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A complete guide to solo backpacking

Unleash your wanderlust with our ultimate guide to solo backpacking. Learn planning, safety tips, budget tricks for a memorable adventure!

7min

solo backpacking

Solo trips are not just about visiting new locations; they're also about personal growth and transformation. As you traverse through off the beaten path destinations or embark upon popular places, every experience shapes you in ways unimaginable.

The thrill of setting off on your own adventure, exploring specific places at your pace and rhythm, is unmatched. But you also need some planning to have a great solo backpacking experience, and that's what this article is about.

Suggested reading: Everything you need to know about traveling the world alone.

Why go solo backpacking

The prospect of setting out on an unaccompanied backpacking journey can be both thrilling and intimidating. It's an opportunity to experience ultimate freedom, explore specific places at your own pace, meet new people from different cultures, and most importantly - grow as an individual.

Solo travel offers you the luxury of being in complete control over your journey. You get to decide where you want to go next or how long you wish to stay in one place without having any external influences dictating these decisions.

If during your big trip you come across a captivating sunset view or stumble upon hiking destinations which weren't part of your initial plan, there's nothing stopping you from altering plans. That's the beauty of going with the flow.

Another significant aspect associated closely with this type of adventure is self-discovery and personal growth. Challenges faced during such journeys provide opportunities to learn and adapt, thus helping build confidence and resilience within oneself.

The sense of accomplishment achieved after overcoming hurdles not only boosts morale but also instills valuable life skills, making a person more adaptable for future endeavors.

More on this topic: Top 5 benefits of traveling alone.


Girl at a train door during a solo backpacking trip

How to plan your solo backpacking trip

The prospect of planning a solo backpacking trip might seem daunting, but don't worry. With the right approach and resources, you can turn this task into an exciting part of your adventure.

Picking your destination

To start with, selecting the perfect destinations for your solo trip is crucial. You need to consider various factors such as climate conditions at different times of year, cultural differences that may affect how comfortable you feel there alone, or if language barriers could be an issue.

Of course, what are you looking for in this trip is essencial: are you up to some party-time followed by laid-back on the beach? Prefer a more introspective journey in contact with nature? Having clear goals will help you choose your destinations. 

Safety is another important consideration, especially when traveling by yourself, along with the cost of traveling in each potential location. Research plays a key role here.

If budget constraints concern you, or you simply wish to explore less popular yet equally fascinating countries, these often prove to be cheaper alternatives providing unique experiences too. These budget travel tips will prove very useful.

Always remember to check visa requirements prior to finalizing any plans to avoid unnecessary complications later down the line.


Girl with a backpack at a train station 

Finding affordable flights

Your next step should be securing affordable transportation to your chosen spot on the globe.

If flying will be your way of getting to your destination, consider using online platforms dedicated to offering discounted flight options, such as Skyscanner, which allows users to compare prices across multiple airlines simultaneously, thereby ensuring the best possible deals available at the time of booking.

Remember: flexibility in dates and airports whenever feasible, avoiding peak season, and buying the ticket months in advance, have a significant influence in ticket costs. 

Read these tips on How to find cheap airfare to increase your chances of success.

Crafting the perfect itinerary

An organized itinerary ensures maximum utilization of time abroad without sacrificing the spontaneity, an essential aspect of any true adventurer's spirit.

Begin by researching about places to visit in your destination and listing them. Then, search for these spots on a map and start crafting an itinerary according to their location. Leave some free days here and there for some relaxation and to be open to unexpected plans, something very common when backpacking solo. 

Golden rule: be flexible.

Looking for accommodation

Finding the right accommodation can sometimes be challenging, especially when you're working with a tight travel budget. Fortunately nowadays there are several online platforms like Booking, Hostelworld, and Agoda that make this process easier.

These platforms provide numerous options for every budget. They also allow you to compare prices, read reviews from fellow backpackers, and book well in advance, which often leads to significant savings.

Truth be told, sometimes the cheapest places in town aren't on the internet, so your only chance to stay at one of these places is by walking-in, but having your accommodation booked beforehand will save you quite a lot of stress at arrival.

In addition to these booking sites, though, there's another fantastic resource available: Worldpackers. This platform goes beyond just providing a place for you to rest your head at night; it gives travelers an exceptional opportunity by facilitating cultural immersions through volunteering opportunities worldwide. We'll dive into this later in the article.


Happy young guy in South Korea during a solo backpacking journey

How to get prepared for your big adventure

Solo backpacking is an exhilarating journey that requires careful preparation. This includes understanding safety recommendations, getting comfortable with solitude, mastering the art of packing light, and learning how to make friends on the road.

Prioritize safety recommendations

One's individual wellbeing should always be a key concern when organizing any single journey or backpacking excursion. Conduct thorough research about local customs and laws in your chosen destination before you embark on this adventure.

A crucial part of preparing for your big trip involves purchasing travel insurance that covers medical emergencies as well as unexpected cancellations or delays. You can get a 10% discount on international travel assistance insurance from PAX Assistance.

Become comfortable with solitude

The idea of being alone might seem daunting at first, but embracing solitude can lead to self-discovery and personal growth during solo trips. Start by spending more time alone before embarking on your journey; take yourself out for meals, explore new neighborhoods in your city, etc.

Maintain regular contact with loved ones via video calls while traveling solo, which helps alleviate feelings of loneliness too. Also, remember it's okay not to feel happy every moment - ups and downs are part of the experience. Anyways, rest assured that you'll ceratinly meet a lot of fellow solo backpackers on the road!

Keep reading: Why traveling solo is a social experience.


Guy walking in a beach at sunset

Master the art of packing light

When going backpacking alone, it's essential to pack light since there is no one else around to help carry heavy luggage.

Stick to only essentials: clothes suitable for the weather conditions of your destination (preferably quick-drying), toiletries in miniaturized versions if possible, and important documents like passport copies/insurance papers.

This article about minimalist packing list will definitely help you.

Meeting people on the road

Some potential solo travelers may worry about loneliness or isolation on their journey. But fear not! When backpacking solo, there are plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travelers and locals alike.

One way is by choosing hostels as your accommodation option. Hostels offer communal spaces and often activities that encourage social interaction among guests.

A more immersive experience can be found through volunteering with Worldpackers, where you'll have the chance to meet locals and international travelers alike. 

Meeting people while traveling requires an open mind and heart – don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with strangers and don't be too judgy about other people's culture, even if they differ to what you consider "normality". 


Group of guests from a hostel celebrating a birthday

Go solo backpacking with Worldpackers

Solo backpacking is a rewarding experience, and it becomes even more enriching when you choose to volunteer on the way, making a positive impact in local communities as well as saving money.

You could find yourself teaching English in Vietnam or working at an organic winery in Sicily - all these experiences not only enhance your life but make traveling affordable as all hosts provide free accommodation in exchange for your help, and ususally meals too.

How to postulate to be part of these projects? In the Worldpackers' platform you can find many volunteering opportunities around the world, from permaculture projects and holistic centers in natural settings to hostels in popular tourist destinations.

You just need to subscribe to the Worldpackers Community for free and start saving your favorite volunteer positions until you are ready to get verified.

Having the cost of accommodation covered during your time volunteering means that you can travel on a budget while doing a positive impact, learning new skills, and meeting people from different cultures and walks of life (both international volunteers and local hosts).

Read these articles to know more about the platform: Traveling with Worldpackers: your top questions answered and What is a work exchange and how does it work?


Group of volunteers with bags of rubbish picked from a hiking trail

Solo backpacking opens up a world of freedom and adventure. It's a chance to investigate, gain knowledge, progress, and form substantial relationships en route.

The journey begins with understanding why you want to embark on this solo expedition. Then comes the exciting part - planning your trip! From choosing your destination to finding affordable flights and accommodation.

Your preparation is key for a successful adventure. Safety measures, getting comfortable with solitude and packing light are all important aspects of it.

Making friends while traveling alone might seem daunting, but remember that fellow travelers are in the same boat as you!

If you like these tips, follow Worldpackers social media to keep up with the news: we are on Instagram and Tiktok.



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