I’m a solo traveler! For me, one of the greatest thrills of backpacking is to rock up somewhere completely new and meet a whole new crowd of people, backpackers and locals alike. I have done a huge amount of both solo and group travel and I highly recommend you have a crack at both of them. When it comes to getting my friends to come out and travel with me for a bit I am a convincing bastard, so far I have managed to get eight of my friends from home to come out on trips with me at one time or another. What I used to do on longer trips is make a Facebook group with my, very rough, itinerary on it so people can work out when and where they want to join me.
Travelling with a friend is not only great fun and good for your budget (you can split transport and accommodation costs) but it is also a very effective way to minimize risk; if you get sick or injured your buddy can look after you. In India I literally carried a friend (who was suffering from anaphylactic shock) on my shoulder to a medical clinic where he was injected with adrenaline. In Nepal I slipped whilst suffering from altitude sickness and ended up hanging over an icy ridge with a sheer drop below me, my trekking buddy was able to pull me back onto the path and probably saved my life. Whilst backpacking it is usually pretty easy to find a travel buddy, I met a Dutch couple in a coffee shop in India and ended up travelling on and off with them for nearly five months.
If none of your friends are able to come with you then do not despair! One of the main reasons some backpackers never leave home is because they are worried they won’t meet anyone, they will be lonely and everything will basically suck. The reality could not be further from this. The backpacker community is awesome, everybody is extremely friendly and in general people will be really keen to invite you for a beer or to have a wander around together. It’s also really quite easy to find a travel buddy before you even get on the plane by turning to the internet…
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Find a travel buddy online
As well as being a great place for finding free accommodation CS is also a great site for finding travel buddies. I have found numerous people through the site groups (forums) who I have traveled with for a few weeks at a time. On one occasion it didn’t work out so well but there was no pressure and we just went our separate ways. The best groups to look in are the ‘Backpacker’ group and the ‘Travel buddies’ group as well as checking out the specific group for whichever country or region you are visiting – often people will post in country or city groups asking if other CSers are around for drinks or to see if people are looking to travel with another lone backpacker for a bit. It is definitely worth heading to any local CS meetings in your area.
A great new initiative aimed at connecting adventurous souls looking for a buddy to do something epic with… Definitely one to watch, Challenge Chum will hopefully grow into a large community of explorers, athletes, challengers and nomads over the next year.
I have used this site on a couple of occasions and found it to be a good way to liaise with other travelers heading in the same direction. I prefer the CS system as it tends to be quicker to contact people however this site is specifically designed for finding travel partners and should still be checked out.
It is always worth checking out Lonely Planet’s online forum for up to date information on where you are going and to find other backpackers headed in the same direction.
Some of the awesome people I have met on the Couchsurfing boards
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