By Guest Blogger Summer Fosdick

Confessions of a Backpacking Nomad in AfricaI just looked back through my photos and realized that over the past 5 months I have experienced some amazing things and met some amazing people while backpacking around the world.

As I came back to the US after 5 months in Africa I had someone ask me why I like to travel solo.

To me this seems like a simple question, but when you are trying to answer it, it’s not always that easy.

But then I started thinking back on my stories…I remembered. One of the major reasons is the people you meet, the locals and other travelers alike. I spent part of my time traveling “by myself”, which wasn’t ever lonely because you make friends with other travelers and then go places with them.

The other part of my trip I was on a tour. I can travel either way and I met great people either way. There are just so many other people out there that are like minded and traveling as well that you get along great with them. And if for some reason you don’t, you just don’t spend much time with them.

Backpacking as a solo traveler…

Traveling by yourself has a lot of appeal as well because you can do and spend time with whoever you want. Also, when you are by yourself you tend to talk to or go places with locals more, which always creates some interesting stories.

Meeting the Locals in South Africa.

For example, while in Senegal I ended up at some man’s grandfather’s home over 80 km away and I was naked washing myself with seeds he had spit on to protect myself, all this without realizing this was how the day was gonna go. This is a great story and something that would not have happened had I had another person with me.

Some people asked if I was scared to travel solo, and I said yes, because it was my first time traveling by myself, but I also knew I would meet people and make friends in hostels and guest houses along the way.  I think no matter what people tell you, traveling by yourself for the first time is always scary!  So if you are headed out there just know that nervousness and being a little frightened is normal.

Elephants at the Watering Hole in South Africa.

Another reason I enjoy traveling is because all the places you see and the cultures your experience. This is what southern Africa is all about. I have seen so many lions, elephants, hyenas, leopards and giraffes in the wild. Something you will never see in the United States.

I have been to Zanzibar and smelled the spices and seen the perfect beaches. I have seen the pyramids and temples of Egypt and watched the perfect sunset in Greece. I have experienced the culture and the kindness of people in Malawi and Tanzania.

Spices at the Spice Market in Zanzibar Africa.

I have chatted, sang songs and played with the kids on their walk home from church. There are so many countries out there that do things differently than we do back home and I think these are people worth talking to and places worth experiencing.

The last reason to travel that many people don’t think of is that it makes you appreciate home. Yes it is sometimes hard to come home, you may have to go back to a job, or look for a job.

Local Cuisine in South Africa for Dinner.

But being away makes you realize how lucky you are that you have clothes on your back, you have enough money to leave your country, you have a flush toilet with water down the hall and you have amazing people in your life.

There are a lot of little things that we have in our lives that make our lives very easy and many other countries do not have these comforts. Traveling abroad makes you realize these things and also makes you happier for your life, your friends, and your family when you go home.

So when people ask me if it is worth all the money and time I have spent to go abroad for the last 5 months in Africa I always tell them absolutely. All you have to do is decide to go and it’s not a decision you will regret!

Would you ever go backpacking as a solo traveler?