While vanlife videos have been on mine and everyone's radar for some time, my eyes for solo backpacking was really opened by Christianne. I have been sat in lockdown for months dreaming, reading, watching travel content aspiring to explore and document my journey too! For someone with no travel experience, initial decisions are daunting. Therefore i ask the following question in a hope to find my starting point!
Where did you (or plan to) go for your first backpacking experience?
Sub Q's; Did you go solo? Highlights, lessons learnt? Air BnB/ Hostel? Working remotely/ finding casual work? Short/long term?
Thank you all x
In August I am going to the Lake District which is here in the UK even though I have lived and been brought up in the Uk I have never been. I have been told that it is very beautiful and the scenery is stunning. This will be a first for me as a solo backpacker and I will be camping as well. So excited about going and thinking about planning my next trip already Austria
I went on my first solo trip this Spring to Cuba, Nicaragua and Guatemala. While not being the typical destinations for first time trips, I had no problems at all. Cuba is not an ideal backpacking destination (a bit expensive, though manageable, and no hostels), but what an amazing experience. I loved being on my own discovering the country, and I really got to meet the Cubans in a different way being alone. They are very friendly, and because of the fact that they are very dependent on tourism, it is incredibly safe travelling there. Being solo I didn't even feel unsafe walking down dark alleys alone at night... Nicaragua has seen a major downfall in tourism because of political unstability some years ago, so there aren´t that many backpackers (but many more than on Cuba), even though the country felt just as safe as the others. Beautiful country with fun activities (think volcanoboarding and lava and volcanic lakes). Guatemala is a more popular backpacking destination. Being 19 I was the youngest the most of the time - most backpackers in Central America being in their mid-twenties. Probably my favourite country for backpacking of those three (even though I recommend them all). Incredible destinations ranging from active volcanoes (with lava) to one of the most beautiful lakes to jungle and Mayan ruins. They also have a Carribean coast, if you want some Carribean vibe without heading to one of the islands out there. Quite affordable as well.
If you do choose to go to Guatemala or Nicaragua, take a tour with Quetzaltrekkers. They are an NGO that help the local communities. The guides are professional and knowledgable, it is cheap, they have great tours, and there's a good vibe in the groups.
India was my first backpacking trip ever. Somehow i didn't read the articles about "don't go there when it's your first time backpacking", because it should be very complicated and stressful etc. But I watched every youtube video, read all blogposts to be prepared and more confident in what (not) to do. Still didn't read the " don't go"s :D
So i went there with my friend, which was good, because we had each other's safety until we got to our first hostel. From there on we were hanging around with other backpackers and soon i started to become more comfortable with travelling India, because many others went the same path as we did. They have an amazing hostelsystem, transport also very easy when you have a SIM card and know the prices for tuktuks. There are not so many party people there (except Goa) but more like-minded open spiritual people. After 6 weeks my friend went home and i kept on travelling for three more weeks and felt quite safe. I think it is normal that you're more cautious about your surroundings, and better being safe than sorry. I didn't have any bad experiences (I get catcalled more in my hometown than in india ... Which i didn't expect)
Now i think i can travel kind of every (classic backpacker) country, because i have been to India, which should be the toughest. But it wasn't, because i was not able to compare. Haha. I think it's always about confidence. :)
New Zealand and Australia! I did NZ on the kiwi experience which was the amazing beginning to backpacking because it eases you in gently. They take you al around both islands, your driver acts as a our guide and stops off at amazing hotspots like mountains, lakes and waterfalls, they arrange all your activities (skydiving, white water rafting etc) for you and hostels too! So the perfect adventure for a first timer. Then I did Australia solo, its so easy to get around via the greyhound buses, there are hostels everywhere, the people are super friendly. I can't recommend these places enough. The only downside is there expense, you need to either work whilst you travel or save up a LOT of money !
Australia!! I started my first solo trip (or first international trip for that matter) here this January. I took a lot of advice from Christianne’s videos while planning and even since getting here. I came solo, but quickly met people in the hostel on my first day. Therefore I’d always recommend hostels! I easily found a job here (even during covid) and am now planning on staying more long term. Love the Aussie life!
If it helps, I've met the most fellow solo backpackers while traveling around mainland Southeast Asia (Indonesia did have some but also a lot of couples) - especially in Laos, almost every I went I automatically made friends with other solo backpackers. Also, since so many new travelers start out in that area of the world, the travel infrastructure is set up so that it is so super easy to get around.