4 Must-Haves for Every Successful Solo Traveler

The question I have received a lot lately is “How?” I travel around the world for months at a time, and I mostly travel solo. People want to know how I do it. First off, let me tell you what I am doing is not that special. Not to undermine the experience because to me it is extraordinary, smashing, memorable and one of the most significant parts in shaping who I am. However, I am doing what many have already done. Or at least I have met many folks along the way doing it, but I guess we are the minority.  I am doing what all of us are capable of doing, if you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices. So for the sake of those that are still shocked by what I’m doing (my close friends and family members in particular), I will give you some insight into my methods now.
There are 4 things I feel I have needed and that anyone who wants to travel might need….and by travel, I mean long-term, walking the world with a backpack kind of travel.

Here are the 4 must-haves for every solo traveler:


1. Desire

You gotta want it. It’s gotta be at the top of your list. Before kids, before cars, before houses. Even before love sometimes. Heck, I have ended relationships because they couldn’t travel with me. During my main long-term relationship, in which I was in love, I ended up traveling to 10 countries without my love. It was a challenge and it showed me that it is best to be single along the way and who knows? Maybe I’ll meet someone with similar interests. I still struggle with this because if you know me, I am a lover.  But during that serious relationship when we had a house together with our dogs, and we both had our careers, I realized I was not happy living that life. Or at least at that point in my life. I had to be honest and real enough with myself to leave behind what most other people would call an ideal situation and get back on the open road.

To that I say to each his own. You may want fancy cars. Get them. You may want fancy clothes. Get them. You may want a fancy house. Get it.  You just have to realize what makes you happy and what doesn’t, and map your decisions out accordingly!  For me, my desire has become focused on less materialism and more culture.

Align your mind with your desire, and GO!


2. You Gotta Have Some Balls

That’s right you gotta have balls (figuratively speaking of course). Balls to quit your job. Balls to sell your car. Balls to steal your friend’s clothes. Balls to leave your dog with friends. Balls to show up in a country by yourself and not know the language. This one took me the longest out of all. I also need to thank a good friend of mine Jessi Corcoran (formally known as Jessi Schuab), for telling me to stop making excuses and chase the words I always spoke. So Jessi here I am in Thailand, by myself.
I used to make excuses saying I didn’t want to go alone, or I couldn’t leave my dog behind. And above all, I wasn’t ready to leave my grandma’s side. That one by far scared me the most. Her passing somehow gave me courage, especially in reading her letters where she wrote “You are now a bird set free.” A week after her burial, I was boarding a plane. My excuses stopped. I remember returning last year after my adventure, and wondering why I came home. And I knew it was mostly for my dog and for money. However, I wanted to leave as quickly as I could, so I did it again. I quit my 3 jobs for the second time in a year, left my dog with my best friend and have been traveling for 5 months now.


3. Support

This one is very important. I have the support of so many friends and family members. It’s unreal. The words of encouragement make this a breeze. But above all the acts, my best friend Aubree, who didn’t even give it a second thought and has taken my dog Feo in and treated him like her own. My brother who helps out with Feo and has always given me a nice travel gift to help along the way. Cayla, for letting me live with her even though she didn’t want roommates, but wanted me to save money (and no — I didn’t live there for free, but I didn’t have a lease, which was a big plus). My mom for giving me the travel bug. My friend Lyndsey for pushing me away which inspired me to travel. My father for being so sappy… it’s really adorable to see an old oversized man be so sweet! The lovers that didn’t work out, or at least the ones that would deter me from traveling. My jobs for being so supportive, hiring me back, and still telling me I have a job upon my return. I am very fortunate for the love I have in my life, including the many I have met along the road.
Recommended Read: 3 Useful Tips For Any Traveler Returning Home

4. Money

Everyone focuses on this one. And let me tell you it’s useless without all of the above. Of course money has helped me. I had 3 jobs before I left. I got amazing bonuses 3 years in a row. I also paid off credit cards the last time I came home, and the only card I have now gives me mileage. I sold my car right before I left on this last adventure and personally I don’t want to own one again. I put my student loans on deferment — judge me all you want for that but I have my whole life to pay them off. But I don’t have my whole life with good health to be climbing Machu Picchu. I know a lot of people who are focused on getting rich. If you know me, that phrase never comes out of my mouth. I have been blessed with good health, and I hope I have that before money. Heck I know rich people who would never backpack, and instead prefer 5 star resorts. Hello! That’s not traveling!! That’s taking America (or whatever high-end part of the country you’re from) with you and not immersing yourself in the culture. I know people who will probably travel when they are 60+ once they are ‘rich’ but I can assure you they won’t be doing or seeing the things I have done, because they physically can’t and honestly I doubt they’ll still have the desire to. The thing is folks, money is a tool. One minute you have it, the next it can be gone. So if you have the first 3 things, at the same time as money, my guess is you are traveling!
Do you want to ask Sarah a question about her travels? Ask away in the comments below.

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wonderful comments!


Sarah (she goes by Spotzler) is an artist, architect, photographer, writer, music lover, yogi and travel addict. She has been to 20 some countries and 5 continents in the last 3 years. “I still am jaw-dropped everywhere I go…Some more than others. Nowhere is the same… No one is the same. These differences intrigue me, and I try to capture them in my photography, as well as my writing to show the reflective growth traveling has had on me artistically as well as a human being.”


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