Backpacking through Asia - alone? How long?

by Saga

People seem to ask me almost every day what I want to do after graduation and the only thing I can think of is to travel. And I'm not talking about just a vacation, but a real life experience.

So I would love to go backpacking through Asia when I graduate (I'll be 19 years old then). I haven't had much experience of backpacking, none actually... And I've never been to Asia, but my family have traveled a lot. Do you think that it's a good idea to be backpacking alone? Or is it just far too difficult/scary/dangerous to do solo?

Also, since it's my gap year I will have quite a lot of time to travel, and I would like to make the most out of such an experience! So how long should I stay? Personally I don't think I would mind traveling the whole year... but I figured it might get a bit much?

I would probably cry of happiness if you could help me out!

Hade jag kanske kunnat skriva allt det där på svenska istället..? Oh well!

Answer: Hei Saga, I will write in English so others can read the answer as well ;-)

"Do you think that it's a good idea to be backpacking alone? Or is it just far too difficult/scary/dangerous to do solo?"

I personally think it's good to go backpacking alone because the experiences you'll gain will be tremendous, compared to if you were to travel in a group. It's about personal growth. So, yes I think it's a good idea.

As long as you prepare yourself good enough, it will be less difficult. There will probably be some confusion at first when you get at the first destination because things are totally new and different in Asia, compared to Europe/Sweden. But after a couple of weeks you'll get used to it! :-) To prepare yourself, read up as much as possible on the destinations, social customs, how to travel around in Asia (public transportation) and scams.

I've traveled solo a couple of times now, and I don't find it scary. The first step can be scary, but once you're on the road meeting new people, you'll forget that you were scared to begin with. It's about taking that first step. Before every time I went solo traveling, I got this tingling, nervous feeling in my gut. But after the first step, it was gone.

I think most solo travelers get a little nervous once they start traveling alone, but that nervous feeling doesn't get far. Since you're new to Asia and backpacking, I reckon you will be more nervous. I know, I've been there.

Before I went backpacking the first time in Asia, I had only traveled to Europe, North America and Africa. The only time I went to Asia was with my family, and things were not the same then. I was nervous as hell, but I just went for it! As I said, it's about the first step. You'll be thinking more about what to see and do while traveling, than the fact that you're traveling alone.

Dangerous? As long as you use common sense, avoid shady streets at night and watch your wallet and important belongings, I believe you'll be fine. I stress the importance of reading about scams in Asia BEFORE you depart from Sweden, because scams are common in Asia. That's probably one of the worst money dangers I consider in Asia.

"So how long should I stay? Personally I don't think I would mind traveling the whole year... but I figured it might get a bit much?"

This is a tough question because it depends on what kind of budget you're planning to travel with. And some people get more homesick than others. What about figuring out which countries you want to visit first?

Example: If you decide to travel to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia, that's 6 countries. I would recommend to stay at least 3-4 weeks in each country to get a good experience and get to know the local culture. So this trip would last 4,5 - 6 months.

A year in Asia would allow you a lot of time. You don't need to stress or think much about time. You can do things in your pace and that's the ultimate wish for many travelers.

Hope this helps! :-))) Just ask if there's anything else.


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