I am a little less than a week away from hitting the European rail system and doing my first ever solo backpacking trip around Europe. I’ll be on the move for 36 days as I visit at least ten different countries with a high possibility of more. For that, I decided to write about how to travel by yourself.
How to travel by yourself – what makes it so great?
I’ve read so much about great backpacking trips in which the travelers meet lifelong friends and are fortunate enough to experience life-changing events that alter their whole view on life and change their career plans; how am I not supposed to be nervous for all of that to hit me simultaneously?
I cannot lie, I am so ecstatic that I have already mock-packed my backpack twice – each time testing the convenience and weight of what I was packing – and I am still five days away from my departure. I am excited for the minimalist living part of it (my personal challenge is to keep my backpack’s weight under seven pounds without my laptop). But I can’t help but think that I am in way over my head with this trip.
I’ve never traveled without my car, cell phone service (yes, I am being too frugal to buy a European SIM card), or a general sense of what to expect. The thought of having nowhere to sleep at night in a country that speaks a language I’m not familiar with and no capabilities to freely travel to a new destination or call anyone for help scares the hell out of me.
The haunting, reoccurring thought of being truly alone the whole month and not being able to make friends in the cities I’m visiting makes me reconsider why I wanted to do this adventure in the first place. Why would I want to do it alone? It would be much better to have a friend along for the ride, right?
Why I prefer solo travel
Actually, not in my opinion. I prefer solo travel. There are benefits from solo travel that you don’t have when traveling with someone. Plus, you can always make friends on the road. If you bring a friend along, you can never truly be alone. I think alone time is necessary during travel to self-reflect. Don’t let feeling alone be the nightmare that keeps you awake at night, rather, bask in it.
I have all of these terrifying thoughts of a backpacking horror story or miserable a miserable experience these next 36 days, but that slim sliver of hope that I will live out one of those all-time backpacking tales that are hardly believable and I am able to tell for decades upon decades to anyone new that I meet is what keeps me anxious.
All you can worry about is what you can control. Make sure you are prepared physically, mentally, and financially- after that, the rest will literally play itself out. Fate has a funny way of taking you exactly where you need to be in the end.
There is no reason the days leading up to a backpacking trip around a whole different continent should not be the most anxious days of your life. Go out and live it to the fullest!
And remember, if you need advice on how to travel by yourself before or during your travels, you can always contact me with questions.