Traveling is seriously one of my most treasured activities. I love it so much that I have spent a good amount of money on travel. It has also helped me realize that my favorite part of my beloved adopted city of Los Angeles is the airport.
Most of my travels, however, have been done unaccompanied and after traveling to about 40 countries I have come to realize that going at it alone has some pros and cons.
Without further ado, I have listed some pros and cons I have come to realize about solo travel after traveling to 40 countries.
Pros Of Traveling Solo
1. You get to do whatever you want without compromise.
One of my favorite things about solo travel is that you don’t have to negotiate or compromise doing anything you don’t want to do.
Do you want to start your day late? Fine! Do you want to go to this museum? Just walk right in. When traveling solo, you don’t have to bicker and argue with anyone else about what you want to do or where you intend to go for the day. You essentially set your own schedule and do what you want.
2. There is ample time for self-reflection.
As a result of all the free time you have to yourself, you get to reflect on your life’s purpose and really dig deep into whatever issues bother you.
There is no one to bother you or interrupt your day because you are traveling solo. I personally use my time traveling solo to find quiet spots in whatever city I am traveling and meditate or contemplate my existence.
3. It is easier to meet people as a solo traveler
My motto when I travel solo is “Extrovert or die of loneliness”. When you are traveling alone, you are motivated by the fear of loneliness to put yourself out there and meet other people.
It is either that or a significant period where you would be completely alone. When traveling solo and I begin to feel “loneliness creep”, I feel even more motivated to step out of my comfort zone and start a conversation with someone that I maybe previously wouldn’t have started if I was with a group.
4. You get to set your own budget for your trip
There is no pressure to over or under spend because you are trying to match the budget of a group or traveling companion. You spend whatever you feel comfortable with and enjoy the benefits of doing so.
Traveling with a rich friend could leave you feeling jealous of all the extra stuff they can afford while traveling with a poorer friend could make you feel guilty that you keep on buying stuff they cannot afford. Traveling solo eliminates all of these feelings.
Cons Of Traveling Solo
If you are not used to being alone then you are in for a real shocker, traveling solo especially to a new environment where you don’t know anyone can be really trying because you spend a lot of time by yourself.
If you are a gregarious person who is used to being by surrounded by people, it can be really trying because the new people you are trying to connect with might reject you and not want to make friends with you.
This happened to me when I visited Lithuania. The locals had an aversion for foreigners because of a history of being invaded by other nationalities so I spent almost two weeks in the country completely by myself. It was agonizing, to say the least.
2. You have to deal with emergencies alone
In the event that you encounter a negative event, you might find yourself incapable of properly dealing with the situation especially if, for some reason, you become incapacitated. This happened to me in Malaysia, where I was on assignment as an expatriate. A horrendous blow to the back of my head by an assailant left me unconscious.
Had it not been for the help of a good Samaritan, goodness knows what would have become of me. If I was with a group, they would have definitely come to my rescue and help fight off the assailants.
3. No One To Share Moments With.
When traveling with a group, you can have reunions based on a travel experience you had together. I will be having a yacht week Croatia reunion with a couple of yacht week alumni sometime in November.
When you travel solo the unique moments that define your trip are not shared with anyone. While they still make up a significant part of your memory bank, they only way you can share it with friends is through story-telling.
4. No One To Take Your Picture
You find that perfect pose and perfect location, unfortunately, there is no one there with you to take your picture. If the locals are rude or unfriendly, you might find it difficult to convince anyone to give up their time to take your picture.
Even worse, nefarious locals could very well pilfer your camera and lead you to a pursuit on foot.
Traveling is one of the most enriching endeavors one could ever embark on. How you decide to embark on those travels is totally up to you as an individual.
I personally find solo travel a lot more rewarding than group travel. However, I would be lying if I said there haven’t been times when I wished there was a buddy or two to have my back once things turned sour for me while on the road.
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