“One is the loneliest number”
Play this ^^^^ while reading, it will help get you into my mind frame.
I have read so many blogs over the years on solo travel and they often talk about how great it is to be a solo traveller and how it is better than travelling with someone etc but I’m not so sure about that. What’s so great about travelling on your own?
Not too long ago, I decided to visit some family in the UK and thought it would be a good opportunity to see what it’s like to be a solo traveller. Usually I travel with my husband because I’m seriously needy and I’m a big scaredy cat, so I was interested to see how I would go as a solo traveller.
I caught a taxi at the airport, the closer I got the less I wanted to get out of the car, I wondered if I threw a massive tantrum if the taxi driver wouldn’t let me out of the car but I am an “adult” so I didn’t do that, I sat in the back very dignified, paid the taxi and went into the airport and so there I sat, alone at the airport.
I went through waves of excitement and pure terror and what felt like a massive hole burning through my chest and tears eagerly burning to escape.
I watched others say goodbye to their loved ones, I went through a range of emotions of jealously, excitement, fear, and regret. None the less I got on the plane and made it to and back from London. (I’m alive!!)
My Pros and Cons of solo travel:
- It was great being able to wander around without having to wait for someone and being able to go where you want and see the things you want to see or do things I wanted to do – not that my husband stops this however we tend to like different things when travelling.
- Being able to eat what I wanted (when you remember to eat..), not having to argue about who’s turn it is too choose what we have or where we eat.
- I got lost a lot, my husband usually leads the way (see needy!) and does all of the navigating. Firstly, I didn’t take a map and had very vague idea where my hotel was compared to the closest tube station and there were not many people around for me to ask for help. (Hot tip: get a map!). I found London city to be incredibly helpful as they had signed maps here and there to tell you where you were and what was within a 5 min walk (lifesaver!).
- I forgot to eat, Ben (husband) usually reminds me to have breakfast or lunch and we usually have a nice dinner somewhere. I would often get distracted (by shiny objects…) and forget that I was hungry or that I needed to eat and drink.
- I was so lonely, so desperately lonely!! This was probably the worst feeling I had all trip, I had no one to talk to, no one to share my experiences with and no one to cuddle at night.
- I was scared a lot; I didn’t walk around alone at night very much as I was scared of all the crazy drunk people in Soho. The door of my hotel room would shudder anytime anyone opened or closed their door or the hall doors, this is where I wished I had brought a bat or something to sleep with to feel safe.
- Trying to use the bathroom on the train with luggage, which wouldn’t fit, luckily a very nice gentleman offered to watch my bags while I used the facilities. Which worried me because I thought he was going to steal my stuff, luckily it was still then when I finished – score!
I asked some of my fellow bloggers what their pros and cons of Solo travel is and here they are:
Sharon from Where’s Sharon
I mostly travel with my young kids now, but I have travelled around many countries alone. I think there are pros and cons to all types of travel arrangements.
My favourite parts about travelling alone is that I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to consult someone else. I can stop where I want, eat where I want, see what I want without worrying about what someone else wants to do.
I have made many great friends while travelling, and all the strongest friendships have come from times where I was travelling alone. It is just not as easy to meet people when travelling in a couple or as a family. There is less incentive and other travellers are less likely to approach us.
The biggest con of travelling alone for me is that it does put me off some destinations where it is hard for a solo female.
I did not enjoy Turkey much thanks to constant sexual harassment and this scared me off going to some other countries in case I had the same experience. It can get a bit lonely, but I have never found this to be too much of a problem as it is quite easy to meet people along the way.
I love travelling with kids now as it gives me two other little people to share my experiences with. Their enthusiasm and discovering everywhere again through their eyes is just amazing.
I also find that locals are far more open and friendlier to us now that we have kids in tow and we are able to have more interaction with them than I did in the past.
Nick from Boy Wander
I like the challenge of it, I like being forced to go out and meet people otherwise it becomes too easy to just sit and chat with your partner or friend and not take advantage of the opportunity to meet others.
I don’t like travelling with a plan so usually when I’m deciding to leave a city for the next one that decision is made in the morning when I wake up and decide that I will leave today. I enjoy the freedom of not having to make sure everyone agrees. It also gives me the chance to jump onboard with other people as I please.
Travelling for me is a personal development/self-growth tool and I think solo travel will maximise that growth for me.
It can and will be lonely no matter how comfortable you are in your own company. Little things can be more difficult like if you need to run around an airport or train station or even use the bathroom you can’t just leave your gear with a friend.
Taxi’s and a tuktuks are more expensive – they don’t really change the price for 1 or 2 people You have to sort out everything yourself – One thing I remember from travelling with a friend was that it was nice how some days they would come back and say hey I’ve got our tickets sorted.
Silva from Heart my Backpack
It’s easier to meet other people, whether they are locals or other travelers, when traveling alone. It’s way easier for people to approach someone who’s alone than a group of people.
I find that when I’m backpacking solo people are always talking to me, whereas if I’m traveling with other people, or especially as part of a couple, people are a little less forward.
Locals are super willing to help solo travelers. This might apply more to female travelers and traveling in less touristy places, but in my experience people have been particularly ready to help me when I’m on my own.
When I was in Tehran, if I would just stop walking for a few seconds women would come up to me asking if I needed directions or help with anything. It was great!
You can really immerse yourself in the local culture when you’re the only foreigner. When I’m on my own it’s easier for me to sort of let go of who I am at home and really try to live and act like the locals.
I find that when I’m traveling alone I can sort of adapt to how locals act. That’s harder to do when I’m traveling with people I know from home, because we already have a set dynamic.
You can do whatever you want. It’s so nice sometimes to simply decide to stay in bed all day, eat chocolate for breakfast, or visit that museum that your friends would find totally boring.
Sometimes traveling alone can be really scary. There have been times where I’ve gotten lost or have to be alone with a guy in a car and I’ve worried about my safety. I would have felt so much better if I had had a companion with me.
It can be an intense travel experience. Sometimes when I’m traveling alone I’ll realize that I haven’t spoken to someone in English in over a week, or I’ll feel like I’m losing touch with what’s going on at home. Sometimes I miss having someone to chat about pop culture with and not having to worry about language barriers.
Marysia from My Travel Affairs
Personally I can’t think of any cons of travelling solo, maybe because I love to travel alone. Maybe because the more I travel the more selfish and greedy I become about experience and adventure.
Travelling with a partner or with a friend not only means that decisions and direction have to be taken by both parties but as well, and most importantly for me, it means that I have to sacrifice part if my attention for the other person and I always was about total immersion when it comes to travel.
You see while travelling alone you have to open up to people and to local culture. You are prone to more interactions, conversations and saying ‘yes’ to potential invitations no matter if it is a tea with a stranger or biologists expedition in the forest.
And I’m aware what many people think…you have no partner to travel so you try to be happy about travelling solo. Not in my case, even when I have been in relationships I preferred to travel on my own and that attitude cost me few of them
Melissa from Linguist on the move
- More often than not, I can’t find friends, family or a loved one with the money, vacation time and desire to go where I want… I can’t imagine not seeing a place on my list simply because someone else can’t or doesn’t want to as well.
- I love the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts, not concerned about whether someone else is having fun or not. It’s not just about seeing/doing what I want (I’m happy to have a travel partner add his/her input and suggestions) – it’s more about the idea of taking it all in and appreciating it myself. There’s something inexplicably pure about it.
- It boosts my own confidence to get through a sticky situation, tough out a hard day or figure out an unfamiliar city on my own.
In short, I’m a fiercely independent person and I think that’s in large part due to 18 years of independent travel. Having the confidence to tackle the world on my own has also led to me seeking out saner relationships and friendships, in which I don’t feel like I need to lower my standards because of a need to be with someone rather than a desire.
Very deep, I know!
- It can get lonely. But I counter that by striking up conversations with strangers (a skill I’m still trying to master). I’ve met some great people from traveling that I probably wouldn’t have if I had been with someone.
- Any time I have to go to the bathroom in an airport/train/bus station, I have to carry ALL my bags into a tiny stall! I’ve gotten stuck more than once.
- It can often be more expensive (hotels, solo surcharges on tours, etc.)
Was travelling Solo worth it? Did I enjoy myself?
The answer is Yes! I had a wonderful time in London however I think it would have been 110% better with man by my side. (I’m a sappy romantic aren’t I!)