Never you ever travelled alone? Maybe you have thought about it but just not ready yet. Either way, you should know that solo travel can be a rewarding experience. Not just for the places that you will visit, the people you will meet or the challenges you may face. Mainly for the experiences that you will gain, from both the good and bad that comes with solo travel.
I have travelled alone on numerous overseas trips. Totally over 200 days abroad exploring hundreds of cities in 31 different countries. There have been good days and bad days. With many positive experiences and some negative experiences. But I would not change one day of the travel experiences I have had.
The Good Of Solo Travel
There are many benefits to travelling alone. The highest on the list is getting to be the one who chooses what to do and where to go. You get to decide how fast or how slow you go. While also, if you are open, meeting plenty of new and interesting people along the way.
You Make All The Decisions
When you travel alone, the decisions are all your own. You choose how to get from place to place train, plane, car, ship or something else. Do you stay in a hostel, hotel, or brave the elements and camp? Are you here to see the sights or experience the culture. There is no one to ask what to do next as there is also no one to argue with if it is not what you want to do.
Depending upon the sort of person you are this can be a gift or your greatest demise. You do not need to compromise to ensure someone else is having a good time. But at the same time if something is not right you have no one to blame but yourself.
You Go At Your Own Pace
One of the decisions I enjoy most is choosing the pace for the day. Some days I want just to take it nice and easy. With other days that I just want to get out and see as much as possible. Travelling alone definitely gives you this option, instead of trying to match pace with someone else. Or worse still trying to get them to match your pace.
What I find at my pace is perfect when I have little to no plans. Something might catch my eye that I want to spend more time on. I have the option to slow down and spend that extra time. Likewise, I can skip over something that is not so interesting. When travelling with someone, this might not be so easy. Of course depending on the type of person they are.
You Meet More People
Even though in general I am an introvert, when I travel I meet people. Often when you travel with friends or family, you will stick close together. On the other hand with solo travel, you will find many situations where you can strike up a conversation. You may have to sit next to a stranger on the tour bus. Or meet a stranger waiting in line.
One my favourite options when travelling is to attend local Couchsurfing events. Numerous cities have these events every week or so and mix both locals and travellers. I also meet a lot of new people on cruise ships when sharing tables for breakfast or dinner.
The Bad Of Solo Travel
Alas, everything that has a good side also seems to have a bad side. Solo travel is no different, and there are a few things that are often lacking. The main focus though lands on cost, companionship and figuring out challenges.
Expenses & Single Supplements
Solo travel is, unfortunately, a place that you bear all the costs of the trip. While there are some items, you could not split anyway, such as airfares and day tours. There are some costs that could be split if travelling with a friend, like hotels, car rental and the like.
The greatest challenge in solo travel comes when you are looking at multi-day tours and cruises. The additional single supplement you may need to pay (anywhere from 130-200% in some cases). It can take a reasonably priced trip and make it unreasonably expensive. Besides on the first encounter with the idea of a single supplement, it can be a little confusing.
It Can Get Lonely
No matter how many people you meet when travelling, they are most often transient. You might meet someone on one part of the trip, but when you or they move on you are alone again. As such you can find that solo travel can be a rather lonely experience at times.
To some extent, this can depend on what sort of person you are. If you do tend to enjoy your company you may not feel this is a problem. However, you will often find that you are separated not just from family and friends. But in some cases, you will be separate from everything familiar. You may find yourself in an area where you know nobody, and do not understand the language. But the best way to cope with this is to understand it is only temporary.
You Figure It All Out Yourself
When something goes wrong if you are travelling alone, there is only one person to help you figure it out. That is you, unfortunately, there is no one to bounce ideas off, to help you formulate a plan. You just have to get out of bed every morning and figure out the next day.
Some people will see this as a great part of the experience. While others will see this as being their worst nightmare. But it is the reality of solo travel. At times you may be able to reach out to family and friends back home. However, you may also be separated by time zones or any other ability to contact them at times.
It is the opposite of the point above. While you get to make all the decisions, you also get to solve all the problems.
My View On Solo Travel
For me, solo travel is all that I know. I may have travelled with family at times for short trips close to home. But overseas I have travelled exclusively alone.
There are times that I do wish I could have shared my experience with someone else. Even at times wish I had someone else just as a companion so as not to feel entirely alone. But at the same time, I know this would have altered my overall experience.
When I look back at the travel that I have done, would I change it? The short answer is no; ultimately my experience has been good. But everyone needs to remember that any experience is just that. An experience that shapes our perception or view of the world in some way. When I look forward to travelling again in the future, whether it is solo or with a friend I think I will take some of the invaluable lesson’s I have learnt from travelling alone with me.
Looking To The Future
When I look forward to my potential future travels, would I change anything? Well yes, there are some things that might be best done differently. That is not to say what has passed is wrong, just that changing course can be beneficial sometimes.
I would love to hear your experience of travelling solo, so why not leave a comment below.