Every part of life has it’s good as well as it’s bad; this is especially true of solo travel. There are positives and negatives to traveling by yourself, and in this post we’ve written down our thoughts on each.
The biggest advantage of traveling by yourself is that you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. If you want to wake up early to watch the sunrise, you can. If you’re tired and want to sleep in, you can. If you want to linger and read every placard at a museum, you can. If you’re not hungry and want to skip lunch to get to the next attraction on your list, you can.
Another advantage to solo travel is that you have the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot more people. If you’re traveling with a significant other or friend, you are most likely going to spend your time paying attention to and talking to them. You may miss out on some interesting conversations or friendships.
When you travel by yourself, you also discover just how strong you can be. You rely on you and you alone, and often end up pushing yourself in ways you didn’t know you could. It’s on you to figure out the bus system. It’s on you to figure out which trail to take. It’s on you to negotiate the price for a taxi ride. Things you never thought you would or could do, you end up doing. Maybe not always gracefully, or even that well; but you do them. And that’s something to be proud of.
I take a lot of photos. But when you travel by yourself, you’re just not in any of them. I’m not a fan of selfie sticks either, so once in awhile it’d be nice to travel with someone who wouldn’t mind taking pictures of me. Sure, sometimes you can find another solo traveler and offer to take their picture in exchange for them taking yours. But still.
When you travel by yourself, there’s no one to watch your bags while you use the bathroom. Airport and train/bus station bathrooms aren’t huge, and trying to squeeze in while carrying backpacks or luggage is a pain in the ass. It’d be nice to be able to take turns with someone… “You go and I’ll watch the bags. I’ll go when you get back.”
There have been a few times now where I was denied a better table at a restaurant because I was eating alone. For example, I went to a restaurant in Cambodia where besides dinner they also had a show of typical local dances. I got there early so I could get a good table, and even though the place was still pretty empty, I was made to sit further back. They told me the better tables were for parties of two or more.
Another pretty big disadvantage to traveling by yourself is you have no one to share costs with. If you’re traveling on a budget, you may have to stay at a hostel. If I was traveling with someone, a hotel would be doable if we were splitting the cost of the room.
Safety is also a concern. I realize anything can happen to anyone, whether they’re traveling solo or in a group. But the truth is, you do have to be a little more cautious when you’re traveling by yourself. Sometimes I’ve stayed in at night instead of going out because I didn’t feel comfortable walking by myself.
Adding on to the topic of safety, when you’re traveling by yourself you can’t (or shouldn’t) drink as much as you would if you were traveling with someone. If you drink too much, who’s going to help you back to your room? Who’s going to make sure no one steals your wallet?
I know that I mentioned that a positive thing about solo travel is how tough it can make you, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone there with you when you have a freak out moment. Like when everything has gone to shit and you feel like screaming and crying (like when I had my road trip from hell). It’d be nice to have someone help you figure things out, or just calm you down a bit.
And of course, when you travel by yourself you sometimes get lonely. When you’re sitting by yourself at a restaurant. Or lying in your bed at night (especially then). You wish you had someone there to share the amazing experiences with.
So with all that being said, do I think people should travel by themselves? Yes!! Solo travel can be exhausting at times, but also so exhilarating. Just like anything, I think people should try it at least once in their lifetime. You may love it, or you may hate it. But there’s only one way to find out.
Have you ever traveled by yourself? What do you think are the pros and cons of solo travel? We’d love to read your comments below! 🙂
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