Traveling is one of the best things you can do in life. It's a privilege to be able to explore different parts of the world and broaden your mind.
You get to see and try things you've never done before. And often, you will have a lot of fun traveling with your family and friends.
Traveling with family and friends allows you to bond with them, and you also get to know sides of them you wouldn't see in your everyday interactions. However, sometimes traveling with your family and friends can also be stressful.
If you already traveled everywhere often with your family and friends, maybe it's time to broaden your repertoire a bit and start backpacking by yourself. It's a lot easier to plan a trip if you're only going to consider your plans, especially if you're a fan of hiking.
But if you do go backpacking solo, you need to be more prepared. On that note, here are seven essential tips that you should follow before any hike you plan on doing alone:
1. Get your insurance sorted
Since you're traveling by yourself, you're opening yourself up to a lot of risks. So you need to have the right protection.
When you're backpacking by yourself, this isn't the time to skimp on your travel insurance. If you're traveling in certain places with higher risks, you need to get travel insurance, especially as a hiker.
There are different tiers with travel insurance. So do your research and depend on your choice based on how risky you think your hike is going to be.
2. Know the country you are going to
When traveling in a group, it's a lot easier to get away with not learning as much about your destination. Since you're surrounded by people who live in the same place that you do, you can tend to enjoy the information you get from them instead.
However, when you're by yourself, you only have yourself to rely on in the trip. The only people you can ask for help are locals. So you need to learn more about the country where you’re hiking.
3. Plan ahead
If you’re backpacking by yourself, you’re going to need to be more self-reliant. The price of going at it alone is that you need to be more prepared for any eventuality.
Check which hiking equipment you’ll need based on where you’re going. For example, if your hiking trail terrain is rough, you might benefit from having trekking poles with you. If you plan on hiking in a particularly frosty environment, you’re going to need extra preparation and more specific equipment for the situation you’re hiking in.
Planning is key. Make sure that you don’t leave anything behind. It pays to double-check because you don’t want to be losing an item right when you need it.
Related: A Wonderful Escape: Why Traveling is the Perfect Stress Reliever
4. Keep your valuables safe
When you're by yourself, your valuables are more of a priority than ever.
If you lose your travel documents, wallet, or mobile phone, it's going to make your stay a lot more complicated. Therefore, you need to be more careful with where you put your valuables.
As much as possible, you want your valuables as close to you as you can. Even in your sleep, you should place your valuables near you, like under your pillow.
Don't leave behind any of your valuables if you are going to step out of your current accommodations. The hassle of carrying them around with you is much better than the hassle of dealing with what happens if you lose the valuables.
5. Have backup documents
Having backups of your travel documents is essential, even if you think you might not need them.
Aside from the apparent travel documents, such as your passport and itinerary, you should also include any medical prescriptions that you need. Keep your backup documents in a waterproof place to whip them out anytime you need them.
6. Venture off but stay safe
Backpacking solo is your opportunity to reach places that you wouldn't have been able to if you’re traveling with someone. Use this chance to venture off the beaten path, but, at the same time, you still need to be vigilant and stay safe.
7. Be wary of some strangers
When you're traveling by yourself, you tend to rely more on the strangers around you.
Although many people can be reliable, you still need to be wary of a lot of them. Your priority should be your safety and not the feelings of strangers.
Learn to be warm and welcoming. At the same time, be aware and draw a line between people too.
Traveling with other people lets you get to know the people that you're with, but backpacking solo enables you to get to know yourself.
You don't have to stress the preferences of the people you're with, and you get to go at your own pace.
Although it can be a lot riskier to go on a hike by yourself, it's also going to give you a huge sense of accomplishment. As long as you do your preparations beforehand and remain vigilant and safe throughout the trip, you should be fine.
Eventually, you can come back home with exciting stories and photos of the places you've been, and you can show them to your family and friends.
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Originally published on Live Positively.