I first started backpacking alone in July 2015. It was such a great experience I knew I needed to find time for it again this year. As a corporate slave, it can be difficult to find time to do a backpacking trip. Afterall, I had just started a new role last December and we are only entitled to 14 days of paid annual leave a year.
When I finally found the courage and money to travel last July, I felt helpless. This is why I wanted to start an entry to help others out there who is thinking or planning for their first solo trip, or to inspire others to take the leap of faith and join in the fun. This post will be especially useful(I hope!) for the ladies out there. I’m not an expert but if you’re a first-timer to backpacking or solo travelling, here’s some tips that you may find useful.
Start with somewhere near and safe
Taiwan is a good place to start. Located a mere 4.5 hours flight away, the island has a lot to offer, people are warm and friendly, and the place is pretty safe. If you just want to travel solo and chill somewhere by the beach, consider Boracay. You will be treated with one of the best sunset view and clear blue sea. Otherwise, give beautiful Australia a shot. Expect a mixture of gorgeous beaches as well as city and nature landscapes. Just in case anything happens, you are not located too far away from your family and the lack of time difference will minimise any potential issues.
While this may sound like an obvious thing to do, I find it really important to have a basic understanding of the place that you’re heading towards. Personally, I find airport transfer the most stressful part of a journey as it will determine how everything goes from this point onwards.
If you are not planning on getting data, it is good to ensure that you know the route to take the moment you leave the airport. Read up and bookmark your journey to ensure that you are safe! Book your hostel in advance to guarantee yourself a roof over your head, Agoda is always a safe bet for the lowest prices around. Also, check out the weather to ensure that you are bringing along adequate clothes for your trip. Ultimately, expect the unexpected.
Visit a place with no language barriers
The worse thing that can happen is when you lose your belongings as you frantically make your way to the embassy to get a passport replacement and end up dampening the mood for the rest of your trip. If English is your first language, go to a place that people know and speak English. Communication is key when you’re alone in a foreign land. Imagine this: You are lost and you have no data, what do you do? The most obvious thing is to put on a smile and ask strangers for directions. It’s a much safer bet if you are somewhere that shares a common language.
Stay in a hostel and make friends
If you’re worried that things will get boring when you travel, stay in the hostel and make some friends! In Taiwan, I knew other girls who were there as solo backpackers as well. On my last two days, I was to be back in Taipei and this Korean girl whom I knew shared the same itinerary. We ended up hanging out together as we ate our way through the night markets in Taipei before bidding each other goodbye. Of course, you can always excuse yourself if you need some time alone and fellow backpackers definitely know that.
There really isn’t much that you’ll need to worry if you’re intending or considering to travel alone. A little bit of research goes a long way. Take that leap of faith and go forth and travel.
This is part one of a two-part series. Next, I will be sharing some things to note when choosing a budget accomodation.