first solo budget travel trip

First solo budget travel trip.

The year was 2010 – The year my life changed forever.

After years of fantasizing and thinking “I wish I could do that” – I finally stopped thinking about it and took the plunge. I quit my job, I sold as much as I could (it wasn’t much) and saved as much as I could (again, it was no way near enough.) My first backpack was bought, it was packed and off I went to embark on my first solo budget travel trip with the little amount of money I had managed to save.

Granted, I had been on a few ‘lads holidays’ before (typical Brit abroad booze filled holidays) but this was my first real ‘traveling’ trip of any substance. I chose to go all in, not just for a few weeks or months but a full year backpacking through Australia (Backpacking Australia: my overview.) However what was meant to be a one year traveling trip to find myself. – Turned into 6 years of continuous solo budget backpacking around the world. And, If you’re wondering, I still haven’t found myself.

first solo budget travel trip

Although I can now be considered a seasoned solo budget traveler, it wasn’t always the case. Back in 2010, I was just as novice and wide-eyed as anybody about to head out on their first solo budget trip.

Your first solo budget travel trip.

All of us who make the decision to travel solo are a little mad, a bit on the weird side (some more than others) our minds don’t operate ‘normally’. – Why else would you chose to go to a foreign country all by yourself?

At the end of the day though, everybody who chooses to travel solo has their own reasons, and you will have yours. It could be as simple as there’s just nobody else who can travel with you. It could be to challenge and prove that you can do it or you might just want to give it a go. You might be running away from your problems or something even deeper – Whatever it is, it’s your reason. (If you’re interested in why I travel solo, have a gander at this – Solo traveling: Why it suits me!)

first solo budget travel trip

Just remember, it doesn’t matter who you are or what the reasoning behind your decision is; solo budget travel will challenge you. It won’t just take you out of your comfort zone, it will yank you out of it! Especially if you’re looking to do it long-term – but that’s half the fun and why some of us love it so much!

Your first solo budget travel trip will be one big learning curve.

No amount of planning and research will truly prepare you for your first experience –  It’s going to be a crazy, unpredictable ride filled with incredible highs and lows. My advice for you? Strap in and get ready for the ride!

Your first solo budget travel trip will change you, it will teach you, challenge you, test you, push you, it will open your eyes, and at times it will even try to break you. Solo traveling, well budget traveling of any type isn’t always glamorous and rosy. There will be days when you question why you’re doing it, days you will feel lonely, times you will miss home, times when you feel down-right depressed; It’s just part of the learning curve.

first solo budget travel trip

However, if you can learn to cope and deal with the bad, then coming out the other end of the proverbial shit pipe solo budget traveling can be so fulfilling and enriching. You will grow as a person, you’ll learn so much about yourself, your character and what you are made of. Solo budget traveling is like a life lesson on who are you, how you deal with the knocks. Yes, there will be hard times but you will reap the rewards. You will have incredible experiences, your mind will be filled with unforgettable memories and stories(Unless you’re like me and don’t have the best memory). Take it from me because of solo budget traveling, I’m a completely different guy to the one who left for Australia in 2010.

So, will solo budget traveling for you?

I won’t lie, Solo traveling isn’t for everybody, some people like myself swear by it, while others prefer to travel in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to travel, some people prefer luxury travel, traveling in groups or with a partner, some people prefer short holidays. I always say, you should travel how it suits you best.

So, After your first solo budget travel trip, from your whole experience, the good, the bad, the highs and lows; you’ll  know and decide if it’s for you, or just not your cup of tea.

Throughout my traveling years, I’ve come across so many first time solo budget travelers. Some have thrived and found their calling in life while others have realized it’s not for them for one reason or another. Just as people have their own reasons to why they want to try solo traveling they will have their reasons to why it did or did not work out and it will be the same for you.

first solo budget travel trip

A certain type of person?

It’s funny because, before my first trip I thought you needed to be a certain type of person or have a certain type of character to be able to travel solo. – But I was so wrong! I’ve met so many different characters and personalities solo traveling around the world, from confident, arrogant, pretentious, stupid (No common sense), weird, crazy, to quiet, shy, introverts, nervous, anxious.

Some of the most inspiring people I’ve me traveling are the ones you challenged themselves to do it. The ones that wanted to prove to the friends and family who said they wouldn’t last that they actually could.

A little story.

One of those people, a friend of mine now, has over the years really shown me how much solo traveling can help somebody grow. He was a nervous wreck the first time I met him, so much so that a few of us in the hostel actually took him under our wing to help him. He couldn’t get his head around currency, his head was in the clouds, he was a perfect target for petty criminals. And, that’s the great thing about solo travelers, we help each other out. A few of us helped him settle, taught him a few things and helped him feel comfortable in his new environment.

Anyway, long story short, a few months down the line, I bumped into him again and although he was still quite shy and nervous you could clearly tell he had come out of his shell, he participated and interacted with people with more confidence. Over the years we’ve kept in touch and to this day he travels solo and always thanks me for helping him through his first few days. That first trip helped him grow as a person so much.

I’m not saying this will happen to everybody, on the flip side, I’ve come across people who have decided to back home after having a set back, or not willing to take a knock. If you’re a person that needs to have everything handed to you, or you’re not willing to be knocked down once or twice then solo budget travel might not be for you. Sorry if that offends you, I’m just being honest.

However if getting knocked down doesn’t scare you, if you’re willing to ride the bumps to smell the roses then solo budget travel will be an unforgettable adventure.

Things to get used to during your first solo budget travel trip.

first solo budget travel trip

During your first solo budget travel trip, there will be so much you learn, things you have to do and get used to like:

  • Get used to plans ever-changing, thinking on your feet and having to re-adjust your options.
  • Be prepared not to be prepared.
  • Learn to budget (I learnt the hard way)
  • Coping without a support network around you.
  • Learn what budget traveling life is really like.
  • LEARN TO USE COMMON SENSE (Seems to missed on a lot of travelers.)
  • Looking after your own things, keeping a tight eye on personal and important belongings like your passport.
  • Become efficient at packing, unpacking and packing.
  • Become accustomed  to moving from place to place.
  • Get used to overnight travel (sleeper buses, local transport.)
  • Look for cheaper (Accommodation, food, activities etc)
  • Organizing how to do tours/activities by yourself without getting ripped off, learn to haggle and get better deals.
  • Shopping and Cooking for yourself, or learning to do it for yourself.
  • Doing your own laundry.
  • Cleaning up after yourself (Your mum ain’t there to help you, and nobody else is going to clean up for you.)
  • Learning to pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Getting used to enjoying the moment.
  • Enjoying to your own company, enjoying spending time with yourself (Sometimes it’s hard.)
  • Learning to get from one place to another all by yourself. (using maps, or google maps)
  • Ok, this one sounds stupid but you have to get used to waking up at different times for different reasons.
  • Learning to make friends on the fly. (Some friendships last for a few days, others a lifetime.)
  • Times you have to eat by yourself (I’m still not totally comfortable with this.)
  • Making hard decisions by yourself, and not letting outside voices influence you. (Like when you need to move on but people are telling you to stay.)
  • For some people, learn to socialize and take part in group activities.

***

There is so much more you will come across, learn and come to terms with on your first solo budget travel trip but those I’ll leave for you to find out. At the end of the day, your first trip will be an unforgettable time. It will stay with you forever, and maybe like it did with me, it might just change your life.

If you’re heading out on your first solo budget travel trip and have a lot of questions swimming around in your head, I’ve put together a comprehensive solo traveling F.A.Q’s page of pretty much every question I’ve been asked about solo traveling. Solo traveling F.A.Q’s – Your questions answered. 

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47 Comments

  1. Great post Amit! As you know, like you I am a massive fan of solo travel! I think the main reason I like solo travel is the freedom to do what I want to do, and not have to align to anyone else’s plans. It’s not that I’m selfish, and I do like the company of others – but the things I want to do aren’t necessarily what they want to do, so being a solo traveller gives you more freedom 🙂 x

  2. enjoyed reading your post as I too have tried solo traveling last year. Believe me, no matter how much you pan for it but it has thrill which cannot be predicted.

  3. As a mom, the closest I have come to solo travel is going without the kids. Or without the hubby on a girls weekend. I admire solo travelers, and I think trying it once would be good for me, for everybody. It disconnects us from that support and that comfort zone. I would love to be able to focus on what it is I want to see, and focus as long as I please. I would be nervous and probably quite intimidated, but I think spending some time with ourselves, learning thru experience, is healthy.

  4. Glad to hear that you finally took the plunge and took . Very impressive that your one year trip has turned into 6 years of continuous solo budget backpacking . I came to London from Australia (the other way to you) for a year and 14yrs later I am still here. Even though I am married, I sometimes on my own as I travel write full time, the older I have gotten the more I enjoy solo traveling. You don’t have to answer to anyone and you can pretty much do what you want. Good luck with the rest of travels
    Mel Butler recently posted…Campo Viejo Winery – La Rioja SpainMy Profile

  5. That’s a great adventure! Most of my recent trips I do as a solo traveler. It is much more fun, especially in cities, where you can easily make new friends and meet new people. Moreover, you discover the local culture more being solo.

  6. I love travelling solo, although it’s been a while. With the few trips I took solo, they gave me great confidence. I’m not sure if travelling long-term is for me but I love the thrill of travelling. I’m not sure if we do ever find ourselves or if we’re ever meant to. We’re complex creatures us humans 🙂

  7. There is a certain thrill in traveling solo and also, some advantages too as you yourself have shared. Your tips definitely go well into making this an enjoyable and safe experience to. Every once in a while, we should all do it for it helps to be with yourself

  8. I’ve never travelled by myself. I probably won’t ever, now – perhaps I should have. But I’ve seen the huge positive impact it’s had on friends who took the plunge and went for it, even if they had hardly travelled before. Many of your travel tips are helpful for other types of traveller too, so thank you!

  9. couldn’t agree with you more on this..solo travel is not cup of tea for everyone..some people like it ,and solo travel sometime increases teh cost of the trip..thanks for sharing all teh tips..love the read

  10. I did my first solo and (semi-) budget trip last year, so your advice really resonated with me. The overall experience was awesome – but getting there, planning for it, and watching every dollar that left my wallet was a little unnerving. That said, 10/10 would do again. 🙂

  11. I love all the tips and insight into being a solo budget traveler. I don’t know if I could do that myself but you’ve given some great details into the lifestyle, thanks!

  12. You’re right solo travel is a one big learning curve. Cause if nobody with anyone then you will learn and watch people and thing in a deep. It happened with me in my solo trip. But you made Great list of things it can give help to solo travelers from their first trip.

  13. Travel is indeed a catalyst that triggers company transformations. If you are travelling solo, you learn more and the transformation that happens from within is even more pronounced. As you have mentioned travelling solo is not all glamour and froth. It has its share of challenges and can become a tough proposition for some.

  14. I read yoru post and think about my first solo trip. I did all the mistakes…overpacking, neary missing my plane. Yes, solo travel has definitely a learning curve. Yet I think that most of skills can be used in real life too, so it it worth it.

  15. As they say, you just have to take the first leap… 2010 has been really a good year for you… congrats for the 6 years and counting of solo traveling…

    “People go. people leave…” I always remind myself of this… Now, I’m even better in saying goodbye… I understand how difficult to leave at first… Part of traveling….

    Thanks for the tips,

  16. Totally agree that solo budget travel changes you! The trip for me was in 2007, and I took off from Australia to Europe for a year. What a year! It was definitely a huge learning curve, and it was incredible, but like you mentioned, the reality is that it’s not always going to be rosy – homesickness and what not. You definitely don’t have to be a certain type of person to travel solo – just need to have the want and the passion for exploration!

    Great list of things that solo travelers can expect from their first trip – the biggest one I try to stress to others, so I was glad to see it here in all caps, is to use your common sense. Common sense = safety pretty much everywhere!

  17. It’s definitely important to learn to budget, to travel extremely lowcost and to avoid unnecessary spendings. Sometimes it seems like an expense is not much but you have to always think in the long term when you travel and sometimes it can definitely affect your budget. I had to learn the hard way as well haha
    Wallis recently posted…24 Hours in HomerMy Profile

  18. i love travelling with my husband but solo travelling has its own charm..thats why me and my husband takes a few trips every year solo and we love it..and with budget you can travel to so many places..thansk for sharing this blog..it felt like i was reading my own story. 🙂

  19. Solo traveling, budget traveling and traveling for so long at a stretch – each one of these is something I aspire to do in future sometime. You are so right about the learning curve and the various experiences that we will gain in the first year. Thanks for sharing these insights
    neha recently posted…Commute Options on Europe tripMy Profile

  20. Great tips, this took me back to my first solo travels. There were no blogs back then to dispense advice. Everyone had to figure it out on their own (okay, maybe with the help of guidebooks but those deal with destinations, not traveling itself). My advice would be to just go!

  21. Thanks for sharing the experience. I like when people tell personal stories in the way you do! I have been on solo trips as well. There have been things I liked and didn’t like.
    While it was great to plan time the way you want, I was missing friends, actually missing people that I know well. Yes, you meet a lot of people on the trip, but it is not the same. You spend some hours … or up to a couple of days together, and then almost never keep in touch eventually.
    Alexander Popkov recently posted…Kingdom of ghosts, colors, and steel – a night at Duisburg-NordMy Profile

  22. Although I’m not much of a backpacker, I do travel solo and often times on a budget. I aligned with many of the statements you made and truly believe that spending time alone getting to know yourself is one of the most important parts of life that many people never do.

  23. hi
    i am not sure , but yes i dont think this can be for everyone who likes to travel . there are a lot of situations associated with leaving everything behind and just moving on …
    but well written , and loved the flow of the article

  24. I must confess I am sometimes baffled why solo travel seems weird to anyone. Why are we mad? Why is it the default that one must have a travel partner? Solo and non-solo both have their advantages, and the ones for solo seem so obvious–you don’t have to deal with another person. Your schedule is all you. Some people like it and some don’t, that’s it. I think you summed it up above by saying “There is no right or wrong way to travel”.

  25. I loved how you stressed the ups AND DOWNS of solo travelling. The good thing about the downs and challenges is that you usually come out as a much stronger person. And that is something a lot of people back home cannot really get their heads around. I wish more people would travel on their own for a while, experience challenging situations, really get to know themselves and come out stronger and with a different mindset.

  26. I always try to travel on a budget, though I must admit, we are able to be a lot more flexible these days. Still, I am amazed at how far people are able to stretch their dollar. It really is possible to travel even without a lot of money. Good tips:)

  27. It’s so true that solo travel is not for everybody. Some people enjoy their own company and mingle easily, while others cannot imagine going to a place all by themselves. But you can never know if solo travel is your cup of tea or not unless you take the plunge and try it at least once in your life! It is quite intimidating at first (saying it from my own experience) but whether you enjoy it or not, and whether you want to do it again or not, it is sure to teach you a LOT of things (it’s a learning curve like you said)- about people, and about yourself. Great post Amit, I’m sure a lot of people who are considering their first solo travel will be inspired 🙂

  28. Great post to make people out there take the first step into the world! My first and only solo trip was interrailing in Europe when I was twenty. Long story short…I was to insecure to really enjoying the trip on solo! If I am to do the same voyage as I am now…I would have a blast! However. I am now married to a guy who is the perfect travel partner to me! We have been backpacking 6 month in SEA and 15 month round the world. Next spring we are leaving againg for atleast 3 years…with our daughter the mini tourist! So at the end, I prefer sharing my great travel moments and bad one with the people I love.

  29. There is so much to learn through solo budget travel. When I was younger, I used to do that and loved the experience of meeting new people and socializing with people from different cultures. But now that I’m older, it is hard for me to continue traveling solo. Time evolves and your travel style evolves too.

  30. You’re so right about the bad sides of travel – any type really. It can get tiring, lonely and yes, even depressing. On the plus, you learn so much about yourself and do grow as a person! That’s the best thing about it, and meeting cool people along the way!

    • Ahh see your seeing it from the wrong perspective, haggling is a game to them and for us..even the locals haggle,it’s part of certain cultures ….the tours you speak of,they over price them for tourists…there job is to get the highest price and ours to get the lowest ..from countries I’ve lived in and got to know locals I know just how much they will try and rip tourists off…jist because you think it’s cheap compared to what you might pay at home…when you pay them what they ask they are laughing at you, and this is coming from the locals…they see tourists as cash cows …and they will try milk you as much as they can. Haggling is definetly a skill well worth learning 😊😊

  31. Good on you turning one year of travel into six! That’s amazing. It’s interesting how you mention how you’ve met many different types of personalities travelling solo, when you thought it would really only be one type of person. I guess sometimes it’s easy to think that way but that’s the beauty of travel – it changes us and the way we think. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Wow how courageous of you to quit your job and start this on your own! Loved hearing about your trip and what you’ve learned. Though we mostly travel together these days, when we do have to travel alone… the whole eating alone part can still be difficult. Totally agree with ya!

  33. So many great tips here, and I hope they really encourage everyone to get out and travel. If you wait for someone else to join you or want to do exactly the same things you do, you’ll miss out on so much.

  34. Good for you – you’ve done it! I’ve been travelling solo forever and love it. I get more things done – and if I need company, there are all these friendly local people and fellow travellers. I like how you brake it down in the list. So welcome to the club.

  35. I love that we’re on a similar timeline – traveling the world starting 2010. It’s been really fun to look around your site and see so many parallels in our journeys.

    I would add to your bullet list (although maybe “no support network” means the same thing), “getting used to friends and family back home not empathizing with your life. It can be a strange type of loneliness to march to the beat of your own drum, no? But so rewarding, too!

    Happy Travels! 🙂

  36. I only started to travel by myself when I was working in an International role and quite well established, so I’ve never done the budget travel bit. But I do admire those who do and I agree with your comments about how it helps you grow as a person. Many of your tips are just as relevant whether or not you are a budget traveller
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…In Bruges – A Medieval City and Much MoreMy Profile

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