Friday, December 4, 2020

Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone by Aaron Hodges - Book Blitz

Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone

Feeling alone? Trapped? Lost?

Time for an adventure!

The bad times won't last forever, and for more than five years, Aaron Hodges has journeyed the globe alone, visiting everywhere from Istanbul to Argentina. Honest and insightful, SOLO is packed with his personal travel tips and humorous stories. Learn about the ups and downs, the triumphs and the pitfalls of venturing off the beaten path. Follow his guidelines for exploring the world alone and be inspired to take the trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Discover the world of solo travel.

Go Solo!

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First Steps
So, it’s almost time to hit the road and join the ranks of solo travellers taking over the globe. But there’s still just one question you need to answer before you go:

Where are you going?

Then again, the journey is the destination, so does it really matter where you’re going?


Some places are definitely better for solo travellers than others—especially if this is your first real experience on the road. Where you decide to go is ultimately up to you, and while I’ll be going over a few itineraries throughout the book, this chapter will give you a few things to consider before making your choice—as well as a little prep you should do before leaving on that jet plane.

The first thing you should ask yourself before choosing a destination is…where have you already been? For instance, Europe is a popular choice for many first timers—but if you’re European, chances are you’ve already seen many of the highlights! Equally, if you grew up taking vacations in Cancun or the Caribbean, you might want to set your sights further afield.

That’s not to say backpacking these destinations wouldn’t be a completely different experience compared to a vacation, but it’s more exciting if your first trip offers an entirely new experience. Plus, if you’ve already done a bit of travel you might be able to start higher up the “difficulty rating” of destinations (more on that shortly!).

Another thing to consider when choosing your destination is, somewhat strangely, your age. While I’m the first to say solo travel is for all ages, it’s also easy to see that the age range of travellers varies wildly depending on where you go—especially when it comes to hostels. The Eastern European backpacker trail, for instance, (Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Belgrade) definitely play to the younger crowd, and more specifically the party scene. So if you’re looking to let loose, this might be your crowd. If not, you might want to set your sights further afield!

Similar things can be said for backpackers in Southeast Asia, although depending on where you find yourself, the crowd may have a few more years under their belt. Compare this with South America, where language barriers and higher prices tend to require a more mature type of backpacker.

Depending on your personality and general sense of adventure, you might also want to consider how far off the beaten track you want to go. While it’s always fun exploring new places—especially ones yet to be discovered by hordes of tourists—moving too far off the established routes can also be lonely. For instance, one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited was Turkey. Travelling along the southern coast, seeing the ruins of Troy, visiting the Gallipoli peninsula (a very historically significant place for Kiwis), all of it was spectacular. 

Every year on the 25th April, Kiwis and Australians come together and spend the night sleeping under the stars at Anzac Cove, Turkey, to commemorate the battle fought for the peninsula in World War I.

But it was also a bit quiet. There were very few hostels (something I’ll be talking about in the next section), and even fewer travellers who spoke English. So wonderful as it was, after three weeks I was ready to take the ferry into Greece and make some new friends!

Other things you might want to consider when selecting a destination are your budget, time, and the types of activities you enjoy. South America tends to require more time and a bigger budget (although by no means does it need to break the bank) compared to a place like Southeast Asia where you can live like a king for a few bucks (might be a slight exaggeration). Language can also be an issue—you wouldn’t believe the fright I got when I first showed up in Mexico City and realised almost no one spoke English!

After my experiences all over the world, I’ve actually now created a fun ranking system of the different regions. It is, of course, just a rough guide, and can still change drastically where you go in each country/region. But the ranking will at least give you some idea of the various difficulty of travelling in a few parts of the world, based on my own personal experiences. Level 1 = easiest, level 5 = hardest.

Level 1 (Europe, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia): If you’re reading this, you speak English, so you won’t face a big language barrier in these places. They also generally have easily accessible public transport and a low level of crime. Plenty of hostels and other solo travellers to meet along the way.

Level 2 (Southeast Asia, parts of Eastern Europe, Turkey): While generally not the native language, there’s still a lot of English speakers amongst the tourist industry. Pickpockets and petty crime may be more common, but generally still pretty safe. Transport might be more difficult or less comfortable, but can still often be booked online.

Transport in SE Asia tends to be less comfortable than Europe.

Level 3 (Mexico, South and Central America, Nepal): Language in these countries presents more of a problem. For instance, taxi drivers will now tell you the price in the local language. Transport options vary significantly (from comfortable and safe in Peru/Argentina, to hot and time-consuming in Central America). Safety definitely becomes a greater issue. I have personally never had any issues, but here you will meet fellow travellers who have been robbed/mugged/worse. With a greater degree of care it is still perfectly safe to travel here, though. This of course excludes countries that are currently experiencing political unrest or economic crashes such as Venezuela.

Level 4 (India): Overwhelming, although this does vary significantly depending on where you are. Rajasthan is far more pleasant than Varanasi, while the south is more relaxed than the north. However, in general, India can be an overwhelming experience for a solo travellers. It has everything from air pollution, the noise of a thousand horns, absolute chaos in the streets, delicious food (poisoning), terrible (and good) intercity buses and trains, and more. Many, many people love their experience in India, but I would highly recommend bringing a buddy for this adventure. At the very least, you can share the stress of this strange and amazing country.

India is chaos personified. To reduce the stress of exploring this fascinating country, I recommend bringing a friend for this one.

Level 5 (Parts of Africa and the Middle East?): You’re waaaaay off the tourist track. Unexplored territory. I dunno man, I barely survived India! If you’re travelling solo in a level 5, I’m impressed 😉


Well, that’s my ranking system anyway.

For my money, I would recommend Southeast Asia for most first-time solo travellers. It has the best combination of cheap prices, amazing experiences, and difficulties that’ll test your will to continue. It’s far enough outside our western world that you’re guaranteed to have an adventure, while still retaining enough infrastructure and a level of safety that means it’s difficult to find yourself too far out of your depth. There’s also a very lively backpacker scene, so you’re unlikely to find yourself alone unless you go looking for it.

The best part about SE Asia is you’ll always find other backpackers wanting to make friends!

I’m also quite taken with the backpacker routes through Mexico and Central America—but fresh-faced new travellers may find they struggle a bit with the language barriers. And as it mentions in the charts, a slightly higher degree of caution is needed with your belongings and personal safety.

And finally, if all this has made you a bit nervous, don’t be ashamed to start off with some kind of backpacker tour! As I mentioned earlier in this book, that’s how I first hit the road. My first four weeks in Thailand with Xtreme Gap were actually amazing. I saw many places I doubt I would have visited without them. And the experience gave me the confidence to strike out on my own afterwards.

Just be sure it’s a true backpacker tour with people your age—the last thing you want is to end up on yet another vacation with your parents!

Author Bio – Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job in 2014 and see the world. One year later, he published his first novel - Stormwielder - while in Guatemala. Since then, he has honed his skills while travelling through parts of SE Asia, India, North and South America, Turkey and Europe, and now has over a dozen works to his name. Today, his adventures continue...


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