Solo Travel on a Budget: Exploring the World for Under $2,000

Spread the love

Planning Your Budget Adventure

Decide how much you can afford to spend daily, then research your chosen country to find out what you are likely to spend. Take into account food, accommodation, transport, and spending money. This will give you a rough idea of how much your trip should cost. However, it is wise to budget for around 20% extra as there are always unforeseen expenses (e.g. emergency travel, a souvenir, an expensive internal flight).

Setting a Realistic Budget

Creating a realistic travel budget is the first and most essential step in planning your adventure. A budget that is too low will have you feeling deprived and unsatisfied, while a budget that is too high can leave you spending more money than necessary. To begin creating a budget, calculate the number of weeks you will be traveling for and the number of months that you will need to save for. Take into account any pre-trip expenses such as vaccinations or travel gear. Next, consider where it is that you will be traveling to. Western countries tend to cost much more than Eastern countries. Consider the cost of living in your own country and compare it to the place that you are considering traveling to. Think about what you would normally spend on a daily basis in your own country and work from there. It is important to be realistic here considering your travel style. If you are someone who enjoys nightlife and fine dining, you cannot expect to survive a day in Paris on 40 euros. Multiply your daily spending within your own country by the cost of living in the country of your choice and go from there. Another helpful tool in estimating daily expenses for individual countries is travel guide books such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Time Out. These can be purchased at your local bookstore, borrowed from a library or in some cases, viewed online for free. These books provide a general price range for different items in each country and can be very useful for comparing the cost of different destinations. I also recommend talking to other travelers. Many travel forums have threads pertaining to individual countries and are great for obtaining first-hand advice. Many people have webpages and blogs that can be found through Google searches. These can be very insightful as to the cost of living in a specific destination and often times offer a more personal glimpse into things. Remember to be realistic in all of your estimations. It is better to over budget and end up with extra money at the end of your trip.

Researching Affordable Destinations

There are definitely countries around the world you might want to avoid mainly because they are too expensive. However, there are just as many countries that are not only affordable, but will also provide you with an amazing experience. Europe tends to be one of the more expensive continents especially for us Americans who have to fly there. However, there are countless cheap destinations in Eastern Europe that won’t break your budget. Asia can be great for your wallet too with many cheap destinations in Southeast Asia. The Americas and Africa also have many cheap destinations. Your best resource for finding out where to go is the internet and other travelers. If you know someone who has been to the region you are interested in, pick their brain for information. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Travel Forum is also a great tool. If you ask a specific question, you are likely to get a response from someone who has been in your exact situation. And of course, a Google search can provide you with hundreds of personal travel blogs written by other travelers.

Finding Cheap Flights and Accommodation

La fase fondamentale per programmare un viaggio in solitaria a buon prezzo è proprio la ricerca del volo e dell’affitto in loco. La procedura da seguire è un po’ macchinosa e richiede tempo, ma la premessa è che con un minimo di dimestichezza con il computer e confidenza con la lingua inglese si possono ottenere buoni risultati. Una premessa fondamentale sugli sconti: i siti web che offrono servizi aerei e turistici spesso riservano ai prenotanti via internet offerte speciali o prezzi ribassati. Inoltre capita spesso che i prezzi scendano intorno a Natale o a ferragosto per incentivare le prenotazioni. In questi casi particolari conviene tenere d’occhio la situazione. Un buon motore di ricerca per i voli è il sito [Link], che confronta i preventivi di voli di molte compagnie aeree e siti web di agenzie di viaggio online, aiutandoci così a trovare la soluzione più economica. Molto utile è la funzione “mese più economico” che consente di visualizzare in una tabella i prezzi dei voli per ogni giorno di un mese e trovare così le date più convenienti. Bisogna sempre confrontare le tariffe direttamente presso la compagnia aerea prescelta, in quanto talvolta può capitare che il prezzo sia inferiore a quello riscontrato sul modulo online della stessa. In generale è meglio prenotare il volo con tempistiche che vanno dalle 6 alle 8 settimane prima della data di partenza. Ovviamente i periodi di saldi (gennaio e luglio) permettono di trovare prezzi più bassi anche con largo anticipo. Per la ricerca dell’alloggio si deve innanzitutto avere un’idea precisa sul periodo del soggiorno e sulla zona o città in cui si desidera alloggiare. Una volta definite queste cose si possono consultare vari siti di prenotazioni per bed and breakfast, ostelli o appartamenti, confrontando i prezzi e le posizioni, e chiudere la ricerca con una prenotazione cancellabile senza penali su un sito che non richieda il pagamento anticipato.

Saving Money on Transportation and Local Expenses

We all have to sleep; it’s just a matter of where. Memorable experiences can be had from anything ranging from a 5 star hotel to a local’s couch. If you are an outgoing and sociable individual, take a look at [Link] It is a great way to make a new friend and have a truly authentic local experience. It’s also a great way to get some insider information on the best cheap eats and cool local events. Hostels have long since shed their seedy image, and they are often the best option for budget travelers. A bed may cost anywhere from $5-$25. It’s a great place to meet other travelers and split costs. If you are planning on staying in an area for a while, consider renting a room or an apartment. This is usually quite cost effective, and you can save money by going to local markets and cooking for yourself. Remember to scope out the room or property before committing to it. A deposit is usually required, and this can sometimes turn into a scam.

When getting around locally, walking is the best way to take in the sights, sounds, and culture of the area. It is also great exercise. However, if you are not keen on walking, make sure to know the price before getting in a taxi. Often times tourists are charged an increased rate. Ask a local or hotel reception what you should expect to pay. Public transportation is usually your best option. It’s quite a cultural experience in itself. Try to avoid renting a car and paying for petrol, especially if you are in a foreign country. In some areas, hiring a motorbike is very cheap and a convenient way to get around. Ferries can also be a scenic and cost effective means of transportation to neighboring towns or countries.

Research! It is imperative to research the transportation options in and around town, to and from neighboring cities, states, or countries. This way you can weigh out all options prior to committing to the one that’s most expensive. Sometimes it tends to be more expensive to get to a small town in a country than the country itself. Make sure you are looking at arrival and departure cities if you are booking flights, and not just the price to and from point A and B.

Maximizing Your Experiences without Breaking the Bank

Visit local markets. These can provide an interesting window into the everyday life of local people. They often sell food cheaply and can be a good place to try some local cuisine. If one haggles a bit, it’s often possible to buy a few high-quality ingredients and prepare a meal for oneself at a much lower cost than eating out. Oftentimes, markets or grocery stores will be the best place to buy cheap bottled water, which can save a traveler a significant amount over purchasing it from kiosks or vendors over the duration of the day.

In nearly every city and town, it’s possible to find free walking tours. These are a great way to see the sights and learn some history about a location without incurring the high cost of a guided tour. The guides are often very knowledgeable, and taking a tour can clue a traveler into places and things he would not have found otherwise. In most cases, all it will cost is a tip for the guide at the end of the tour.

Embracing free and low-cost activities While it may sound like a given, the best way to save money while traveling is to engage in activities that are free or do not come at a high cost to the traveler. Luckily, there are many ways to go about doing this. Parks are abundant and can provide a traveler with hours of amusement, as well as a tranquil place to eat a meal or read a book. They are a prime spot for people-watching and offer a great window into the local culture. If a traveler is looking to spend some time on a beach, try to find one that is accessible by foot or public transportation. While a vacation at a remote private beach sounds tempting, the cost of getting there can be a real budget buster.

Embracing Free and Low-Cost Activities

A great place to start is to find out what free activities might be going on in nearby cities around the time of your visit. For example, during my trip there were free community music and dance workshops being offered in a park outside of a music conservatory in Rennes, France. I was able to participate because I brought my guitar, and that led to meeting the people who would later help me get a concert and music practice space at the conservatory. These sorts of random connections and events can often lead to some of the most memorable experiences that you have while traveling. Keep your ear to the ground and don’t be afraid to veer a bit off your intended path if you hear about something interesting that you hadn’t planned for. This could be as simple as attending a local event or meeting up with some of the new friends that you’ve made at a later time. Any activity that involves local people and speaking the native language is also going to be a plus for your overall experience, and if you can manage to swing it, finding a short term volunteer opportunity might be just the ticket. More on volunteering in section 2.4.

Let’s face it: a budget of $2000 for a trip that could last four to five months is going to mean taking a financial hit no matter how you look at it. That being said, there is a distinct difference between unavoidable travel expenses and the money that you might spend on nights out, tours, souvenirs, or other activities that don’t play into the reasons why you’re taking a trip in the first place. By planning ahead and making some wiser choices, these discretionary activity expenses can be kept to a minimum and give you a far greater overall experience. Take the time to think about what you want to get out of your trip and tailor these ideas to suit your own personal interests and travel goals.

Taking Advantage of Discounts and Deals

Seek out discount cards: Find out what specific discounts or deals are available to travelers once you arrive in the country. Lonely Planet guidebooks usually have a section dedicated to this information. Often, museums will have one day a week or evening when admission is free. Many museums and cultural attractions all over the world offer discounts to students, so don’t forget to bring your student ID and always ask if a student discount is available. Sometimes, you can receive a discount if you show your ticket stub from an event or activity in the area. In Italy and some other countries, you can get a refund on the tax you pay on souvenirs if you know how to go about it. Haggling for a good price is an art form and skill that can be useful, especially in Asia. Often times, you can get a price that is 50% off the original asking price. Learn what the local price is for an item. Our most favorite method is simply to walk away. The vendor will lower their price to get your business.

Sampling Budget-Friendly Local Cuisine

When visiting foreign countries, one of the biggest expenses is eating out. Nevertheless, sampling local cuisine is one of the most rewarding experiences of traveling. With a little bit of effort and the right approach, it’s possible to find budget-friendly meals that allow you to taste the flavor of a country without breaking the bank. One of the best ways to maximize your food experience is to take advantage of supermarket and local market options. Eating gourmet sandwiches outside of Notre Dame might be an unforgettable experience, but consider making your own with freshly baked baguettes and high-quality ingredients bought from a nearby market. A similar option or taking advantage of deli and bakery goods can be found in nearly every country, and will allow you to put together delicious and authentic meals, while cutting out the restaurant price. Many travelers find that picnicking becomes a favorite meal option while on the road. Shopping from the supermarket and packing food from your packs tends to be much cheaper than eating out, and often provides a more relaxing meal option than many busy restaurants. This tactic is especially useful in countries like Japan, where finding a cheap restaurant that won’t leave you hungry can be a difficult task. Another option is to cook at your place of accommodation. Many hostels and guesthouses provide kitchen facilities, and some will even have a free food shelf where you can find ingredients left behind by previous travelers. Invite some people you’ve met from around the world, and offer to cook dishes from your home country in exchange for them cooking their local cuisine. This can be a fun and memorable cultural exchange that saves money while still allowing you to try different kinds of food. Lastly, when eating out, lunch is often the best option for a budget traveler wanting to sample local cuisine at a reasonable price. Many countries offer lunch specials, where the same dishes served at dinner can be found for a fraction of the cost. In some places, an informal light meal at a small restaurant or café is not much more expensive than self-catered food. Always look for places that are popular with the local people and be sure to ask hostel or guesthouse staff for their restaurant recommendations. In tourist areas, eating out tends to be significantly more expensive, and the quality of the food is often lower. By inquiring with local people, you can find restaurants that serve high-quality authentic cuisine. After all this, it’s important to note that frugality should not entail deprivation. Trying to cut food costs too much can leave a traveler dissatisfied with their culinary experiences. It’s okay to splurge every now and then, just try to make the most of those experiences when you do. In using the above tactics, the budget traveler will often find they saving money on food without thinking much of it, and generally their most memorable food experiences were not the ones in restaurants.

Engaging in Cultural Exchange and Volunteer Opportunities

Finally, there is the option of volunteer English teaching. This can vary from informal tutoring to full-time teaching in rural schools, and formal teaching generally requires a TEFL qualification. However, opportunities for informal tutoring are almost everywhere and can be arranged on the spot in many cases.

Volunteering is also a fulfilling way to allocate your time in a foreign country, offering an extra sense of purpose to your travels. There are volunteer opportunities in almost every country, some with specific skill or language requirements and others with no prerequisites at all. International work camps are conducted in many countries and are a great way to meet like-minded people from around the world, including other travelers, while contributing to an initiative for peace and intercultural understanding. Projects on work camps can include construction, renovation, teaching, and environmental work. The duration of work camps varies, usually two to three weeks, which can be incorporated into a longer period of solo travel. Costs for projects are all-inclusive and some even offer free days and side trips. Environmental and conservation projects are also widespread and can be a great way to experience the natural beauty of a country while contributing to the preservation of that environment. NGOs and international organizations sometimes recruit volunteers for initiatives in developing countries. This usually requires a longer time commitment, but costs can often be exempted or a small stipend will be provided.

Similar to accommodation and transportation, taking part in a cultural exchange or volunteer program can offer both a cost-effective means of touring a foreign country and a way of maintaining a budget. In addition to sightseeing and usual tourist activities, these types of programs offer an extended stay in the host country, often in the home of a host family, which is an amazing opportunity to be fully immersed in the local culture. By living with a host family, you are more likely to have access to a kitchen and therefore provide for yourself the cheapest means of eating, by cooking meals with your host family and introducing your own cuisine to them.

Exploring Nature and Outdoor Activities on a Budget

For those moments where you are interested in organized activities, look to see if the country you are visiting offers a working holiday visa. These visas usually allow you to work in the country for a short period of time to finance travels and are open to individuals under the age of 30 or 35. Australia and New Zealand both offer great working holiday programs and are hot spots for travelers interested in nature and outdoor activities. On such visas, you can find short-term employment in areas with stunning natural surroundings then utilize your time off to explore. I once spent a couple of weeks working at a small ski resort in New Zealand and was able to ski for free and explore nearby glaciers and rainforests on my days off.

When experiencing the true beauty of nature, cost should be the least of your worries. Whether hiking in the mountains or relaxing on a serene beach, outdoor activities generally do not require any money and often provide the most memorable experiences. After your simple outdoor meal, try a game of soccer with some local kids or organize a hike with other travelers you have met to explore the surrounding area. Many budget travelers have found that participation in local village life is one of the most inexpensive but effective means of experiencing the culture. In many countries, organized nature walks, river rafting trips, or mountain climbing expeditions can be real bargains. Often these activities can be found for a fraction of the price charged in North America and also provide a great opportunity to meet and spend time with both locals and other travelers.

Safety and Security Tips for Solo Travelers

The best thing you can do to keep safe while traveling alone is to thoroughly research your destination before you arrive. You should find out the areas that are more dodgy in town. You should learn if there are certain scams that are used on foreign tourists. You should also try to find out the social customs so you do not offend anyone by mistake. A great way to find information on these topics is by reading travel blogs, Trip Advisor, or using a travel forum. You will end up reading information from other travelers or locals, and their experiences will be invaluable. I usually cross-reference the information I have found from one of those sources with a different source to ensure that the information is accurate and not biased. Of course, another way to learn about your destination is asking friends or family that have been there.

When traveling alone, you must take more care than normal. Safety is a big concern when you are by yourself because you do not have anyone else to watch your back. This is not to say that you will be in more danger than 2 or more travelers, it just requires more caution and common sense. This section will explain how to research your destination, how to keep in contact with someone at all times, how to practice awareness, and a couple of tips in case something goes wrong.

Researching and Understanding the Destination

To get an overall understanding of the destination, utilize the wealth of information available online. Travel guides and travel reviews can be a valuable resource, providing an in-depth look at the area, accommodations, food, attractions, and much more. Both positive and negative reviews can be helpful, as they will give you an honest idea of what to expect and things to avoid. Websites and forums catered towards specific cities or countries can allow you to ask direct questions to residents and frequent travelers, and are often happy to provide advice. Don’t forget to check maps, weather, and local news as well. One of the best ways to truly understand a destination is to learn its language. Even learning just a few key phrases or words can greatly enhance your trip and interactions with the locals. There are a number of audio language courses available that can be used in the car or during workouts, an easy and efficient way to learn without dedicating time specifically to it.

Staying Connected and Informing Others of Your Plans

The importance of leaving behind specifics of your itinerary to family members, a trusted friend or co-worker is important particularly when visiting remote areas or participating in an activity such as a safari, mountaineering, etc. Consult the country’s travel information and look up the contact details of the nearest embassy or consulate for the country/s you will be visiting, entering or living as these places can assist you in time of need. Make sure you are familiar with their 24-hour emergency number. If staying in hotels, leave a copy of your passport in the hotel safe in case of loss. This will help in getting a replacement more quickly. Also, identification in some form can easily be attained through companies that make custom identification tags for your specific information with a toll-free number on the back. This way whoever has found your lost item can call the number and you can be contacted. A great safety precaution for women travelers is to get a whistle which can attract attention in a time of distress. Step 3 This makes it far easier to act as a precaution than an act of desperation. Email is a wonderful way to keep in touch with loved ones on the other side of the world and is much cheaper than long-distance calling, especially with a prepaid calling card (providing they are available for your home country). Make sure to contact friends and family at least every few days to let them know you are safe and well. This can be done by setting up a blog and entering in your experiences from internet cafes. Ekit offers a global phone rental service which allows you to be contactable with a phone number from the country you are visiting, no matter where you are, with cheaper call rates than your standard mobile phone (incoming calls are free in over 90 countries). This company also offers another SIM-based prepaid global phone service but the global number is much more practical.

Practicing Caution and Awareness in Unfamiliar Places

While sometimes some of the best experiences come from interaction with strangers, it is important to remember that there are risky people everywhere in the world. If you are getting a bad vibe from someone, politely remove yourself from the situation. Remember that you do not owe anyone anything.

In order to avoid making yourself an easy target, it is important to observe the people around you and try to imitate their behavior. If you are in a country where it is uncommon for women to be out alone, stick out less by seeing a more balanced ratio of men and women in your outings. Also, take notice of the small things such as the way you are dressing. Try to refrain from taking out flashy-looking objects such as a laptop or camera in quiet or less populated areas and keep an eye out for pickpockets in crowded places such as markets or fairs. This is not to say that you must suspect everyone, but being overly trusting can sometimes be a disadvantage.

It is not uncommon to be dazzled by the novelty of an unfamiliar place, causing one to let down their guard to potential risks. In order to stay safe while traveling, it is important to exercise caution and sensibility while still being able to enjoy the spontaneity of travel.

Utilizing Travel Insurance and Emergency Contacts

In the end, the most important aspect of safety when traveling is preparation. You cannot predict what will happen, so you should be ready for all possibilities, especially those that could cause serious harm. By abiding by the guidelines, you can be more assured that your travel experiences will be positive and fulfilling. Also, remember that travel insurance is a great way to give you peace of mind on vacation and lets you concentrate on the good stuff, like sipping on coconuts. The hardest times to travel can be when you are injured or sick, or if something happens to a family member back home. It’s during incidents such as these that having good travel insurance and knowing who to contact can be a real lifesaver. If you are injured overseas and require medical treatment, your travel insurance will sometimes even pay for you to have a friend or family member flown over from your home country to be with you during your time in the hospital, which can provide huge comfort and reassurance.

Making the Most of Your Solo Adventure

One of the most valuable benefits of traveling solo is the potential to connect with other travelers and locals without the influence of a companion. Remaining independent does not mean you cannot form meaningful relationships along the way. In many cases, solo travelers may find it easier to approach a group of strangers or individuals than other groups of travelers and make fast friends. Take the initiative to stay in touch with those you meet: perhaps arrange to travel together briefly, or meet up in another location. A network of friends from around the world can be a tourist’s best resource and often leads to the most rewarding travel experiences. Whether or not you make friends with someone, always treat each encounter as a chance to learn about the lives of others and broaden your understanding of the world. It is important to remain open to alternative perspectives and avoid ethnocentrism, so make a conscious effort to absorb the culture around you. Step outside the realm of your familiar and comfortable habits; you may be surprised by what you discover.

Once you reach your destination, you are likely to encounter the biggest challenge of solo travel: taking part in experiences alone, which may seem daunting. In general, do not be afraid to visit a restaurant or an attraction by yourself. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter how small the challenge, and take pride in overcoming it. Not only will you bolster your confidence and ability to think on your feet, but you will also come away with a better understanding of your capabilities. Embrace the chance to make decisions that cater to your interests and your interests alone. You will find that the more freedom you have in developing your day, the more the experience resonates with you. Always be observant of your surroundings, and take every opportunity to interact with locals – it is often the simplest encounters that make your travel experience memorable. If you experience moments of self-doubt or loneliness, look back on your accomplishments and remind yourself of the reasons you chose to travel alone in the first place. Keep the bigger picture in mind, and remember that it is okay to have an off day – it is all part of the adventure.

Embracing Independence and Self-Discovery

These people and the memories of the time you spent with them can impart significant meaning to your travels, and their transient nature adds a certain romanticism that is unique to the travelling experience. The friendships may not last, but the experiences and the lessons learned from them will.

These experiences are often enhanced by the ephemeral nature of the friendships formed. Knowing that your time with a person or group is finite tends to remove inhibitions and foster an openness that might not exist in a permanent relationship.

Alone, you are also more approachable to others. Travelling friends and couples can be exclusive, and less likely to interact with those outside their party. Being solo makes it easier for others to approach you. This is a great facilitator for meeting other travellers and forming transient relationships. On many occasions, I have been taken in by groups of people and welcomed into their “travel family” for a short time. This has provided me with some of my most enjoyable and memorable experiences on the road.

Being on your own also pushes you to be more resourceful. Without the safety net of travelling with others, you will have to learn to depend on yourself in various situations. The more practice you get at thinking on your feet and problem solving, the better you will become at it. This is an important life skill that can be applied in the real world, and you will return home more adept at tackling the curveballs that life throws at you. This improved self-efficacy is a clear demonstration of personal growth.

Your solo adventure will cultivate a sense of independence in numerous ways. Venturing out on your own into the unknown is a surefire way to strengthen your autonomy. Without your typical support system, you can feel vulnerable and free at the same time. You will be forced to make all the decisions, big and small, that ultimately create the course of your journey. Embracing this aspect of solo travel can be liberating in itself by taking the reins of your life into your own hands and accepting complete responsibility for the outcomes.

Connecting with Other Travelers and Locals

An important note is to “beware the familiar”. While it is great to meet people others while abroad, always use caution when deciding who to trust. Never be afraid to be rude or ignore someone if they are hassling you and never be afraid to lie about having a friend waiting or knowing the location of a nearby embassy. A sad reality is that solo travelers make international targets for crime, so always keep safety in mind before agreeing to accompany or being accompanied by someone you don’t know well. This is by no means trying to promote a fearful attitude towards other travelers and locals, but simply to encourage smart decision making when meeting and traveling with them. Overall, a positive experience with new friends and insights into another culture is something that can greatly impact your travels and be remembered for a lifetime.

When striking up a conversation with other travelers or locals, a few things are important to keep in mind. Each traveler and local you encounter will enrich and extend your journey through their own unique way by sharing new ideas, stories, and knowledge. This sort of cultural exchange can be unforgettable and really give meaning to your travels! First, always set time aside from your itinerary to simply be around the places you are visiting. Whether you’re in a park, museum, or café, being around and out in public increases the chance of meeting people compared to hiding away in a hotel or hostel room. Take tours of any kind, as these can be good ways to meet fellow travelers. This is particularly true for multi-day tours such as trekking, diving, or safaris where you are likely to get to know the others on the tour quite well. While staying in a hostel, it can be very easy to meet other travelers. Offering to take pictures of other travelers with a temple, statue, or other item can be a good icebreaker. A great way to get problem locals to warm up and bring them around to helping you is to use their own language. If you are an English speaker in a country where English is not the primary spoken language, taking the time to learn or at least try to speak the local language will be much appreciated by the locals you encounter. At times you may find yourself unable to communicate with someone due to a language barrier. In these situations it is often possible to communicate the basics using body language and hand gestures. Also keep in mind that interacting with people of other cultures can put you in situations where you’ll find it difficult to understand or appreciate their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors (it can sometimes put you in situations where you find them unable to understand or appreciate yours!)

Documenting Your Journey: Photography and Journaling

Having an understanding of your own habits and under what circumstances you tend to write and reflect effectively is key in maintaining a journal. For example, those who situate themselves in a nightlife scene may find it difficult to reflect in the early hours of the morning. Writing early in the morning or late at night could produce half-hearted entries due to fatigue. In this case, it’s better to write a small detailed note so that the following morning, those thoughts and experiences can be noted effectively.

While a picture can depict a thousand words, comprehensive details of an experience are lost on a photograph. Logging daily events and addressed thoughts in a journal is the most comprehensive way to document your travels. Creating a daily ritual to reflect on what’s happened during the day can help order your thoughts and prevent detail loss over time. Because memorable events can happen at any given time, it’s wise to keep a small notepad and pen on you during the day to document quick notes. Later on, you can expand an entry while it’s still fresh in your mind.

In the case that the language barrier has slowed your ability to communicate or understand locals, the universal language of photographs and hand gestures can still tell a story. Snapping a few pictures of the environment, people, and any activities taking place can help jog your memory when recounting those experiences in a journal. This will create a visual reminder of the locale and the emotional triggers of that time.

The utilization of a camera on your travels is a great way to document your experiences. However, if you’re set on embracing the culture and spending time with locals, their reactions to a camera may break the flow of natural moments one would want to capture. The notion of sticking a camera in someone’s face is generally intrusive if you don’t know the person. It’s no secret that photographing those who aren’t aware has its moral issues, so do so at your discretion. If bonding with locals is a high priority, the use of a camera may not be the best option.

The satisfaction of your trip extends far beyond the experience and memories. Your discoveries on your travels are precious and often valuable in that they change your perspective. Documenting these experiences is a crucial part of the travel process, even if it’s just a once-over, so when you’re old and grey, you can reflect on moments in your life that changed you.

Overcoming Challenges and Nurturing Personal Growth

Surely, solo travel is an incredible experience, but it is not without challenges. Many times, the trials faced on the roads less travelled result in the development of an individual who is more confident and well-rounded, and travel’s challenges often provide some of its richest experiences. “If you can survive travelling alone, you can survive anything,” says my sister. Here are a few of those challenges and how to make it through the fire relatively unscathed. One common fear, especially for women, is the fear of being alone. Though it is recommended to trust your gut if you feel that a place or situation is unsafe, being alone in a public place does not mean that you are in danger. It takes time to differentiate between a place being “unsafe” and it simply being somewhere that you feel out of your comfort zone. Over time, I have come to the realization that being alone does not equate to being unsafe, and that I am a strong, capable individual, able to handle and learn from any situation. Another fear is that of illness or injury. Getting sick away from home is always a miserable experience, and being alone only makes it worse. While in some situations it may be easiest to call it quits and return home, I urge you to try and tough it out. Not only will overcoming the obstacle make you feel stronger and more confident, but it will provide an interesting (and sometimes entertaining) learning experience in which you gain insight into the local culture through approaching their modern medicine practices. I have had my fair share of experiences with illness abroad, one of the most memorable being a bout with giardia in Nepal. Though it was a terrible experience that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone and did eventually lead to my early departure from the country, I learned a lot about the Nepali culture and holistic medicine, and I walk off the plane in the states a stronger person for having endured it.