Why I Travel Solo
Like many others, I probably started traveling solo because my friends weren't too eager to travel the way I did.
Once I started traveling on my own, I realized that meeting new people as a solo traveler is very easy. In fact, I believe you meet more new people if you travel on your own instead of traveling with a group.
I also enjoy the freedom of solo travel as I can choose my own destinations and explore them at my own pace.
The Inspiration Behind My ‘777 Days Around The World’ Trip
For a long time, I had dreamt of doing a longer trip before I would finish my studies and "settle down".
I knew such a journey wouldn't be as easy in the future if I'd start a family, for example. I wanted to do a long trip without breaks to fully detach from my life and routines in Finland.
I started saving for the trip two years before I left Finland. I worked full time but I lived on a very tight budget, so I was able to save roughly half of my earnings.
I earned 2600 euros per month (minus taxes) and I also sold most of my belongings before I went traveling. The salaries in Finland are very high in global standards, so I decided to work and save money before I hit the road instead of earning on the go.
Planning My Trip
My travel plans changed constantly. I started with a very ambitious plan of visiting all seven continents, but I soon realized such a route would be too expensive, rushed , and time-consuming. The longer I lived on the road, the more I focused on longer stops in different countries.
Dropping destinations from your itinerary is very difficult, but I believe it's the best choice.
I like to travel overland, so I usually traveled "from one country to the next" with as little skipping over countries as possible.
I also randomized some of my destinations: I picked a random destination by drawing a circle on the globe while blindfolded, and that destination turned out to be Kenya. I also let my blog followers choose whether I'd travel through Central America or southern Africa overland as I didn't have time to do both. Southern Africa won the vote, so I spent two months traveling overland from South Africa to Kenya.
In the end, I visited 49 countries on six continents during my two years on the road. I entered 34 of those countries without flying. I spent the most time in Mexico where I stayed for over three months as I slowly traveled through the country.
Read more: She Quit School And Has Hitchhiked In 72+ Countries: Iris Shares Her Top Stories & Advice From 7 Years Of Non-Stop Travel
Packing For 777 Days
I traveled with a cheap 75-liter backpack that weighed between 15 and 18 kilos (33 to 40 lbs) most of the time.
For those interested, I made a list of my backpack's original contents on my blog Arimo Travels at the beginning of my journey.
My must-haves include a headlamp for dark accommodations, Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for reading , and earplugs for sleeping and loud buses.
Managing My Costs
I kept track of my expenses with an app called AndroMoney.
I saved money by staying with locals with Couchsurfing, volunteering for food and accommodation , and saving on other things, but there were also times when I didn't think about money too much.
In total, my 777-day trip around the world cost about 36 000 euros. The trip lasted 2 years and 1.5 months, so on average, I spent 1400 euros per month. My monthly expenses varied a lot and there were times when I spent less than 500 euros per month.
My budget was relatively high for a backpacker. I visited so many places that almost a third of my budget went on transportation.
I've written a full cost breakdown from my trip on my travel blog.
Some Of My Favourites Memories From The Trip
I think that staying with locals is a great way to get beneath the surface of a new culture.
I loved the times when my local hosts would introduce me to local foods, places, and culture.
I also enjoyed meeting other long-term travelers on the road.
At the end of my journey, I spent three months traveling in Europe. During that time, I had a chance to reunite with many of the travelers I had previously met in other parts of the world.
Also traveling from New Zealand to the United States without flying was a unique experience.
I traveled as a passenger on a cargo ship across the Pacific. The voyage from Tauranga in New Zealand to Oakland, California, took 18 days.
The freighter journey itself went smoothly, but I ran into some issues beforehand: I wasn't allowed to board my first flight from Tonga to New Zealand as the immigration officers of New Zealand suspected I was going to work on the cargo ship.
A check-in worker at the airport in Tonga had told an immigration officer on the phone that I work as "Engineer 801" on the ship.
The name of the cabin on my passenger ticket was "Eigner 801" – Eigner means owner in German – but the check-in worker had just assumed it meant engineer.
With the help of my freighter travel agency, Luckily I was able to convince Immigration New Zealand to let me enter the country the next day.
Read more: From Near-Death Experience To Full Time Traveler: Here’s How Almost Dying On A Mountain Transformed Dave Into The Traveler He Is Today
Some Of My Favourite Travel Apps
I used AndroMoney for tracking my expenses, MAPS.ME for offline maps and Couchsurfing for meeting and staying with locals.
Couchsurfing introduced a monthly payment for most people in 2020 and many travelers have left the service for different reasons, so I'm not sure if I'll keep using the app in the future.
My Favourite Destination
I like to think that traveling is about people, not places. I enjoyed spending longer periods of time with different locals and travel companions around the world.
If I had to name a country that I liked the most, I'd say Nepal.
This was my third trip to Nepal and I love the nature and culture of the country. This time I took three weeks of private lessons in the Nepali language and I was able to visit the home villages of my local friends during a big Hindu festival. I enjoyed these experiences that let me see more of the local culture.
Traveling has made me a more content and flexible person. I am a shy and anxious person by nature, but stepping out of my comfort zone has helped me be more open to new experiences.
I also maintain my "travel mentality" and curiosity about my surroundings even when I'm settled in one location.
Read more: From Being A Couch Potato to Everest Base Camp
Some Things That Prevent Me From Traveling More
I'm now in a long-term relationship, and instead of traveling solo, we mostly travel together.
This requires some extra planning as we need to make our budgets and schedules fit together. Overland travel also demands more time than flying, and taking longer breaks from work can be a challenge.
In our case, we also need to take our health issues into account as we travel.
After finishing my trip around the world, I was diagnosed with a rare type of benign brain tumor called acoustic neuroma. I had major brain surgery 18 months ago and I've lost hearing in my left ear. My partner also has type 1 diabetes so she needs medical supplies anywhere she goes.
These illnesses don't prevent us from traveling, but we need to take them into account in our plans.
Read more: Amidst Heavy Pain And Despair Emily Turned To Solo Travel To Rediscover Herself
My Advice To New Solo Travelers
"Sometimes the fear won’t go away, so you’ll have to do it afraid." - Tracy A Malone.
Visiting new places and traveling on your own is scary, but it gets easier the more you do it.
If you're not a hobbit, it's unlikely that someone will knock on your door and invite you on an epic adventure. You have to take the first step on your own.
Also, I know that most people don't have the same kind of possibilities to travel as I do.
However, you don't need to travel as long as I did to experience the joys of travel. Be open to opportunities and truly assess your limitations.
While some restrictions are real, others might be mental barriers that you've created for yourself.
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