Friday, June 14, 2019

5 tips for first-time solo backpackers

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Backpacking solo for the first time is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Traveling alone to a new locale is already startling, more so if you are deliberately staying away from some of the usual “conveniences” of travel such as hefty luggage, staying a 5-star hotel, and being bussed around with a tour group. To help banish the anxiety and help you truly dive into your next adventure, read on for 5 of our best loved tips for first time solo backpackers! 


1. Research All You Can About Your Destination/s

The saying “Knowing is half the battle” is also true for backpacking. Researching for your next trip entails more than plotting out your itinerary and finding out where to sleep. You also need to look up things that could impact your personal safety such as the climate, possible security risks, travel advisories, and even places that tourists (especially women) should avoid. If you are overseas, look up the contact information and addresses of the consulates or embassies of your country of origin to help you out should in case things go very wrong while abroad. It is also a good idea to research the local culture such as customary dress codes for both men and women, dining customs, and other finer points of etiquette, in order to avoid any unforgiveable faux pas while on the move. 

2. Purchase Travel Insurance

It may seem like an additional expense on your list but getting travel insurance helps you prevent spending even more when the unimaginable happens. The unimaginable can mean sudden illnesses or hospitalizations, losing cash and valuables, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events. There are a variety of travel insurance policies available locally, which can all be applied for varying trip lengths. It is a small price to pay to avoid expensive overseas transactions or worse. 

3. Secure Your Belongings Once, Twice, Many Times

You can never be too vigilant about your belongings when traveling alone. Make sure that you keep all cash, cards and other valuables on your person, even when asleep. Although many accommodations such as hostels have safes and other security systems, bringing your own padlock also helps you place another security measure. Always make sure to have hard copies of IDs and other important documents, should in case the originals be misplaced during the trip. 

4. Talk to New People

Backpacking solo does not equate becoming antisocial. Part of the fun of solo travel is getting to meet new people, both travellers and locals alike. One great way to meet other tourists, especially backpackers, is at hostels with plenty of common spaces to mingle. You can pick up so many tips on budget, itinerary and must-see spots from other backpackers. Talking to concierges, shopkeepers, baristas, drivers, and other people living and working in your destination is a great way to gain insight on the area. Feeling a little shy? Try to stick with the well-worn tourist spots at first, where people are more likely to be accommodating, before going off the beaten track. 

5. Learn the Language

A great way to gain plus points with everyone you meet while backpacking is to learn the language/s in your destination. While in most places there are people who are conversant in English, more often than not the persons you really need to talk to are much more able to explain what you need to know in their local language. Learning the vernacular, or at least the basics, helps you readily read street signs and directions, score bargains when haggling at markets, and avoid being duped by unscrupulous characters. Best of all, it shows your hosts and people around you that you are truly interested in immersing in their world and enjoying it. 

Solo travel in any form is an adventure that is on many people’s bucket lists, and something that can rejuvenate both body and spirit. Like with anything new, backpacking alone require only a little precaution to ensure that you get the best possible experience, especially when exploring someplace new. By taking heed of these tips and other pro advice from other backpackers, you will be ready to hit the road in no time! 

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