Traveling solo takes a toll on both your physical and mental well being. Physically you need to prepare depending on the kind of trip you will be taking. If hiking or skiing you will need great stamina, strong legs, and considerable will power. When you are solo you don’t have anyone to help you carry things, so you need to be in at least good enough shape to carry your belongings yourself. A bellboy or porter won’t always be nearby. Most traveling involves lots of walking. This includes everything from hiking on volcanic beaches, carrying your pack on and off buses, walking up a steep set of stairs to your hostel, or battling the heat of the jungle while looking for wildlife. If hiking in isolated areas, you may need to be in great shape. You may be hiking up and down mountains, in extreme heat, and carrying a large load of food and equipment.
Mentally you also need to be prepared. Knowing a language can help avoid frustration considerably. Even if you are able to learn just a few words, the effort will benefit you in more ways than one. You should travel with an open mind. The people you meet come from different backgrounds and perspectives, so not pushing your beliefs on others and be willing to listen to other ideas will help benefit your solo travel experience considerably.
Gear Requirements/Packing lists
What a solo traveler can bring on a trip has more to do with the type of traveling they will be doing more than anything. Just like any trip you need to prepare by bringing every item you may need that cannot be purchased on your trip. In general you should try and pack as light as you can and leave some room to buy souvenirs. When you want to lighten your load you can ship some items home. If you need something shipped to you it is a bit more difficult, and if you need it quickly expect to pay a handsome fee.
Many hostels and small guesthouses have theft problems. Sometimes backpacker on backpacker crime occurs, not just the crime from locals. Therefore a lock is a good idea to have around. Try to find one that can both seal your bag tight and also lock it to a piece of furniture. This is especially true of solo travelers, who at times need to set their gear and luggage down from time to time and have no one to help look after it.
An iPod or MP3 player can do wonders for killing time in buses and trains. Not only can you store your entire music collection here, but language lessons, movies, photos, files, games, and much more. The Swiss Army Knife is an invaluable tool for an RTW trip. These little tools don’t weigh too much and can include literally hundreds of useful items to make your trip much easier. A small flashlight is also a good idea for locations where there are power outages and little or no lights.
Photos of family, friends, and pets are a good idea to bring along for when you are feeling lost or lonely. Not only are they great conversation starters with new friends, they can help pull you out of a funk and kick your homesickness to the curb.