For some, venturing into the world alone is an intensely liberating experience, for others it’s a nightmare. So, should you travel solo, or with others?
Both ways have their own benefits, yet equally they both have their downsides. Having done both, here’s my take on the pros and cons of solo travel, along with tips.
First of all, let’s start with the negatives.
Loneliness – It is sure to vary from person to person, but every solo traveler will experience a lonely moment or two. Its inevitable. Traveling alone for long periods of time with no constant in your life can be draining. Not having someone to share all those amazing experiences with can be disheartening and lead to depression. Homesickness is something every long term traveler deals with, and the effects can be amplified when you’re alone. There are ways, however, to deal with this. During these times you can strive to be a little more proactive. If you are in an area filled with many tourists then booking a tour for the day my be beneficial. Also checking into an accommodation such as a hostel or finding local bars where people your age spend the nights could prove to be helpful.
Money – A term close to every traveler’s heart. Traveling alone nearly always works out to be much more expensive than traveling as a couple or a family. As a couple or family, you can share meals, stay in private rooms and split many of your expenses. You’ll also often find that for private tours you’ll be charged a lot more if you plan on taking it alone, same goes for cruise ships. It’s far too common for places to charge by the room, not the amount of people.
Safety – Solo travel isn’t unsafe, but it’s definitely less safe than traveling with other people. You’re more vulnerable when you’re on your own, because you only have you looking after you. When you’re in a group, you’ll have other people to look out for scams, to steer you away from danger, and make you less likely to get lost. It’s indisputable that traveling alone may involve slightly greater risk than traveling with others – but we must keep this in perspective. A few extra precautions taken on the road will reduce the risks significantly. For instance, if avoidable, don’t plan to arrive in a new location at night, travel on busy public transport – preferably with other people you have become acquainted with – and attempt to blend into your surroundings as much as possible.
Now it is time for the positive.
Independence – Traveling solo forces you to become independent, make decisions and step out of your comfort zone on a regular basis; something you wouldn’t necessarily do if you weren’t traveling alone. You are free to go where you want, when you want. No debates, no compromises. When you travel solo, you have nobody to rely on but yourself, and it’s that that pushes you to learn how to function in the world.
Make new friends – If you are on your own, you will meet more people. It’s as simple as that. A solo traveler is infinitely more approachable than an established group. In addition – those on their own will be much more likely to strike up a conversation with others than if they were already participating within their own group.
Adding on – Full buses? Full trains? Full tours? Not a problem. With a little encouragement, transport staff will be generally more likely to allow one more to hop on than if there were at least twice as many people with twice as much baggage.
Grow – This one is huge. Traveling solo will play a key role in your own personal development. Not only does the solo traveler have greater time to reflect and learn more about themselves, but this enforced self reliance will ignite a great personal confidence as you learn just how much you are capable of achieving.
When you travel solo, you have nobody to rely on but yourself, and that is what pushes you to learn how to function in the world. There’s no better way to get to know who you are as a person than by spending time with yourself away from the distractions of life. Solo travel has many benefits and it has definitely helped me to grow as a person.