There are several ways to savor the great outdoors, but none can move your soul as much as a solo trip. The peace and tranquility make you more aware of your surroundings. The challenge of keeping yourself safe in anew environment keeps your mind focused. The break from everyday life rejuvenates you, making you feel more secure, peaceful and balanced when you get back to “real life”
We see these trips in movies, and most portray them as group activities. We see a group of friends surrounding a fire roasting marshmallows,regaling themselves with fun tales so many times that we believe it is only a group thing. What happens when you want to go alone? It seems pretty daunting from the comfort of your home.
The freedom of solo trips has a catch: nature comes with no safety nets. There is no room for error in planning and taking safety precautions. Even the most experienced backpackers can forget a thing or two.Provided it is not an essential, your trip won’t feel the pinch.
This article is for the first time solo traveller who doesn’t know what to expect and what to bring to be completely prepared. But first, if you are not quite convinced you need a solo trip, the following benefits will have you looking at solo trips at an entirely different light.
Benefits of travelling solo
Here are the reasons you should ditch your friends on your next trip and go at it alone.
You learn new skills
When there are other people involved, there is usually someone in the group who is the best at setting up the tent, lighting the fire,and even telling direction. When you are alone, you are forced to take the initiative to learn new skills such as chopping wood and setting up your own tent. Of course, you have to learn these skills before your trip, but being at it alone will hone your skills.
You build confidence
Although half of the time during your first trip might be spent messing things up and trying to fix them, there is a satisfaction that comes with doing things all by your own.
You get the freedom to travel more
With group trips, you have to coordinate schedules weeks in advance. You can spend a whole year running around in circles trying to catch a time when everybody is free. Solo trips allow you to be as spontaneous as can be.
You feel much more connected to the nature
The break from everyday life is a chance to connect. Group trips allow you to connect with others through late-night chats and group-effort meals among others. When solo, these distractions are kept at a minimum, enabling you to feel a deeper connection to nature. Everything will then be felt with heightened senses.
Disagreements, noises and group activities generally characterize the “real life” we are all trying to escape using these trips. As such, solo trips are the best option to escape stress.
Tips for Solo Travelers
For a successful solo travel, you should give the following tips special consideration.
Packing is in arguably the most important step in solo traveling. Every inclusion and exclusion could make or break your trip so first timers should put a lot of detail on this. Remember you are only packing items for yourself so you should be realistic.
Every additional gear you carry slows you down and lengthens the time on the trail. As such, you should keep the gear to the barest essentials. The most important essentials are:
- Tents – A one-man tent will save you lots of space.
- First aid kit – For cuts and bruises.
- Sleeping bag – Use down sleeping bags as they are lighter.
- Backpack chair – Backpack chairs are often overlooked. They have a number of features and functions that make them uniquely equipped for solo travels. They go a long way in making the trip relaxing.
- Multi-tool knife
All solo travelers agree that almost all food tastes amazing, even that which you wouldn’t dare eat at home. However, that is no excuse to not plan what you will eat.
Do not forget to carry a lightweight stove and a pot to cook your food. Keep in mind that you are going to want to minimize cooking and prepping time. That said, you should bring snacks, dried fruit, nuts, and boil-in-the-bag type of meals. Don’t forget a water bottle and an insulated flask for cold nights.
Leave a copy of your travel plans before you leave.
Although travelling alone is a way of escaping from it all,it is important to let someone know where you will be, at what times. It will give your loved ones peace of mind, and give them a way of reaching you if the need arises.
Also, if you get stranded somewhere, they will know where to look.
Research your destination
The area you plan on going depends on what your intention is. If it is just a routine thing, then almost anywhere can do. If the solo trip is for meditation and self reflection, then you should choose a place far from civilization and with breathtaking and inspiring sites.
To get things right the first time, you should do a research of the area to see what it has to offer. You should also check if there are records of past incidents in the area to be assured of your safety. The area should have an easy way of contacting people if need be.
Check weather forecast
Although you can go in any kind of weather, it is recommended to know what awaits you to be fully prepared. There are a number of sites that offer forecasts up to a week in advance. Keep checking the forecast until the end of your trip.
If you know there will be rain, you will remember to bring your waterproofing spray for your shoes to keep your feet from water and prevent infections. You will also bring a water proof shelter.
Don’t arrive late
This is the last thing you would want to do. The cover of darkness has a way of making us feel disoriented. Also, setting up the equipment by yourself when you can’t see what you are doing well is a poor way to start your solo trip.
If you arrive with a couple of hours to save before dark, you will have enough time to set up for a better solo-camping experience.
Set up your shelter properly
Your shelter/tent should be well set up to avoid such situations as waking up to a caved in tent, or everything falling apart during a downpour. You can ensure this by test-driving all your equipment at home before embarking. If you still aren’t getting things right by yourself, ask for additional help while there are still people.
Learn to keep calm
The biggest impediment to solo travel is usually in the mind. What do you expect out there? What if there are wild animals? These thoughts make our imaginations run wild the moment we hear a howl, or a rustling of leaves.
You should remain rational and calm by letting it sink in that these sounds are just normal.
Pack an emergency device
Personal safety is of utmost concern. As such, you should pack an emergency device such as a satellite phone, or a personal locator if something goes wrong.
For added safety, you should also carry a list of numbers to be contacted in case of an emergency. This list should also contain your personal information, apart from any other important numbers.
Pack some form of entertainment.
After exhausting the available solo activities you will,more often that not, find yourself lacking something to do. To prevent these moments, don’t forget to pack something to pass time with – something like as udoku book, a novel, or movies loaded on a phone.
Some travelers, however, do not advocate for carrying any form of entertainment to a solo trip. According to them, solo trips are a chance for you to take in the surroundings and rediscover yourself away from distractions. They look at books as an impediment to the benefits of solo trips.
The approach you choose to take depends on what your solo trip is for, if it is for meditation and self reflection, then don’t park the distractions. If it is just to get away then, by all means, carry as much distractions as you can.
Do not forget a map
One tree can resemble the next and the mainland can resemble the island. Not unless you have photographic memory, don’t start your journey without a map. A quick glance can keep you at ease knowing you won’t get lost.
Don’t take silly risks
While the idea might be to open up yourself to new adventures and experiences during your solo trip, keep in mind there is no one to rescue you in times of need. As such, you should stay away from risky activities, especially if you have never engaged in them before.
Solo travels can be refreshing and inspiring. Taking the step back from constant interaction with family and friends will allow you to rediscover yourself and get a totally new view on life. It is a shame most people think it is reserved for expert campers.
This guide has illustrated that it is possible not with standing your experience level. Proper planning is what determines its success. All the best in your upcoming solo trip!