Has the pandemic got you dreaming of wanderlust and packing your bags for traveling alone long term around the world in the future, but you have too many solo travel questions that need answering?
If you have, you’re in the right place.
While we can’t travel freely right now, there is no better time to gain knowledge, prepare for and get a deeper understanding for our future travels. Those questions you have are common, we all have them before we step out into the unknown. Some can be easily answered others cannot.
I know how it feels to have those solo travel questions constantly swimming around, I used to have them too. For years they stopped me from taking the leap, but eventually I did. That was in 2010, since then I’ve been traveling alone & roaming the world for over a decade. (apart from during the pandemic.) About me
You Yourself & the World
The solo travel questions haven’t stopped through the years, everybody from family, friends, to first time travelers ask them all the time and It’s through a lack of understanding
In January 2021, I published my first book: You Yourself & the World. It answers all the questions you can think of about traveling alone. It takes you behind the façade to show what long term solo travel is really like. However, most importantly is helps give you deeper knowledge and understanding for your future solo travels.
This post is a snapshot of the book containing two questions and short answers from each section of the book. If you’re not a heavy reader, haven’t got the time to read the book, this post will be easy to digest.
It’s important to note though, the book does go into far deeper explanations, provides further insights, tips and includes my personal experiences of traveling alone all over the world. You Yourself & the World is available on kindle and Amazon stores.
When long-term solo travel is just a thought
Q: How do I solo travel long-term?
However you want to, there is no right or wrong way. This is your journey and nobody else’s. It’s the beauty of traveling alone; you do what you want, when you want, and how you want as long as you are responsible and not reckless.
It doesn’t matter the type of person you are to begin with. People sometimes assume those who long-term solo travel have to be brave or oozing with confidence, but that is not the case. People with all sorts of personality traits, backgrounds, and nationalities start long-term solo travel. Each of you will have your own reasons as to why and will want your own gains. However, everybody who starts needs to be willing to learn, grow, keep an open mind, and become adaptive.
Solo travel fears & concerns
Q: I really want to just pack my bags and go, but l just make excuses not to like a mental block. How can I overcome this?
Sounds remarkably familiar. The first step is the hardest one for everybody. You sound like you are at the point where you need to stop thinking about it and just do it. You are in danger of overthinking it and will potentially never go through with it.
Q: What happens if I get lost while long-term solo traveling?
Getting lost is half the fun and more than likely to happen in one way or another. If you get lost, don’t fear it, embrace it and see where the journey leads. There are many who travel alone to embark on journeys with the sole purpose of getting lost.
Long term solo travel (personal safety concerns
Q: Is long-term solo traveling safe?
For the most part, yes, it is, but you need to be responsible for yourself and your belongings, use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Let’s not kid anybody here, nowhere in the world is 100% safe, not even your own country. However, you can keep yourself safe in virtually every country in the world.
Q: I don’t want to get targeted, how do I blend in traveling alone?
The golden rule to traveling alone is to always act like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t. Be casual and don’t look or act like a wide-eyed tourist. If you do, you will stick out like a sore thumb and an easy target. As mentioned before, try and blend in as best you can.
Loneliness/mental & physical health
Q: Doesn’t traveling alone long-term mean being lonely all the time?
There will be periods you get lonely but it will not be constant. You will not get lonely because you’re solo traveling though. Loneliness can hit you at any point, with or without warning. As a long-term solo traveler, you need to be prepared for it but also to realize it will pass.
Q: Sounds stupid but I guess I have to like my own company as a long-term solo traveler?
No, not stupid at all. While getting along with yourself does help, traveling alone long-term can be as much about your internal journey as well as the external one. Many first-time solo travelers do it in the first place because they want to get to know themselves better
Q: I’ve heard people say traveling alone life changing and alters your entire perception of life – how does it?
Because of all the new exposures you come into contact with and experience; the new cultures, environments, new ways of thinking, and ideologies. Being a long-term traveler, submerged in it changes your perspective and opens your mind in more ways than you can believe.
Q: Mentally, what freedom does long-term solo travel give you?
Long-term solo traveling can become mentally freeing as well as physically for a number of reasons and factors being erased from your life. As your journey goes on, you can strip away weights, shackles, and break down invisible prisons that may have previously kept you down.
Meeting people/making friends
Q: Will I meet people or make friends while traveling alone for long periods?
From the moment you start your journey, opportunities will be plentiful to meet people and make friends; it will be your decision whether you act on them or not. Unless you are totally off the grid, people are always going to be around you.
Q: How do long-term solo travelers make friends?
Making friends is as easy or as hard as you make it, sometimes the onus will be on you to make the first move. The easiest way is to make yourself approachable. Be friendly, smile, be willing to simply say hi to strangers. People think it’s a daunting process to make friends while traveling but it really is not. In fact, you are more inclined and open to make friends as a solo traveler than you might think.
Funding long term travel
Q: I would love to long-term solo travel but there’s no way I can afford it. Isn’t traveling the world expensive?
The automatic response at the mere suggestion of traveling is to think it’s unaffordable. Yes, of course, money is needed to start with, but depending on your mentality, desire to travel, and if you can live on a tight budget, it’s as cheap or expensive as you make it
Q: How do I budget for traveling alone if I have no end date?
If you’re looking to solo travel indefinitely, budgeting isn’t a case of just saving a set amount of money for your trip. In all likeliness, you’ll be taking whatever you have with you, but research is key for your first few trips
Q: Is it true that costs will be more expensive as a solo traveler?
Unfortunately, sometimes it can be, but you need to be smart and use common sense, otherwise, you can be left with a hole burning in your pocket. If you do not pay attention to prices and just accept the first prices when there is a chance for cheaper, you are only cheating and doing yourself a disservice.
Planning for long term solo travel
Q: How do I plan a long-term solo travel trip?
By doing the correct research, not paying too much attention to ‘fluffed up’ Instagram posts, so called influencer or pretty blog posts, dig a little deeper, and seek advice from those that do it. While you start doing your planning and research, you may well get influenced by pictures you see on social media and the travel articles you read. Always keep in mind the possibility of pictures not looking like they do in reality and also the majority of blogs and articles are written for short-term trips.
Q: How much should I pre-plan and book as opposed to winging it as a long-term solo traveler?
The key is to research well but keep your plans as lucid as possible! There is a huge difference between researching well, having the knowledge of everything you need to, over-planning, and having crammed itineraries! Plans are more than likely to change just as much as the wind when long-term traveling.
Q: Do I have to pick between an organized tour and traveling independently for the duration of my travels?
No, you have the freedom to choose as your trip goes on and you can choose to mix it up. Logistics and practicality are going to play a part. No matter how experienced you get, you are not going to be an expert at everything. There are going to be times you will have to do organized tours or trips for certain activities and times where it’s much more worthwhile to do it independently.
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Q: Are there countries better equipped or suited for traveling alone than others?
Yes, there are countries and regions that are better equipped and more popular for solo travelers than others, they are easy to navigate, used to tourism, and have better infrastructures which make it easier to travel. Some countries around the world rely heavily on tourism to drive their economy and practically roll out the red carpet for tourists.
Q: Will I face language and communication problems when traveling alone
Yes, there is a chance of facing language problems, even in popular countries away from tourist zones. Once you wander off a little in local areas you may be faced with it. However don’t worry there are plenty of ways to communicate even if you don’t speak the language fluently.
Q: I’ve never been exposed to different cultures; will I get a culture shock?
Quite possibly, yes, culture shock can hit you, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it before. There is a chance that because it’s so abnormal to you, your brain will reject it, so it can take some adjusting to. You will have to keep an open mind and when faced with things you’re not used to, do not be quick to judge. Give yourself time to adjust and take things in.
Transport options when traveling alone
Q: Is using public transport safe while traveling alone?
Yes, for the most part, but you have to use common sense and have your wits about you. There will be a chance of pickpockets lurking just like in any other country, including yours. Just like everything to do with safety, it’s your responsibility to keep your belongings safe.
Q: What are overnight buses/sleeper trains like, do I have to take them?
Great in principle and theory but can be the bane of your traveling life. Can be painful and arduous but sometimes a necessity for long-term travelers. It is very doubtful there is a single traveler who will say they love overnight buses or sleeper trains.
Q: What if I just want to hire or buy my own vehicle, how do I do that?
As long as you have an international driver’s license, are comfortable driving in foreign countries, and feel you can afford it, there is nothing stopping you. With the right research, you can find yourself a bargain. It’s one of the best feelings when traveling alone.
Accommodation options when traveling alone
Q: What is Couchsurfing and is it safe and reliable?
Not as popular as it once used to be. You will need to do your due diligence into hosts and check that they’re reliable, do not have ulterior motives, and not notorious for cancelling at the last minute. However, if you do find a good host, it can turn into an incredible experience, especially if they welcome you in with their friends and family. You can end up making amazing friends for life.
Q: What if I just want to go camping or sleep in my campervan? Can I just pitch up anywhere and is it safe?
Camping and sleeping under the stars in unique and picturesque locations is amazing but you have to use your common sense. Although it may be tempting to just pitch your tent somewhere you like, you need to know your surroundings, and the elements around you.
Hostels for long term travelers
What are backpacker hostels really like and are they all the same?
Hostels are budget accommodation, but people have too many misconceptions about them. There are different types and they can, in fact, be integral to your trip and much more than just a place to sleep. Your perception of a hostel can change from the moment you walk in!
Q: What can I expect from my hostel experience?
Your hostel experience can be the cornerstone of your travel life, but that depends on how you approach it—with an open or closed mind. There are those of you who will not take to hostel life, you will not like certain things that go on within them and will remain close-minded and unwilling to adapt. Some of you will expect hotel quality and moan about every little thing that doesn’t work or if something isn’t to your standard.
Q: What tips are there for booking individual tours/excursions/trips?
Do not just take the first price offered, make sure the company is reliable and trustworthy and get your money’s worth, but that does not necessarily mean the cheapest option.
Q: What if I want to go off the beaten track, I don’t want to do the touristy things, I want to see parts of the country others don’t—is it safe to do so?
Yes, by all means, go for it. Many long-term travelers prefer to go off the beaten track, but take the right precautions, have an idea of what you are doing. Be aware of your surroundings and use your common sense. The longer you travel, the more you can start having a disdain for touristy and popular places.
Q: What are the most important things a long-term solo traveler needs to possess?
Your starting point does not matter. You can be from any background, poor or rich, naïve, or confident. Be any type of personality, but along the way, you need to develop and possess some fundamentals.
Q: Can I get fed up and bored of long-term solo traveling or just traveling in general?
Yes, it can happen at some point along your journey. It will hit people at different points depending on their personality and mental fatigue. Like with feeling homesick and lonely at different points, you will hit slumps, get bored, and generally feel fed up with things
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