So you decided to explore the world on your own. A couple of weeks, two months, half a year. It doesn’t matter how long you go, you are going alone and that can be a bit scary sometimes. I admit it immediately: the only fear I had before traveling was nothing but the fear of being alone. I was not worried at all about malaria, bus accidents, scary guys in the dark or disgusting insects. But having no one to talk to though…
Let me make this clear for once and for all: you are never alone. During my six months journey I just met one girl who was a bit unlucky. After two weeks of traveling she was still on her own. Despite the fact that she was actually really kind, she was also the stereotype girl everything goes wrong with. I could have written a book about her. She just couldn’t help it but I think she still had a fantastic time.
Everyone is alone
The good thing about backpacking is – something I forgot in the beginning as well – everyone has the same ‘problem’. Especially in Southeast Asia there were a lot of people traveling on their own and it was actually pretty rare to meet people there who were backpacking together. And also those people were really open and social. Not weird at all if you have to travel for three months with the same person all the time. So it’s really easy to get connected. If you are not looking for someone, they will find you (unless you curl yourself up somewhere in a corner obviously). You really don’t need to be the most social person on earth. I am not always social either, but that part will develop itself at some point.
You get to learn other cultures
I am just being honest: I don’t really like to travel with other Dutch persons, sorry Dutchies! Of course I did, because Dutch people are literally everywhere (we are some kind of wasp plague sometimes abroad). But I just find it interesting to meet people from other countries. You learn something about their culture, learn what the differences are, get to know some interesting facts (did you know that the French don’t like to drink the last bit of beer out of their bottle?) and you get the opportunity to talk in another language, which is good for your own education. My English and German are way better then before (at least when I listen (German) and talk (English)). You also build up new friendships and you have some new places to sleep. And you also take more time to meet the locals, although that is also a nice thing to do with company.
You can do whatever you want to do
And sometimes it’s just good to be on your own for a while. I traveled alone as well, with my headphones plugged in, eyes closed with know idea what was going on in the world at that moment. Just because I didn’t want to talk at that moment and I just wanted to be alone with my thoughts. No problem at all right? That’s the amazing thing about backpacking alone: you can go and do whatever you want to do. You don’t have to take account for other people and if you don’t want to do something, you just don’t do it. Done. Luckily we live in a time period where social media and WiFi is really common and you can share a lot of things with the people back home (although I am more the person who receives messages with: Are you still alive?!). Home has never been so close.
Tips to make new contacts:
• Ask the people on the road in which hostels they slept and which are good to stay in (or maybe: which ones not!). Most of the people I traveled with were the people I met in the hostels, especially because most hostels have a common area where you can do activities and meet other backpackers.
• Don’t be afraid to ask. While traveling it’s not weird at all to ask someone if he or she wants to go for some food or a drink. Or to visit a temple or a nice beach or something. Before you know you had a great day or night and you’ve met a new travel buddy. And if there is no connection between the two of you? Well, tomorrow is a brand new day.
• Join some group activities. A lot of hostels organize a lot of activities. So you never have to stay behind on your own. Or just hit the road by yourself and see who you meet up that day!
But the best tip: Enjoy! I can make sure you will meet people then who want to enjoy together with you.