The Pros & Cons of Solo Travel

solo-travelThe difference between traveling solo versus with other people is complex, to say the least.

If you talk to a traveling pair about their experiences, it will be in stark contrast to the conversation you’d have with a solo traveler even if they followed the same travel plan and itinerary.  (I may be biased, but I’d almost always prefer to hear the stories of a solo traveler.)

The experiences are completely different and it’s important to consider this before making plans to go abroad with or without other people.  You have to ask yourself what you want to get out of your travels and go from there.

People constantly ask me what I think is the BEST choice between the two travel styles, given that I have experienced both.  There is no one right answer for everyone, though.  Both travel experiences have their positives and negatives.  At times throughout my solo travels I have been painfully lonely; wishing I had someone to experience it all with.  Those times made me question my decision to go alone.  Then there have been other times I’ve found myself stupidly grinning up at the sky thanking my lucky stars I decided to go it alone…because, well you know, you can literally do whatever the hell you want.

I’ve enjoyed asking friends and other travelers which experience they prefer and why.  Starting a conversation like this always leads to even better conversation (aka. travel stories!) so I am all about it.  I have found that each person is a tad different from the next.

Some say without pause they “would definitely ONLY travel solo,” then continue to tell me about the crazy summer they had in Australia or something.  Others respond with more questions: “I don’t know how you could actually go to another country…alone!  How do you do it?  Don’t get lonely?!

My answer(s):  Yes.  No.  Maybe so.  It depends on the day you’re asking me!  

My response has changed over time, of course, but I have consistently said that traveling solo- difficult as it may be- is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  I wouldn’t change a thing about the experiences I have had.  

What I’ve learned as a solo female traveler is this: there are positives and negatives just like anything else in life, and you must weigh them out.  So, perhaps, this will help you brainstorm your options while deciding whether or not to travel solo.

Pros of traveling solo:

  • Easy eating.  You never have to ask someone else what they want to eat.  Am I the only one who despises this conversational game of chess?  “What do you want to eat?”  Pause.  “I don’t know what do YOU want to eat?”  Rinse, repeat, gag me, repeat again.
  • What Schedule?  You’re on your own schedule.  Period.
  • Traveler’s choice.  Tours, excursions, etc. are all up to you which means never having to do something you only half want to do in order to appease another person.
  • You meet more people because you are more approachable as a solo traveler.
  • Self awareness becomes vitally necessary and you grow as a person because of it.
  • Confidence becomes you.  Whether you’re “faking it till you make it” or just a natural, to travel solo one MUST foster some level or self-confidence and inner strength.  Every day that confidence continues to grow the more you tap into it.

Cons:

  • Sharing is caring.  “Hey look at that ____!  Oh wait…there’s no one here.”  Sharing a moment doesn’t exist when you’re alone.
  • Awkward photos.  How awkward can the solo photo thing be when you have to ask a stranger to quickly snap you in front of some church alone “for your Mom” (aka. for your Instagram).  It’s either that or take one of those downwards angle shots featuring a bit of your arm in the frame.  Because, no…I don’t have a selfie stick.  I just…can’t.  I’m sorry.
  • Your bubble confines you.  The range of your overall experience automatically becomes smaller when you travel alone.  I’ve noticed during certain times on the road alone that I get into my own little routine and lose a bit of my adventurous spirit, versus when I am with others they encourage the group to do different things.  It’s natural to be pushed outside of your “bubble” more so when you are around others, and it’s healthy!
  • Language barriers set you apart from the crowd immediately, which can leave you feeling isolated and silent.
  • One mind is less than two.  Traveling solo means no one to share the challenges with.  Even for those that aren’t the best with organized group activities (ME), two minds problem solving is better than one.  Period.  Ever tried to navigate a metro station where no one speaks English and you can’t read the signs?  Yeah, you’d want someone there with you.  Trust me, I did.
  • Laughing soothes the traveler’s soul.  If for nothing else than to laugh about a bad situation (instead of crying), companionship can go a long way.

 


Where do you stand on solo travel?  What would you add to this list on either side?

Personally, if I were given the chance to do over my first year of world travel, I would still go by myself.  The personal growth that I gained by traveling alone helped me become a better version of myself.

The challenges I faced alone on the road helped me get to a healthy, balanced state of well being, and I firmly believe that no matter how many “cons,” EVERYONE should travel solo once in their life.

 

 

19 thoughts on “The Pros & Cons of Solo Travel

  1. MeanderWithMeg says:

    I agree that your thoughts on solo travel constantly shift depending on your mood, the country you are in, you age… All manner of things affect how we feel about the subject at one stage or another. What I can say though is that I definitely wouldn’t change the times I’ve travelled alone – even the bad moments – because I’ve learned an incredible amount from them and I’m proud of myself every single day. A great read, thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. fujoshijessica says:

    In four days I’ll be going on my first solo trip to Japan which I’ve visited once before with my Dad. I’m looking forward to having the freedom to go visit and eat whatever I want and when I want. A great post, thank you for sharing.

    Like

  3. Julie says:

    What a great summary of the pros and cons! I travelled by myself last year and loved every minute of it, but the one thing I did miss was having someone to go out at night with. I eat out by myself all the time but didn’t feel comfortable going to bars or clubs at night and I really felt it at times! Overall I loved being by myself, loved the freedom I had and the feeling of being responsible for nothing but myself.
    Well done on a great post.

    Like

  4. Jessica says:

    I’m glad you addressed the cons. Everyone always says solo travel is something we should do at least once, but it really depends on where you’re going. I definitely want to go to Bali alone, but that is a spiritual and meditative trip. I wouldn’t go somewhere like Paris alone. I know it would make me very sad not having someone to share that with.

    Like

  5. Jen Morrow says:

    I traveled solo for many years (15+), and now enjoy a combination of solo and couples travel. The experiences are very different, as well as age and economic position. I will continue to travel solo occasionally, but it is nice to have the right person to travel with.

    Like

  6. Migrant Muse says:

    Awesome list of pros and cons! I also agree that it largely depends on your mood and the situation. It’s normal to want to be around other people in times of need/loneliness, but then again it’s such an eye opening experience when you travel solo. Thanks for this post!

    Like

  7. PriVin says:

    Great list of pros and cons! We usually travel as a family and look forward to our time together but on occasions when I do travel solo I appreciate the freedom to not have schedules or plans.

    Like

  8. Vyjay Rao says:

    Just like everything in life, solo travel also does have its advantages and disadvantages. But I feel that everyone ought do some solo travel now and then. It provides a great opportunity to really understand oneself and engineer a transformation.

    Like

  9. shift_tomove says:

    I agree so much with this! Sometimes I’ve had such fantastic experiences travelling alone, but I always find that when things go wrong they feel a lot worse if you’re by yourself. But I always love a few days to myself on any trip I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. stephan placeres says:

    Being a solo traveler myself, I will admit that it gets lonely at times. It’s harder for introverts to open up to strangers, unlike extroverts. Those are the times I wish I had my drinking buddies around. So yes, it does get very lonely.

    But it has its upside as well. When alone, it feels like a spiritual journey. You’re a free bird and the world is yours. The possibilities are endless. Just going with the flow, being in the present, and making the most out of the situation has also been exhilarating.

    So I guess it depends in what you are in the mood for.

    As far as solo travel goes, it has enriched me in many ways. I am a more well-rounded person because of it. Solo travel has definitely been a blessing in my life.

    Like

  11. hobbypassion21 says:

    Being a solo traveler myself, I will admit that it gets lonely at times. It’s harder for introverts to open up to strangers, unlike extroverts. Those are the times I wish I had my drinking buddies around. So yes, it does get very lonely.

    But it has its upside as well. When alone, it feels like a spiritual journey. You’re a free bird and the world is yours. The possibilities are endless. Just going with the flow, being in the present, and making the most out of the situation has also been exhilarating.

    So I guess it depends in what you are in the mood for.

    As far as solo travel goes, it has enriched me in many ways. I am a more well-rounded person because of it. Solo travel has definitely been a blessing in my life.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s