Hi all, I am a 36 years old Dutch guy who has never traveled alone. Since I have a feeling I am missing out something wonderful and because I want to expand my horizon as well as grow on a personal level I am planning to make my first backpacking/ flashpacking trip this year. I was thinking about flying to, for example, Milan in September and then visit a few cities in Northern Italy by train during a 10 days period or something. (In case I turn out to like this experience I am planning to visit Australia for a month or so next year.)
I'm a bit scared about the thought of traveling alone and I especially worry about whether or not I will meet other travelers (or nice people in general) with whom I might spend some time during my trip. Will there be other backpackers of roughly my age or are they mostly in their early 20s? Do I have to plan on selecting certain hostels for that purpose? Should I avoid the most touristic months because of higher costs, but more importantly to me, because there will be mostly couples and groups then? I don't want to end up strolling a big city feeling all alone. The main purpose of this trip is to meet other people, to have undertaken something completely on my own, and to have had a great time as well. So if there are better ways or locations to do so I would love to hear them.
Any advice of experienced travelers would be greatly appreciated!
Try bugeurope website - there is a travel companion forum there which might help with your quest.
I'd imagine that it would be mainly student aged backpackers.....though I am sure there will be more mature travellers along the way.
Thought about Oktoberfest?
Hi Dutch boy,
I feel your trepidations! i used to enjoy travelling everywhere alone but as time has passed, travelling as gotten very lonely! the last trip i took to see Andreas Vollenweider play at Lachen in Switzerland was surreal yet i found myself alone, very open to meet other travellers but generally having to have fun by myself because everyone else seemed coupled up! i have travelled since then but to familiar boooring places where i have family and friends! where else but London and the States? (NY of course)
Why am i writing you? i am in my thirties and i really feel your pain! i dream of a world where someone would set up an agency, vet its applicants so you dont get an axe murderer as a travel companion and together you can truly see a new place together no strings attached. What a story to tell later in life, all the complexities, arguments, cultural clashes coupled with the high of travelling with a total stranger? its the stuff dreams are made off. I wish you luck! It all boils down to trust though, are you really adventurous enough to travel with a stranger and does a buddy qualify as same sex or a real buddy?
Thanks for your advice and experiences guys!
boozy, Haven´t considered Oktoberfest because I´ve done much 'sun, booze, and disco type vacations'. Thanks for the tip concerning travel companions but it´s my purpose to go alone and meet people along the way.
luluzine, thanks for sharing your understanding. I'm not sure whether or not I want to team up with someone up front (e.g. by using a website as mentioned by boozyfloozy_si). I can also go with a friend who has already suggested to go on a short vacation together but I want to experience what it's like to go on my own.
So anyone some additional advice on how, when, and where to go in Europe in order to get that backpackers feel during my trip?
To be honest, I don't think you can really get the backpacker feeling in just 10 days. With a 10 day trip, you can have a good overview of what it is you'll be doing and where you'll be going, and so you'll almost certainly overplan, turning the trip into a vacation.
For me, an essential part of backpacking is the long-term aspect. Your trip must be huge to such a degree that you just can't plan up against it, so that you're forced to take things as they come, slowly working your way around, sorting out transport and accommodation while on the road, and changing your plans on the fly based on chance encounters, your mood on any particular day, and certain places just appealing so much to you that you end up hanging out for longer.
Backpacking is not just seeing and doing things, but just as much it's the gaps in between; learning to satisfy creature comforts no matter where you are and in which situation you're in; finding a spot on a hostel lounge's sofa with a book and a cup of tea, and just having an off-day to process all the experiences from the last week.
(Note, "backpacking" means many different things to many different people; I don't know how many people share my views on this being an essential aspect of it.)
I think with your plan of 10 days in Italy, you're trying too hard to keep within your comfort zone. I'd recommend taking the plunge and going to Australia/New Zealand for 2-3 months, or if you are limited in time, but do really want to go for it, to Peru or Thailand for a month instead. All four of those countries have absolutely excellent infrastructure for backpackers, and aren't nearly as scary as they might sound at first; but they are teeming with other backpackers (a vast amount of them travelling solo for the first time, too), and should give you much more of the experience which I think you're looking for.
Ditto Sander. Trying to get the, "backpackers feel" in only 10 days and (basically) without leaving your own backyard makes no sense whatsoever.
You need to go to a different continent and for a much longer time, 1 month minimum.
In the meantime, enjoy your short vacation. Northern Italy is lovely.
I understand I won't be able to experience what's backpacking like during such a short trip. I chose my words wrongly. What I meant was meeting people but now I understand it would be better to step out of 'my comfort zone' and go all the way. E.g. by going to Thailand for a month.
Thanks for the advice guys!
Sorry， I can't follow you
Will there be other backpackers of roughly my age or are they mostly in their early 20s? Do I have to plan on selecting certain hostels for that purpose?
There will be other travellers of all ages, year round. I like travelling off season because of the cost savings and avoiding families. I still find there are lots of people around to chat with.
Regarding hostels, I think that you might want to check out different hostel reviews to see what people say. I am not familiar with hostels in Northern Italy, but imagine like many places there are certain hostels that tend to attract the younger, party crowds. You can also meet people on buses and trains, or at tourist sites. Trying saying hello and chatting a bit to people who are walking around alone, and you might find some company for the day.
Enjoy your trip, whether it is Italy or Thailand.