Tips for women solo backpackers
If I waited for someone to go with me.”
I love being with people, I love having company,I love being surrounded by friends and family and maybe this is the reason I feel that I never really made efforts to become friends with that one person who matters the most.That person is ME.
That is until NOW.
I feel like a totally different person after the 5 weeks I spent with myself in a different part of the world, in an unfamiliar terrain.I have traveled before, and I have gone to some really beautiful places,but this time it was different.
One thing which made it different was that this time I was alone.I made this choice as I knew it was time I got to know myself a little better.
So if you are someone like me,who is contemplating whether to take the giant leap of traveling alone or not,read on.I was on the same boat, but now that I am on the other side after having done what I thought was going to be difficult;I know what all is there to gain.Trust me,there is a lot more to gain than to lose.
For me the main 5 learning’s/gains were as below:
1) Learn not to give a damn:
I was one of those people who had never ever gone to watch a movie alone, never had eaten food in a restaurant without company and neither had I ever gone to museums or amusement parks on my own.The reason was I was worried of what people were going to think.If they would feel pity for me,thinking that the poor girl had no friends or close ones and thus was wandering alone.
The truth which I realise now, after having done all of the above is that- NO ONE CARES.Frankly,no one is even noticing you as they are so preoccupied with their own lives.And even if they are noticing you,then who gives a damn.
That person probably has nothing better to do, and thus is noticing you.Take it as a compliment.He/She considers you as a person worth noticing.So go on,flaunt a little.Enjoy being stared at.
While on my backpack trip, after a while(once I had gotten used to it)I loved spending time with myself; whether that was while I was eating alone in a restaurant or while taking walks around the neighborhood.Even now, after the trip is over,I do all of the above as often as I can.I have accepted myself as a friend who’s company I cherish.
2) Learn to be Independent:
While most of us don’t realize and might think that we are very independent, but the actual truth is very different.We unconsciously are dependent on so many people, and when suddenly cut off from all these people for a span of time ; the realization of being responsible for oneself suddenly punches in the face.Whether it is the matter of being careful about your stuff,your safety and security,your money,your well being etc,everything has to be done by your own self.This is when you truly appreciate what you have and learn to be truly independent.
3) Learn to savour the small things in life:
When you travel alone on a fixed budget,you learn to prioritize things and spend accordingly.If before my trip,someone would have told me to travel in a bus for 24 hours or stay in a shared dorm or eat meals at small deli’s;I probably would have laughed and out-rightly refused.I am not saying I was spoilt,but I would not do the above because I wouldn’t understand why I should be doing it when I can afford the more comfortable option.
But like I said,with a restricted budget there are two choices- either spend a lot,spoil yourself but travel lesser number of days,or,spend wisely and get more time to explore more places.
For me the choice was clear-the longer the better.And thus,I did not mind bus journeys,hostel stays and deli dining.In fact I was pleasantly surprised that these things which people might perceive as cumbersome,are actually quite comfortable and fun.You just have to have faith and jump.You won’t regret it.
4) Learn to get out of your comfort zone:
When you are with your own set of friends,you will most likely never make the effort to walk up to a stranger or a group of people and strike up a conversation.That is because you are in your comfort zone with people you know.When travelling on your own,you are pushed to challenge yourself to overcome your shyness,public fear,ego,arrogance or whatever quality you possess;and instead just start a conversation with the person next to you and take it from there.For me,I would enjoy the day in my own company and in the evenings when I would head back to the hostel,I would make efforts to make new friends and get to know them better.Trust me,unless that person you make an effort to talk to is a total jackass, no one is going to be blunt and cut you off or walk out on you.Everyone who is travelling looks forward to socialize(well at least most of travellers do).
5) Learn to discover the REAL you:
Lastly,the most important thing that you gain from travelling alone is that you get to know the REAL you.When your travel with friends or family or with your better half,you are obligated to take other’s opinions in consideration before making plans.If the others are not keen for a particular thing,then most probably you would end up dropping it.
But this is not the case when you are on your own.You can try out things that you never thought you would and find out for yourself on whether you like it or not.You can face your fear and learn how to overcome it.There is no one to judge you,and hence you can enjoy doing what you want to do at your own sweet pace.
Like I mentioned before,I feel like a totally different person after my solo backpacking trip and I am 100% sure that you would feel the change too.
So stop thinking so much and just go for it.It is one item on the bucket list that has to be ticked.Once you get a flavour of it,I am sure you wouldn’t be able to resist doing it over and over again.
Do share your learning’s from travelling alone as well.Would love to hear from you.