In my younger years travel was something that caught my imagination. Seeing somewhere different and experiencing something unusual. But when I finished my years of school in the year 2000 and moved into the workforce I did a total of nothing towards making travel a reality in my life.
For many years I looked at the idea of travel as something that I would do someday when I had someone to travel with. In a way, I guess that there was a lack of confidence in venturing out into the world alone. Over the years I filled the gap of travel with exploring around where I lived. But at the same time was always looking wantingly to the bigger world.
There was a rather small step towards exploring the bigger world in the year 2008 when I finally organised a passport. However, that did not give me the push to travel. It was not until two years later in the second half of 2010 that the push I needed arrived.
That push did not come in the way of a travel buddy for me, it was a much more mundane work-related unease. The first trip I headed off with the need for a break from working and looking to a six-week journey hopefully settling the unease. Unfortunately, it had a rather different effect, which at the time lead to the next two years seeing me venture overseas another four times.
To date as a solo traveller, I have visited 35 countries in around nine total months travelling. Of all that time only 10 days have been spent travelling with a friend. In saying that I have stayed with friends in other countries as well. However, they were friends that I made while travelling solo, that I likely would not have met if I had been travelling with someone.
The Good & Bad Of Solo Travel
Obviously considering the amount of time that I have spent travelling solo, to be the good definitely out ways the bad. But while some of the good and bad for me is a personal preference for other people some of them could be the opposite.
When it comes to the bad aspects of travelling solo the worst has to be the fact that you do end up alone in new places. The reality of the world is that not everyone has your best interests at heart. The result is that you could end up in a dangerous situation that could rely on your ingenuity or the kindness of a stranger to get out of. Thankfully there has only been one concerning situation for me and thankfully I identified it early and was able to take steps to avoid any danger. But this sort of situation is always possible and my biggest concern when travelling solo.
There are some aspects of travelling solo that also land in both the good and bad for me. Things like when I travel alone I have to make all the decisions. At times this can be great because I get to do just what I want to do. But at the same time, that means that if I am stuck for an idea I have no one to call on for ideas.
As I alluded to in the first part of this post one of the best things for me has been meeting new people. Not only meeting them but becoming friends with them along the way. On my very first overseas trip partook in a conference with about 80 other people. On subsequent overseas trips I stayed with one in Seattle twice, I met one for coffee in Berlin, another for a couple of days exploring in Brussels, one for dinner in Melbourne and one for a little local tourism in Fort Worth. In each case I have had experiences I would not have had if I had just visited these places alone. By meeting new people while travelling and sharing experiences you can definitely have a better overall experience.
Potentially though there might be one benefit to travelling with a travel buddy and that is being able to share some expenses. Splitting the cost of a hotel room, even if it is slightly more expensive to get two beds, still works out cheaper. Just like splitting the cost of renting a car to explore a little further afield.
In the end, though I think whether you are travelling solo or travelling with a friend, the idea is just to get out and travel. Don’t let this be the thing that holds you back from exploring this great big, wonderful world we live in. There is so much to see and do out there, but you will never have time to see any of it if you wait to find the right person to travel with. While I have spent so much time travelling solo, I have so often not been alone.