean easier
Sometimes you just want a second opinion on something, and that can be difficult when you’re doing the trip alone. Online forums/reviews and asking friends can help a lot with this though.
This planning process has also made me realize I’m quite an impulsive decision maker! I make a quick decision, and later think “was that the right one?” I’ve already had to cancel two reservations become subsequent research suggested something else was better!
3. Everyone thinks you’re either fearless or crazy
Everyone I speak to has one of two extreme opinions on me traveling alone. Some people comment on how brave I must be to go to a foreign country alone, especially as a young woman, and how they could never do something like that. Others think I’m out of my mind, mostly based off the idea that the unknown is so unsafe. I don’t think I’m necessarily either, or maybe I’m both, I don’t know. Either way, don’t let it deter you from going. Find solace in the people who love solo travel and do so much of it.
4. “What if I get lonely?” and other fears will come to your head
Most women solo traveling for the first time get anxiety over staying safe; I get anxiety over becoming lonely. I think there will be some moments where I do get lonely, but I’m trying to overcome this and learn to better enjoy being in my own company. Whatever the fear is that comes to your mind, remember that the most exciting trips are the ones that make you nervous, because that’s when you have the opportunity to jump out of your comfort zone and experience something truly new.
5. But that doesn’t matter because you’re going to be so excited!
Whenever I’m bored and need a pick-me-up, I search the places I’m going on google maps and plan another portion of the trip. I always have countdowns going, and my current screen saver is of Copenhagen, so every time I open my laptop or phone I get excited all over again. Traveling is exciting so let yourself be excited.
Overall, I’m incredibly excited to be going on this trip; it is the light at the end of the exam period tunnel. If you also have a trip coming up, I hope you’re equally as excited! What other thoughts have you had when planning your first solo trip? Share them in the comments below!