Travel SOS: Should I travel alone?

Some people travel alone because their only other option is to not travel at all, while others set off solo by choice. Today, we share with Louise the pros and cons of travelling alone.

Q. Louise
I’d like to go on a long trip overseas, but I’m not sure if I know anyone who’d make a good travel buddy. I’m trying to figure out whether I can go it alone – can you help me?

A. Whichever way you look at it travelling alone is scary. A new country can be difficult enough to handle with your family or best friend by your side, let alone flying solo.

Read more: Solo travel conversation starters

By its very nature solo travel is challenging; it can also be the making of people and one of the few experiences that can change your life and set you off down a very different path. Some people travel alone because the option is to not travel at all and others set off solo by choice. So what are the pros and cons of travelling alone?

Pros:

  • You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Not interested in looking at abstract items considered art? No need to just because your travelling companion is.
  • You can have as much or little downtime as you like. Unless you’re leaping out of bed at 7am to seize the day, no-one else will be dragging you from your dreams.
  • You’re more likely to meet people than when you’re travelling with a friend or family. Individuals are much less intimidating to approach.
  • You don’t have to work around someone else’s budget. My mum tells a hilarious story about travelling with a friend who was on a bread roll budget and kept helping herself to her lunches and dinners.
  • You can fly at the times that suit you on the airline that you want to and choose the transfers that work best for you. Ditto if you’re going by train/bus, etc.
  • You are more open to new experiences and culture as you walk around, eat and drink without having to focus on engaging with your travel companion.
  • In the end it’s much more likely you will have a realistic experience of what it’s like to live like a local.

looking at paris from afar

Read more: Cruising for solo travellers

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive. Regardless of how you come at it, travelling with a companion or group often means shared accommodation, transport and food costs.
  • There’s no-one to help put sunscreen on your back. No-one likes ending up with awkward finger marks from where they’ve tried and failed to reach the middle of their back with the sunscreen.
  • It can be intimidating and downright unsafe at some times, particularly for women in some countries.
  • Catching cabs alone is an expensive exercise, which some solo travellers choose as a means of feeling safer – particularly at night.
  • Dining alone can be uncomfortable and some solo travellers may avoid it altogether – thus missing out on one of the main joys of travelling.
  • It can get lonely, particularly if you are in a country where you don’t speak the local language and don’t have a companion to interact with daily.
  • There’s no-one to help carry your bags, or take photos with or for you, meaning you may need to resort to a selfie stick – which is enough to put you off ever travelling alone again!

Having travelled both solo and with my family, friend(s), work colleagues and in a group, it’s safe to say a combination of both solo and non-solo trips is the best of both worlds and ensures you get the benefits of every type of travel.

Read more: Solo traveller safety

What do you think when it comes to the solo travel debate? Are you all for flying solo or do you prefer a partner in crime by your side?

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