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5 THINGS I LEARNT TRAVELING ALONE

1. You are never alone

If I ever wanted some peace and quiet, it was surprisingly difficult to find. Solo travelling tends to attract others – whether solo themselves or in a group. I still don’t know whether it’s because people feel sorry for me, or whether they just want to hear a new story – but regardless – it was thrilling meeting new people and creating new memories. There are unaccompanied travelers wherever you go – something I didn’t realise until I went solo myself. I found that we immediately formed a bond. They were, like myself – confident, unafraid, eager to explore and willing to try new things. And if they weren’t like that already, they were using travel to push themselves. However, if you ever want some time to yourself – good luck! Get out of the hostel, book a hotel and maybe then you can relax in peace.

2. You can make a best friend for life within hours and then never see them again

Backpackers seem to form an instant bond when meeting for the first time. I don’t know whether it’s the travel high, or whether it is because people are eager to meet new friends. But most backpackers have a positive mentality and believe that traveling is good for the soul. It makes it a lot easier to connect with people. I met so many interesting people during my travels – but reality is, I won’t ever see most of them again. Other backpackers might relate to having to conduct a ‘facebook cleanup’ and sadly delete many of the people you’ve met along the way that realistically you won’t see again. Sad but true.

3. Be ready to drink – always

I have noticed that hostels are rated on their ‘backpacker vibe’. I never really understood what this meant, assuming it was referring to atmosphere. I have since learnt that it means “party rating” – how drunk are majority of the guests most nights of the week? Sure – I want to meet people, and I often do, however I can’t drink every night. In many places though – I did. It was the social thing to do, whether I felt like it or not. People would question if you were holding water and not a beer. I even found myself lying to avoid the confrontation – “ah not feeling well today”, or “I’ll have one later”. I guess it would be weird asking my new found friends out to have a pot of tea, but it fascinated me that alcohol seemed to be the glue in some of the relationships I built.

4. Stereotypes are not always true

I will be honest and admit that during my trip, I have met the stereotypical American traveler who asks the stupid question, or the loud drunk group of Australians who can be heard from the next street – however I have also been lucky enough to realise that backpackers in particular all share a common goal – to learn something new. And in doing so, become more accepting and individual. Stereotypes exist, but are not always true so don’t judge a book by it’s cover (it’s funner that way!).

5. People can surprise you

I can be naive when it comes to trusting others. I trust too easily. But when backpacking in hostels, you often don’t have a choice. Many places I stayed in didn’t offer lockers. Where are people to keep their valuables? After travelling for the past 10 months, and sharing a room with 14 other strangers most of the time – I never had a single thing stolen. More than that, I had strangers offering me medication when I was sick, a spare towel when I lost mine, jackets when I was cold and money when I left mine in another bag. It touched me so much that it encouraged me to do more spontaneously generous things for strangers. People can surprise you!

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