A lot of people have a list of things to do before they die.
For some, it includes traveling solo. Unfortunately, for some people, that item will always remain unchecked.
Why? They could tell you: I don’t have any money. I’m too lazy to make plans for myself. I don’t have the time to travel. I’m afraid to travel solo.
Yes, the world is full of excuses that we can use to justify our decision to stay where we are. I’ve used some of them too. I remember the crystal merchant’s reply to Santiago when the latter asked him in The Alchemist why he was not pushing through with his pilgrimage to Mecca. The merchant said: I’m afraid that if my dream is realized, I’ll have no reason to go on living.
For him, then, it’s better to have the dream than fulfill it. He’s afraid of the hole it will leave in his life if it’s gone.
I took a leap of faith by traveling alone when I was 11. I was a bit worried, yes, but the excitement was stronger! I was around three years old though, when I first became conscious of how addicting it can be to be on the road.
Every time my parents took me on their trips, I felt so happy, so lucky to be chosen to go. Through those early trips, I realized that anything is possible, including, yes, backpacking in Europe.
So how do you take the leap of faith and travel solo? How do you take that first step off the solid ground that you’ve always been loathe to leave by yourself?
Want it hard enough, and it will happen! When you want something hard enough, you’re more open to possibilities, more aware of opportunities that can help you get it. The Secret and The Alchemist are saying the same thing; the desire has to come from you first—get rid of all the fears that are holding you back. If you really want it, you can find ways to get it. Otherwise, all you’ll have are excuses.
Do something to address your limitations. You don’t have money to travel? I didn’t too. As a non-profit employee, I didn’t earn much. No matter how you look at it, traveling costs money, no matter what some people may tell you otherwise.
You need to eat, to pay for your transportation and the entrance fees to museums and such. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be a millionaire to be able to travel alone.
I saved like crazy for years, setting aside 20-30 percent of my monthly salary into my travel fund. I looked for other ways to earn: editing papers, writing website content, monetizing my blogs, among other things.
My earnings from those all went to my bank account. I skipped on going to the cinemas or eating in restaurants. I bought clothes on sale. I used my phones till they broke down or got lost, uncaring about the latest gadgets (except for my Kindle!) that would surely take a big slice off my monthly salary.
I wanted desperately to travel, so I found ways to address my financial limitations.
Choose your destinations well. One way of addressing budget challenges is also to choose your destination well. For us in Asia, for example, the other Asian countries are pretty cheap; I only had $200 when I went to Saigon, but I was already a millionaire there.
You can have interaction with locals and free accommodation through Couchsurfing too, so you can really save a lot! And of course, nothing beats traveling in your country first.
Prepare for your trip in advance. I prepared for my backpacking trip in Europe for years, buffing up my savings, building my skills, and building my network in Couchsurfing. I wanted to make sure that I will travel cheaply in Europe.
I do regret it a little bit that I waited until now to take this trip. I should have done this years ago!
At least, though, I am doing it now. I am fulfilling that dream and unlike the crystal merchant, I’m not afraid that it will leave a hole in my life. I’ll just replace it with something else (update as of February 2015: That something else is to backpack in South America for 2 years starting July 2015!).
Living is constantly challenging yourself, be it through travel or some other goals, and I’m glad that traveling solo has made me what I am today.
How about you? Will you take a leap of faith and travel alone?
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Hi! I love your blog! I’m planning my 1st solo trip on my birth month. Plan ko sana sa Tagaytay. Have u tried it there? Thanks!
Hi Barbara! Yes I’d been there and hiked up to the crater. 🙂 Have fun and safe travels!
hi aleah, looking forward on your south america trip 🙂
i’m just starting travelling solo 🙂
Thanks, Rochelle. Hope you’ll keep on following my blog, and my travels. 🙂
Apparently, I joined your bandwagon, Aleah.
Happy solitary wandering to us!
Welcome to the club, Gelo!
I saw that you mentioned building a network on couchsurfing. I am a new solo traveler and was wondering how do I start that?
Sorry for the very late reply! Just join your local CS group. They always have meet-ups, so when you meet people there, you give each other references. That can help in establishing your bona fides when it’s time for you to surf.
I’m 32, have always loved travelling but just started travelling solo 3days ago. And I have another trip 2days from now to Legazpi-Naga-Caramoan. Alone. I am so excited. I know I will be able to go to my dream destinations, South Korea, Japan, and backpacking in Europe. Soon! Will explore the rest of your blog in the next few days 🙂
Sorry for the late reply, Rosie. Hope you enjoyed reading my blog!
@ Yanji: Solo travel can be addicting! Some friends of mine who have also started traveling solo have told me they are now scheduling more and more trips by themselves. It’s so liberating, isn’t it? Cheers, and safe travels!
I just had my first solo travel to Korea for a week last March 2013! and though it’s kinda lonesome to travel alone, i did enjoy it as i can make my own itinerary without having to consult the people ur travelling with. i can do quick decision on where to go next!^^ I’ll be travelling solo again this month to Bangkok for 3 days! (though i’ll be meeting some friends there)
Cheers to solo travelers!^^
@ Gelo: Go go go! Thailand is great to backpack solo in. Sana matuloy!
@ Albin: Loved those two books! Am glad you enjoyed them too. Solo travelers FTW! 😀
I enjoyed reading those two books (well I just watched The Secret) as well! Most of the time people would wonder why one travels solo and usually identify that someone as problematic or running away from something. They watch way too many teleseryes in my opinion.
Been aloof almost my whole life solo traveling gives us a chance to introspect and become better persons in the process.
Big Cheers for Solo Travel!
I would like to take a leap of faith and would probably travel solo by next year…I was thinking of going to Thailand..Thank you for your blog and Wish me luck ^_^
@ Erl: Thanks for the encouragement, Erl. I hope someday you’ll find the chance to follow your desire without going against your parents’ wishes. It’s very unselfish of you to think of them first, and I commend you for that!
I can travel solo! i believe i am a traveler and a wanderer in my past life.
I can but i WON’T do it.
not now. i am a girl. i did all the explaining to parents on how i wanted to accomplish my planned trip. They never understand me. They think of safety and they see traveling to far places alone is risky.
I have tried going home very late and they were up all night waiting for me.
Even if i can and it’s life’s greatest dream, i would risk it just to see my parents happy and secured because i am in their side. after all, in their whole life, they did not think of their happiness as parents, they both worked hard for us, their children.
For those who has the opportunity to travel, happy trip! enjoy! and be one with universe! i pray for the best to the solo backpackers.
@ George: I absolutely can relate. I find it easier to travel by myself than with others. That said, I would have to learn how to travel with company, so I’ll try doing that soon 🙂
Great post! The problem is people think travelling solo is a big deal, and it is, but it is also a lot easier than they think. Mainly the desire to have company is stronger than the desire to go it alone. To be honest I’m just selfish and a commitophobe. I need to be alone
@ Bailey: Yeah one can get very comfortable traveling alone. That’s why I want to break out of my comfort zone this year and start traveling with someone else again, aside from my solo trips.
@ Ted: My current one is 4 years old. Am considering buying an old iPhone though, if only for the Google Maps app haha
These are some great tips and great inspiration for travel. I too always seem to have a phone that was cool about five years ago.
I have just started traveling solo, and it is fast becoming my favorite way to go! Sure, it gets lonely, but really, that’s the only negative- if you can even consider it negative. I am interested to find out how I will fare once I start traveling with other people again!
@ The Photoblogger: Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It scares a lot of people 🙂
Nice advice there but I’ll be really honest and say that travelling solo scares the hell out of me.
@ Bethany: I agree 100% with your statement about traveling with your family. Yeah, it’s a holiday, a vacation. You’re more careful, and your itinerary is more well thought out. It’s good too, but I prefer solo travel. 🙂
@ Joann: Way to go! Let us know when you do, and how your experience was.
@ Jasmine: Italy is WONDERFUL. I really hope I can go back, especially to Toscana!
I had previously travelled solo before for business trips and interstate trips. But, it was the first time I travelled solo in Italy for 3 weeks over Christmas/New Year. I loved it!
Just want you to know that you’re an inspiration. I’m planning to travel solo this year 😀
I travelled solo around Europe 4 years ago and had the time of my life, I recommend everyone tries it. Going on vacation with friends and family is a holiday, while travelling solo is an adventure.
@ Cha: Very true. Anyone can travel, as long as they really want to!
@ Lagalag: Thank you, blush naman ako hehe Do drop by my blog again!
I thought I’ve read the best until I got stuck on this very inspiring entry of yours. The next thing I done after reading it is to bookmark it. I will read it again and again because it motivates me. Thanks for sharing.
I agree with you Aleah you don’t need to be a millionaire to travel the world. This is one of the reason I created a blog back in 2009. To convey to everyone that even if you’re not a millionaire you can still travel. It is just a matter of making it your priority and of course it also depend on your health.
@ Jaisingh: Thanks thanks. Do drop by again!
@ Peter: Best way to start traveling is to travel in your country 🙂 Congrats for deciding to take that leap of faith!
I’ll be leaving my comfort zone after teaching for the last sixteen years. Although it will initially be limited to the Pearl of the Orient for now, I aim to go around to other countries in the future as well.
I’m hoping that I can do what you and a lot of other travel bloggers are doing right now.
your blog is inspiring and amazing
keep it up
@ Reiza: Thanks thanks! Good luck with the compilation!
@ Elise: I just use a timer when taking a pic of myself during my trip. The focus is not so good though 🙁 I also ask other people to take my picture. What I do is identify the solo traveler or the travelers in pairs. Then I offer to take their picture. They’ll be likely to say yes when I ask them to take mine as well 🙂 Siem Reap is love! Gotta write my experiences there before I forget them hehe
I did my semi-solo trip last Dec (2011) for 2 weeks. It’s semi-solo because I travelled to HK & Taiwan, where I sometimes met up with my local friends there. Moreover both places are Chinese places (I’m from Singapore, Chinese). However, I did all the sight-seeing alone.
I was a little aprenhensive about traveling alone. How do I take photo when I travel alone? I lugged along a mini-tripod. However, I found a new best friend – my iPhone… now I’m a camera-whore… sometime totally new to me.
My next solo trip will be to Saigon… agree with you that choosing a destination for budget travelling is important. I’m already planning my 2013 March holiday weekend trip to Siem Reap… another destination that is really economical too.
Like you, my real big one will be Europe. but that will have to wait until I’m in between jobs, where I have the luxury of time (several months) to explore Europe to my heart’s content.
Aleah, you are such an inspiration to everyone (especially women) out there who wants to see the world, but are afraid to go out of their comfort zones. Keep on spreading the travel bug! 🙂
@ Arathi: Some people see my scrimping as a sacrifice. Actually it’s not for me. It’s just a matter of priority 🙂
@ Simurgh: There are lots more I can write about it. hehe
I do travel solo too!!!
and you just gave an idea on how to prepare for travels abroad..
Take the leap as we say it!
What you said here is so true. That’s exactly how I have been traveling throughout my uni years here in Europe as well. Everything on a budget, scrimp and save on what I have so that I can see the world.
Traveling is an addiction, but it is also one of the most enriching things life has to offer to us!
Kudos to you for embarking on your backpacking trip! xx