How To Backpacking Travel: Solo, Group, or Guided?


So, you made the big decision to go backpacking. Congrats! There are a number of important decisions to make now. Which continent and countries should you explore? What time of the year should you go? Most importantly though, you need to decide how you are going to travel. Should you go by yourself, take a group of friends, or join a guided tour?

Travelling Solo

So, you’re considering travelling by yourself. Travelling solo may be more expensive at times, depending on where and how you want to travel.

Cons of Solo Travel

Cheetah Backpacking

If you’re not comfortable with cheap dorm rooms in hostels, be warned that private rooms can run your costs up very quickly. If this is important to you though, you should budget anywhere from 30-60 euros per day, depending on where you are travelling.

Pros of Solo Travel

Travelling solo is a decision to spend a lot of time on your own. But, if you’re staying in hostels, there is always the opportunity to meet people. In my experience, you will probably meet more people travelling solo than you would when travelling in a larger group, since you are forced to socialise. Besides, if you’re open to new experiences, people, and fun, you can probably find someone willing to tour around a city with you for the day. Who knows, you may even decide to change your plans and follow that guy or girl in to another country. Anything can happen!

Of course, if you are going to do something like follow a stranger to another country, try and be safe. You are responsible for yourself.

Another benefit of travelling by yourself is this freedom to change your plans. If you want to spend a day just sitting in a park reading, you can do this without judgement. If you decide that a city is not right for you, you can move on at any time.

As someone who has travelled solo and with friends, I really prefer to travel by myself. Travelling solo forces you to take care of yourself, and the freedom is exhilarating. All things considered, travelling alone is not for everyone, and many backpackers still opt to travel in groups.

Travelling With Friends


Backpacking with a group of friends sounds like a great idea! There are a few issues that need to be considered, however.


First, you need to carefully decide which friends you want to travel with. Take it from me, just because someone is your best friend, does not necessarily mean they will be the best travel companion.

You will be spending a lot of time with these friends. Imagine every moment for the duration of your trip being spent with these people. Will you get sick of them? Having an occasional impulse to run away from someone is fine, but feel that way for the whole trip and you won’t be having as much fun as you should.

Museums, Sight-seeing, or Beaches?

When penning a list of friends to go travelling with, consider your common interests. Are you both the type of person that likes to go to museums, or lay on the beach? If you love museums, and your travel companion would rather bake on the beach, you might want to think twice, unless you are both willing to compromise.

Good Value in Hostel Rooms


Second, consider the size of the group. Going backpacking with your entire sorority would require a lot of planning. Taking one or four special friends is much more manageable. You might want to take into account the fact that most hostel private rooms are doubles, twins or triples. The benefit of travelling in a manageable multiples of two or three means that you get the benefits of a private bathroom (making you the envy of all long-time backpackers) without blowing your budget.

As a side note, you may want to build up, or at least be open to, free time in your schedule. Backpacking trips are supposed to be a fun experience, so do whatever is necessary to make that a reality — including alone time!

Travelling by Guided Tour

Even if you’re considering a guided tour, you need to decide whether you will travel alone or with others. If you’re considering taking a cruise, they tend to add a ‘single supplement’ to the price (a scam in my humble opinion) for the independent adventurer that fancies a cruise.

Guided tours may seem more expensive on the surface, but it does usually place you in an upgraded hotel room from the backpacker norm. Guided tours may also include more unusual activities you might not have thought to do on your own, like a wine tasting or belly-dancing exhibit, to name two very random examples. Trying to arrange a tour of a carpet-making factory in Egypt proved much more difficult for me than it did for a friend, due to the different nature of our trip arrangements. So, do to take this into account as well if you have specific things in mind.

Guided tours also include… well… a guide. If you do not want to spend your time looking at a map or going through a guidebook, this may be a better option for you. Some people simply prefer to book a trip and have someone guide them through it all. If this is your travel style, you will probably be happier with a guided tour.

Whichever way you decide to travel this time, you can always change it around the next. And it can end up being as much a part of the experience as the location itself.