I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I get lonely when I travel on my own. The honest answer is “Yes, of course I do”.
But whilst there are negatives to travelling alone, there are definite benefits too. So here are five negative & positive points that I have found when travelling both on my own and with others:
Five negatives of travelling alone
I usually don’t have issues with travelling on my own because I am lucky enough to be one of those people who like their own company and enjoy being alone. But there are times when travelling that I do think it would be nice to have someone alone with you.
You don’t have anyone to share experiences with:
One downside is that after a day of sightseeing etc, you can’t turn to your travel companion and say “wasn’t that amazing when we saw …?” or “How much fun was that moment when …?”
Sure you get to see the same things, but sometimes having someone to share it with can also be part of the experience. Part of the fun is remembering random moments that happened on your travels; like chatting away to the cops in London with my sister or that bloody funny photo with my nieces at Teddy’s Burgers in Waikiki.
Then there is the awkward moment when you walk into a restaurant and request a table for one. Beverley over at Pack Your Passport faced this issue on a recent trip to Copenhagen. I have no problem going to breakfast or lunch on my own but for some reason, going out to dinner seems to cause me all kinds of angst.
To selfie or not to selfie
The eternal question solo travellers face: do you risk looking like an idiot and take a selfie or do you risk having your camera stolen by asking complete strangers to take your photo for you. Then there are the times you do go the selfie route and post said photo only for people to comment on how it’s not centered etc. As a result most of the photos I take are without me in them so it looks like I’m not even there and have just pinched the photo off the internet from someone else’s travels. (I have never done that fyi!!)
Travel can cost more when solo
This can be especially true for accommodation. You are usually paying for the room so if you are the only person travelling then you cop the cost for the whole amount instead of being able to share it. This can also happen if you are hiring a car etc.
Security & Safety
Yes, it can be a little daunting being a solo female traveller. You don’t have the benefit and comfort of safety in numbers. As a result, I will rarely venture out at night time when I am travelling. Some places I do feel comfortable doing this, London for one but there are definitely places I would never do it if I am travelling alone.
Five positives of travelling alone
Travelling alone doesn’t need to be a sad or lonely experience; it can also be rewarding, challenging, and eye-opening.
There is only you travelling so you can pretty much go whenever you please (obviously taking work commitments into consideration). Basically I don’t have to wait for school holidays to travel because I don’t have kids; my work is pretty flexible and I’ve been able to go at most times of the year and other than saving the money, nothing is really holding me back commitment wise. Hence the reason I am able to say “Right, London for Christmas it is!”
Along with flexibility comes freedom. If you travel solo, you don’t really have to worry about someone else’s plans. You can go to the destinations that you want to go to without worrying about upsetting someone else. You can have a ‘day at home’ if you want and just veg and watch the local telly or catch up on news from home. There is definitely a freedom to travelling on your own that you don’t necessarily get when travelling with others.
Another perk of travelling alone is that sometimes it’s easier to get one ticket to an almost sold out show, than 2 or more tickets. If there is only one of you then waiting to get into venues can also be a quicker process than if you’re in a group.
Travel can cost less
Despite saying above that it can sometimes cost more, the opposite is also true. After all there is only me so I only have to pay for one airfare, instead of four like my married friend with two kids does. I only have to pay for one entrance fee to places. It’s sometimes easier to accommodate one person than a group.
We all have a comfort zone, so to travel on your own to the other side of the world (or even to another city in your own country) can really challenge you. Suddenly you are the only person you can rely on – which isn’t a bad thing. Travelling on your own will force you to get out of your comfort zone, it will make you interact with people and cultures that you might never have done if you were with friends. You find yourself if situations that you might not normally be in.
When travelling I try to incorporate both solo travel and travel with friends/family because I think it gives me the best of both worlds. I like to be able to share moments with people but at the same time I like to travel at my own pace – which is usually slower than other peoples!
I certainly don’t think that one way is better than the other. I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to travel. I do think that if you are learning and gaining knowledge from your experiences, then it doesn’t matter if you do that solo or together with others.
For me personally? Yeah I prefer solo travel.