This is one topic that will come up quite a bit so y’all better get used to it.
If you’ve never backpacked Europe or anywhere else before, and you can’t find anyone with the funds, motivations, or commitment level like yours to go abroad and whet your travel appetite, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In fact, every year throughout the year, TravelPUNK will get a barrage of questions on the topic of traveling solo.
We’ve all had those same questions running through our heads about what to expect, how to do this or that, how will you communicate with locals if you don’t know their language, where to meet people, is it safe, how to get around, how much time in each country/city, etc, etc, etc…
As a first time solo traveller, you will have to tap into your instincts and skills that hardly ever have to come out in the comfort of your hometown.
If I didn’t travel solo myself of my first trip, then TravelPUNK.com most likely would not have been created. And for sure, my experiences would not have been as life altering as they were as I most likely would have spent a humongous amount of time relying on the interaction and company of my travel buddy/buddies.
I went with the simple logic of “Hey, I can party with my friends at home, why would I want to party with them overseas and miss the valuable experiences of taking in all the cultures around me…on my own tems?”
Was I lonely at times? Yes. But, I can be lonely on a daily basis at home, so I figured that if I got lonely on my travels, then I would embrace it. I would use that time to write in my journal (something that I never did at home), I would hit a local cafe and spend time observing the people and environment around me (I love to people watch), I would make an effort to meet another traveler or the locals, I would walk through another part of town that I had not been through yet, or build up the courage to try a new food dish…like frog legs!
I will tell you though, that I didn’t have too many days of loneliness because I have a tendency to force myself to integrate to whatever environment that I find myself in and create friends.
You must force yourself to do likewise. Force yourself to not only meet new people, but to build genuine personal relationships with them. These friendships can last a lifetime and going in with this mindset, you will see and experience more on your trip than you could ever have imagined.
Get used to talking to strangers- right now. You can start on our world famous backpacker, budget, college, and student travel forums. Our family style message boards has cool backpackers from around the world that you can practice your people skills on. If you can comfortably meet people online in a virtual world, imagine how much easier it will be for you to meet people in the real world.
Traveling solo for the first time can be a bit daunting, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Be positive.
Remember, if you do find yourself feeling a bit lonely, then force yourself to get active and stay occupied. Make an attempt to say hello to someone and strike a conversation immediately.
Rather than worry, occupy your mind by thinking. I once read that the founder of IBM used to walk around to different departments of his company and whenever he would see an employee worrying about something, he would have them write down the word WORRY on a piece of paper, then cross it out (like this
WORRY), then write the word “THINK” right above it.
Why? Because when your mind is occupied with “thinking,” it simply cannot put any attention to “worrying.”
Learn to be a problem solver. Having a “problem solver” mindset will all you to come up with quick and effective solutions to fight your loneliness and worry, not just on your travels, but in your everyday personal lives.
A recent topic posted on our message boards has some great info for all of you first time travelers, so check it out! If you’re on the road and need some assistance or ideas, our community of experienced backpackers and also give you a lift.
Solo backpacking isn’t for everyone, but it is most definitely a lot easier and more rewarding than you think.
Got any of your own tips that may help first time solo travelers? We’d like to hear from you! Please add your comments.