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A Guide to Solo Travel: Pros and Cons

I often hear people asking the same question; should I travel alone or with someone else? Good question, and quite a big decision. More often than not people are concerned about whether it’s even safe to travel solo and enjoy the feeling of having a safety net next to them. Others see travelling as a group as carrying dead weight that forces you to compromise your trip. What may be an advantage to one person is a pain in the ass to another.

It simply comes down to personal taste and more importantly, the kind of traveller you are. Despite that, everyone at some point in their life has asked whether it’s a good idea to venture into the world alone. So in that case, let’s delve into some of the different outlooks people have towards solo travel.

Pros

For me personally, the benefits of solo travel far outweigh the negatives! Most adventurers who choose this way of life see little to no disadvantages to solo life and see the major benefits to be liberating! There must be a reason that so many people choose to do it right?

Total Freedom

For many, this is the only reason needed to start travelling solo. You get complete and total freedom through every single step of your journey! There’s nothing holding you back or influencing your decision in any way. You can wake up in the morning, decide exactly what you want to do, and just do it! It sounds so simple but it’s something that’s completely lost when travelling with someone else.

When you’re alongside your partner, you have to check EVERYTHING with them. Where to go, how to get there, what to eat, where to sleep, what to do, every single possible decision has to be discussed. And that only gets worse the more people are involved.

Time to explore

When it comes to solo travel, there are NO compromises. You can do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it, and how you want to do it.

Do you want to spend a month working in a hostel for a free stay, then do it. Or do you want to hang back and chill with this group of people you just met, go ahead! You want to spend your day taking mushrooms on the beach and watch the sunset, be my guest! You become the master of your own universe.

Cheaper

There’s an incredibly common misconception that travelling alone ends up being more expensive. That is absolutely 100% wrong! In fact, travelling solo is MUCH cheaper. The problem with partnering up is that you’d have to consider their choices, and they might not want to take the cheaper option, meaning you might end up spending more than you wanted to.

Take care of the pennies…

No, I don’t want to eat street food, let’s go to this restaurant” or “I don’t like that hostel, can’t we just get a hotel?” are just some ways that in an instant, your spending is increased whether you like it or not.

People have the false impression that if you travel with others, you’ll just be splitting the cost…but splitting the cost of what? Ticket prices for transport are individual, just like hostel beds, entrance fees and most meals. The only things that you could split the cost on are things which are more expensive anyway i.e. private transport or hotel rooms. So, it’s a ridiculous myth.

Become the Master of Your Own Universe

Everyone’s heard the cliché catchphrases, “Unooo I just learned sooooo much about myself” or “I’ve just reeeeallyyy grown as a person”. As annoying as those typical upspoken lines are, they’re actually very true.

It takes courage to plunge into the unknown and being comfortable enough with figuring things as you go! Some people might go through their entire lives living in bubble wrapped society without stepping out of it.

And relaaaax. Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Flickr

And yes, let’s not be overdramatic, it’s not as if you’re a Victorian explorer delving into the new world! Modern-day backpacking is a breeze compared to that! However, it still takes a certain amount of bravery which will bring you out the other end as a stronger person who’s able to take on any challenge that comes their way!

Solo travel also becomes one of the few times in your life that you become the complete master of your own universe, where you have total control of every aspect of your life without anything holding you back. That’s one of the most empowering feelings a person could ever have.

No Emotional Baggage

This next one may sound very cold, but sometimes life on the road ain’t pretty. The more people are involved on a trip, the more emotional baggage you’re forced to carry. If someone isn’t feeling well, is missing home, or just being a grumpy little shit, then you’ll be forced to sacrifice your time and once in a lifetime experience to accommodate this self-centred individual.

I’m sorry, but that’s just completely unfair. Why should anyone else ever be allowed to ruin your once in a lifetime experience?

Cut the Cord

It’s pretty common for solo travellers to group up with an individual or few others while on the road. It might be someone you met in a hostel or during a tour you took together. You can join these people on other adventures and even travel further with them, after which you give each other an emotional embrace, follow them on Instagram and bid farewell as you both go your own way.

Sounds so poetic, yet occasionally it can become a fucking nightmare. Sometimes you’ll have the wrong first impression and you’ll realize that you don’t want to travel with this person anymore. What are you supposed to do?! Easy, just leave. You can’t really do that when you’re travelling with your best friend or your other half, can you?

Spontaneity

Hey, a bunch of us are going camping on the beach tonight, want to go?” Solo travellers wouldn’t have to think twice, they’d just go. If you’re with others, suddenly you have to compete with several different opinions. Maybe someone’s not feeling well, someone doesn’t like the idea, or someone simply doesn’t want to. And now that amazing opportunity has just passed you by.

When travelling alone you have the opportunity to be completely spontaneous and make decisions at a drop of a hat. The more people you travel with, the less spontaneity you have.

Where shall we go this time?

You Won’t Have to Argue

You love your family, right? But there’s a reason that you eventually leave your home. Being around your siblings or whining mother 24 hours a day is enough to cause friction between even the strongest family unit! Now picture that while on the road.

If anything, it’s even worse! You’ll travel together, eat together, sleep next to each other, experience every waking second with one another. I don’t care how close you are, you will 100% argue during your trip at least once, no matter who you’re with!

With each compromise, each decision that has to be made and each contrasting opinion, there’s a potential to argue. It’s just a matter of time. And in between those fights are the ultra frustrating passive-aggressive build-ups which are just waiting to be unleashed.


Cons

For every person who loves solo travel, there is someone out there that hates it. Whether it’s wanting a travel buddy or an entire gang, some people just don’t want to be alone. Many people wouldn’t even consider solo travel, and here are some of the reasons why.

Feeling Lonely

This is probably the most common reason against solo travel. You’re on the road for weeks or maybe even months at a time, and could go days without speaking to anyone. No matter how seasoned of a traveller you are, everyone will get lonely from time to time.

Some people can’t stand the thought of being on the road without having a friend by their side. People want a familiar face there, someone to talk to and to easily socialise with no matter where you are in the world. It’s one of the many reasons why hostels are so popular with backpackers, as it’s a great place to socialise and have a bit of human interaction!

Good times, good people

Safety in Numbers

This can be an enormous factor for many travellers, and especially for ladies who want to travel. Safety is paramount, and should always be considered. To be fair, travelling the streets of Asia or South America isn’t any more dangerous than walking the streets of London or New York, let’s get that straight. That being said, a lone foreigner walking through an unknown neighbourhood could face all manner of trouble by themselves, and might even become a target for the wrong people.

Generally in any situation, there’s safety in numbers. There’s definitely some truth to it, as you’re much less likely to be messed with if there are two or more of you. And in the unlikely event that something does happen, then there would be someone there to look out for you.

Take the Strain

Many people are afraid of problems arising while travelling and having no idea how to fix them. It could be anything from a missed bus to losing a passport or not being able to find a place to stay. These problems are hard enough as it is without having to solve them in a foreign language. By having a friend by your side, you at least have someone there to help you out.

By travelling together it’s both your responsibility to find solutions to any problem that may arise. Though that does mean you’ll have to deal with other people’s problems, they’ll also have to help out with yours. It’s a pretty good support system. Two heads are better than one after all!

Teamwork makes the dream work

Nobody to Share it With

There’s nothing better than enjoying a beautiful sunset over a crystal-clear ocean…but what if you have nobody there to share it with? It may not seem like a big deal, but many people don’t see the point in experiencing something incredible without being able to share it with someone else.

On occasion, it may not be that much of a big deal, but every once in a while you’ll wish you had someone there to express your feelings to. You might want someone to witness the fascinating beauty with you and have someone to create memories with.

Life goals

Living on Selfies

It may seem a pretty shallow reason, but for many wanna-be influences out there, then this is gonna be a pretty big deal. Who is going to take your photo?! Selfie sticks may close some of the gap, but you’re gonna have to get used to asking strangers to take your photo. There are plenty of polite souls out there, but let me tell you from experience, the random person is terrible at photography!

By travelling with someone else, you have someone else to help capture your adventure in the best way possible.

TravellingWelshman

A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.

2 Comments

  • Ben Zabulis

    A good article weighing up the pros and cons ! I wonder also if travel style might be time dependent. When younger I would travel alone and enjoyed it immensley for all the reasons you state, but, having met my partner, we have since travelled together and that’s been great too. Fortunately we have similar tastes, interests and outlook on life so there’s never been any conflict as regards what we do or how we do it – I guess by now we’re more like your final photo ‘Life goals’ ha ha !! Your reference to the ‘Victorian explorer’ made me titter, reminded me of my first long-term stint abroad working in Nigeria, before internet and email, it took five weeks to get a message home that I’d arrived safely but then it was a very different world back then.

    • TravellingWelshman

      Thank you so very much for your kind words my friend! I definitely agree with you that it can still be immensely enjoyable to travel with your other half, as long as you both have a similar outlook! In some ways the image of explore say a 100 years ago is quite a romantic one, but that being said it couldn’t be easier to travel now! Thank you again my friend, I really appreciate your support!

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