7 Reasons To Go Backpacking SOLO

By on July 2, 2014
Ahmed Amer
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Ahmed Amer

Founder & Writer at Wanderlust Crunch
Ahmed eats like an Italian, dresses like a Hobo, smiles like a Spaniard and enjoys sarcasm like a French. His hair is curly! Oh, also his friends are bilingual and so is he
Ahmed Amer
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A lot of people keep asking me the same question every time I start planning my travels (“Why are you always going solo?”) and to be honest, there is no one single reason or answer. There are a bunch of reasons why I prefer to travel solo rather than a group. I don’t mind the latter, I just prefer going solo slightly more. But I finally got myself to write my 7 Reasons To Go Backpacking SOLO and why I like to travel & wander by myself.

When travelling solo you really can just do whatever takes your fancy. Every single day can be filled with things that interest you. You don’t have to compromise your plans or miss out on what you want to do because your travel buddy is whining they don’t want to do this or that, or they want to do something completely different instead. You have no one to please but yourself, and yes that may seem self-centred but who gives a damn? 

 

No reason why! Just trying to be in Zen mode

No reason why! Just trying to be in Zen mode

 Reason number 1: Freedom

Usually, I don’t plan a lot in advance, I leave it to chance and let my days make its random decisions for me. So when I do travel there aren’t many friends that will just pick up their bags and say “Hell yeah I am going with you!” and that’s okay, because I’m usually the one who does this. I don’t expect to find a mate up for it all the time. Going solo gives you the freedom to just pack your backpack and go, even your best friends won’t always be as fast as you. Also, you may prefer cheap flights, sleeping on the backs of trucks, or eating cheaply to save on costs, and not everyone will want to travel the same way. In other words, you might not want to trade three affordable adventures for one expensive one.

 

Omar Khourshed

  Omar Khourshed
  Egypt Backpackers Founder

“I’ve always been that guy who had friends planning him in their trips. Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in my life was that I was nice enough to always not be the ass hole and not go ahead & say “You know what guys, I’m out!”. Then one time I had enough! Since then, I experienced a life full of awesome people & life long stories. You see,                                        it’s not merely about travelling alone, it’s a living mindset!”

 

One of the many great things about travelling solo is the fact you can do anything, with anyone, at any time. If I am travelling with a girlfriend or a bunch of friends I always worry about their choices first before mine, and sometimes I’m not that comfortable with the end results and wish that I could have done that other thing I was longing to do. When I was in Thailand, I found a way to be the laziest person ever with the best view ever!! I woke up everyday past midday, sat on the beach till sundown and everyone knows that after dinner… that’s when party time starts.

 

Indonesia -Lost in paradise

 

Reason number 2: Personal growth!

When you travel solo you can motivate yourself to have the best and most amazing experience wherever you go. Being ‘on your own’ whilst backpacking is also a great test of yourself. You will have plenty of time to explore yourself than any other time. For example when I was in Sri Lanka I travelled to Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak to hike 2,243m overnight! That is one thing I never would have had the guts to do by myself before. Despite the rain, the total darkness and the awful hiking conditions (heavy rain, fog, and other dangers) me and my three hiking partners went against all the odds and managed to reach the peak in time to see the sunrise. It was amazing! It was cloudy but yet the feeling of accomplishment and happiness was flowing through my body. Alone, you become very aware of your surroundings, of the clouds forming in the sky, of any little pain in your foot or back. It is an awareness without worry. This ‘in-the-moment’ experience is truly worth having.

 

Sri Lanka } Adam's Peak } Jan 2010

 

By being forced out of your comfort zone and having to deal with unexpected events and unpredictable experiences, you will really learn a lot about yourself. You will come to know yourself intimately whether you want to or not. You won’t need to ask yourself what you would do in a tight spot, or what type of person you are when things happen and you have to deal with them, you will know because you will have been there and done it.

I’ve grown out of my comfort zones, learnt how to drive motorbikes, trucks and old Russian cars, I’ve cleaned hostels and served at bars and restaurants. No one had to hold my hand and walk me across the road. That’s something you might not get as much as travelling in a group but it’s one of the best things you can experience as a backpacker. Throw yourself out there, swim with the sharks and beat the misplaced stereotype. Here’s a video of my hike to one of the hills in Kandy, Sri Lanka:

 

 

Reason number 3: Meeting new people!

Don’t think that by leaving home on your own you are somehow going to condemn yourself to a six month trip of solitude and loneliness. If you go backpacking anywhere in the world, you are going to meet like-minded people who are interested in travelling as much as you, who have gone travelling on their own too. You get to meet people who actively want to do the things you do rather than having to cajole friends at home into an experience they might not enjoy or be ready for. You need to be with people who are into it, not those who need to be coerced into it.

 

First night in Vang Vieng  with Marie, Lisa & Lewis

First night in Vang Vieng with Marie, Lisa & Lewis

I was on a plane from Kuala Lumpur to Laos thinking that I would be alone for a while until I was supposed to catch up with a friend in Vang Vieng, but when I landed in Laos everything changed. I met two guys from Germany and two girls from (I don’t really remember) and we shared a mini-bus to the city. I was really really sick on my first day but I was lucky to meet three people who would later help me get my shit together. Those people in the picture above are Marie, Lisa (Germany) and Lewis (UK). The four of us took the long bus ride from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, and after settling in our hostel/dorms we went out for a local dinner. Not only was I happy but I was around like-minded people who didn’t feel so much different from the kind of friends you have for a long time.

Rita Marques

  Rita Marques
  impacTrip Founder

 “Solo travelling is the best way to open your eyes to the world for the first time, you will learn so much about yourself and other people you have never met like them before. It’s pure  inspiration. I made so many friends while travelling on my own in South-East Asia that I was really never alone.”

 

 

 Reason number 4: It works better when Couchsurfing!

[Devilish smile] It’s true! When you try Couchsurfing you’ll find out that it is easier to find a host when you are travelling solo or as a couple, plus you can pretty much lower your standards without anyone bitching about it. I love Couchsurfing – I’ve previously blogged about Couchsurfing and how to use it and also my personal opinions and my 101 tips guide for surfers. In every country I’ve visited I’ve always reached out to the Couchsurfers in town or other travellers like me. When you travel and backpack solo you can have that freedom of choice to couch surf with anyone and everyone who is able to host.

 

CouchSurfing 101: 5 Tips for First-Time Surfers

Couchsurfing 101: 5 Tips for First-Time Surfers

 

Josh Cahill

  Josh Cahill
  Blogger at GoTravelYourWay

 “As a hitchhiker and couchsurfer I can say that travelling solo is the best option, during the day while you travel you get to know yourself and in the night once you arrive at your host you make new  friends. The perfect mix I like

 

 

 

Reason number 5: You become an incredible storyteller!

Who has never heard of Ibn Battuta? He said, “Travelling will leave you speechless and turn you into a story teller”. You’ll create endless memories when you tell friends stories of your travels. Because the trip was only yours, it’s a unique experience many people will love to hear about. As long as you make the most of your solo expedition, your stories will be epic accounts you’ll never get tired of telling. I was so happy when I published a story of my earlier travel experiences about how I got my first taste of travels and about the day I left home.

 

Look at that happy bastard

That was me back in 2008 during 1st year college

And that is me going to submit my thesis

And this is me going to submit my thesis five years later

 

If travelling makes you a better, smarter person, then travelling alone makes you super-better and super-smarter. For any of you who may feel uncomfortable even sitting alone at a diner to have breakfast, taking a trip by yourself might seem daunting. Once you take the plunge and get over your fears, you’ll feel a real sense of empowerment. A successful solo vacation can inspire you to tackle even more things in life you’ve been afraid to try. While travelling solo, you can leave your grumpy, tired old self behind and start to be a new you. You can explore parts of your personality that you may not very comfortable or familiar with. When on the road, you might be challenged by unexpected factors and be positively surprised by how well you respond to them. Empower yourself by unleashing the wonderful, irresistible and intelligent person you are, but whom you’ve neglected in your everyday routine.

 

On a boat to the Maldives

My solo trip to the Maldives last year

 

But wait there is more…

 

Mariza Melia

  Mariza Melia
  Laguna Trip, Founder

 “You can get to meet more people…new friends. And it’s more challenging. Pretty much what I’m looking for when I travel. I’m not a big fan of big cities, so Laos was perfect. One of my travel  mates whom I met in Vang Vieng, ended up travelling in Indonesia and stayed with me for a few days. 

 

 

Last but not least…

 

Reason number 7: Falling in love!

You might have read those posts on Thought Catalogue or Elite Daily about how you should or should not marry a girl that travels or about falling in love with a guy that’s a world trotter. Well they are true, but they always fail to deliver the punch line correctly. Everyone wants to find their better half and much is said about failed relationships while on the road. It doesn’t have to be like that! We find love when we meet someone who shares our interests, dreams, and goals. While traveling solo you’ll meet so many people from all walks of life that falling in love might just happen. Whether it will be a great summer love or end up at the altar, no one knows, but there are many people out there with amazing stories. For me, I fell in love with a country called Laos :)

 

I LOVE LAOS

I LOVE LAOS

 

That’s all folks, you have got my wisdom on the topic! My 7 Reasons To Go Backpacking SOLO. I hope I have enlightened your day, made it a bit brighter, drawn a smile on your face, reminded you of something or someone special, and most of all triggered an impulse in you to go and travel – pick up your stuff, shove them in your backpack and go SOLO.

 

Do you prefer to travel solo? I’d love you to add your own tips in the comments section if so!

 

 

 

 

32 Comments

  1. Lucie

    July 3, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Love the article! Very true. I love solo traveling, just doing my very first solo trip across Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. The best thing so far is a way deeper discovery of each country, meeting and talking to more locals than traveling with friends.. I am getting touch with local communities and NGOs, seeing a real life of the people and their needs. Currently volunteering for a week – this is a freedom which I would probably not have if travelling in a group. I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 8, 2014 at 5:13 am

      Hi Lucie! Thanks, pleased you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing about it. Travelling solo is one of those things that can change our lives for the better. We get to meet alot of amazing like minded individuals and groups who change from strangers to friends in a heartbeat, they last forever. I hope you will continue to enjoy this trip of yours :)

  2. Aeron Hier

    July 8, 2014 at 1:07 am

    One of my weaknesses is to travel alone. I feel like im not safe and would be better if someone shares laughter and happiness while traveling.

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 8, 2014 at 5:05 am

      Hi Aeron, I could say it is very empowering! I’d recommend travelling with 1 or 3 friends before you try going solo! But the end result will surprise you :)

  3. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine

    July 8, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I’ve never had the courage to just take off and travel on my own. I have moved to different countries on my own- and you’re right– it does push you to make a lot of new friends! Great piece.

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 8, 2014 at 8:14 am

      Thanks Michelle :) I wish you will make plans to do it one day! It was an eye opening experience for me and gave me alot to look for in my coming years

  4. anna

    July 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Great story ! It is such a buzz backpacking on your own. I did it many years ago, way before the internet age and it is amazing how often you, by pure chance, bump into people you met months ago. As a solo traveller you rarely travel alone anyway as you meet so many people on the way ! Enjoy your adventures !

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 8, 2014 at 10:29 am

      I am gonna try go on so many adventures as much as I can! Thanks Anna :) And yes! travelling alone gives us an ample of friendships that are forged with love and memories that will stay with us for as long as we live & can remember.

  5. Franc Ramon

    July 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I guess you have more flexibility when you are backpacking solo.

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 8, 2014 at 2:12 pm

      Yeah! That is very true, Franc. Freedom and flexibility go together in that sense.

  6. Sin Yee

    July 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Awww. I have planned for backpacking. but not solo, with my dearest. I bet he won’t let me backpack myself. =\

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 9, 2014 at 8:36 am

      I still hope it will be a great one for you :)

  7. kat centeno

    July 8, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I always like traveling with friends but solo travel is something I wanted to try at least once in my lifetime.

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 9, 2014 at 8:37 am

      It is a life changing experience! I loved it :)

  8. Maya

    July 8, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    While I’ve definitely caught the wanderlust bug myself, I haven’t travelled solo much. I’ve been lucky enough to have a travel companion with the same interests (but it’s true we do make compromises). Seems like such an enriching experience to go solo though! Great article, definitely sparked my interest to try it sometime

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 9, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Maya, I am glad it did! And I hope you will get to have yet another awesome travel experience!!

  9. Fernando Lachica

    July 8, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    So very true when you travel solo, lots of things to explore, discover with yourself and you learn something out of your capacity. Nice article Ahmed.

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 9, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Glad you enjoyed reading it! Thanks Fernando :)

  10. Janine

    July 9, 2014 at 1:04 am

    I enjoyed reading your post. I may have come to this point that I will travel solo someday. But for now, I want to travel with my friends or family bec I want someone to talk to when travelling. Reason is, my life for now is almost going on solo. hehehe. It kinda sucks!

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 9, 2014 at 8:36 am

      But when you do, you’ll probably wish you have done it all this time before 😀 I wish for you awesome adventures!

  11. Eng Tinkham

    July 9, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I love the number 7. I will be traveling in my own when I turn 30 😀 Thank you for the tips!

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      You are welcome! I am glad you liked it :)

  12. Tiffany Yong

    July 10, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Solo backpacking is a hidden wish that I don’t dare to try it myself as I’m such a small size girl!

    But indeed, it is better than couch surfing!

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      It is fit for all travelling sizes too 😀

  13. Tarek Salah

    July 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Ahmed, loved your article man! I also love going solo, i went to Europe solo in 2012 & had the best time ever, this coming September i had plans with friends from Egypt to go again, however i think they are BS’n as usual so i’m doing it solo once again!

    • Ahmed Amer

      July 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Tarek, That’s awesome! It is def! my best trips when I go solo :)

  14. Adrián Palma

    July 14, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I really like your words! I also travel solo and there’s something mistic or magic that happens while you discovery new places, make new friends and learn their cultures…

    Yo tambien hablo un poco dos idiomas, y creo que una de las cosas mas importantes que debemos tener listo para lanzarnos a una aventura como esta.

    Saludos, greetings…

    But ther

  15. Nona

    August 4, 2014 at 1:56 am

    Hi Ahmed!

    What a great article! I am planning to go backpacking, but i was so hesitant to go alone. You inspired me to travel solo and join couch surfing! Just don’t know where to start! :)

    Thanks so much!

    • Ahmed Amer

      August 5, 2014 at 1:45 am

      Hi Nona!
      Thank you :)
      I am so happy to be an inspiration for you to travel & explore! So glad you came across my post :)

  16. VeNoMmx

    August 17, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Great day to you Ahmed:
    Thanks for the article, I just had my first CS trip with a bunch of strangers (haven´t met anyone before, just one guy) and I really liked it, it was so good and I want to get more of that. I’m kind of afraid to go solo, but thanks to your article I know I’ll travel solo soon. Love from Mexico.
    Thanks again, I’ll read your other two articles about traveling.

    • Ahmed Amer

      August 17, 2014 at 4:06 am

      Thank you very much! I feel happy that my article align with your current thoughts & believes! And yes, every time you take a new challenge it will open a new side to you in oneself we couldn’t have discovered before. Likewise! Travel changes alot of things inside ourselves. Have a great day yourself :)

  17. Oink

    October 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I really like this article! It gets me so psyched to travel! Thank you so much! 😀

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