Updated: Aug 10
Thinking of booking a solo ticket but not 100% sure? Here are a list of pros and cons to help you decide whether travelling alone is for you.
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Here in the UK where we love to complain about the British weather, hearing that travel restrictions are being lifted and knowing that the world is opening up to travellers again has been music to our ears. Going abroad has never been more appealing!
But what if you don't have a travel buddy to accompany you? For those of you who have never travelled alone before, I understand that the thought can be quite daunting. I definitely felt my heart thumping out of my chest when I booked my first solo flight to the Philippines! A moment of panic had hit me - is it safe? Will I get lonely? What if I get stuck on a remote island and have to eat bamboo sticks for the rest of my life?!
After coming out the other end of my backpacking journey, I've learned that as long as you do your research on how to get from A-Z, where to stay and how to meet people, travelling alone can be an incredibly rewarding experience and doesn't have to be as stressful as you may think.
If you're taking the time to read this article, solo travelling is probably something you're intrigued about - check out the pros and cons below to see whether it is for you :)
Pro: Freedom to do whatever the f*ck you want
As much as we love our friends and family, we’re all different and don't always agree on the same places we want to see and things we want to do. Sometimes travelling with them means having to compromise, however big or small.
Wouldn't it be lovely to ditch them for a while, and do things how you want to do them? How liberating would it be to go anywhere you want, do whatever you like, for however long you wish? Even if all you want to do is sleep at the beach or watch Netflix in your hotel room - the choice is yours and no one is there to judge you!
Con: Can get lonely sometimes
Imagine hiking up a big ass mountain and when you finally get to the top you have no one there to high-five... not being able to share every exciting or funny moment with someone whilst travelling can sometimes make the experience feel not as joyful.
Unless you're a mega introvert who hates being around all human beings, travelling solo will for sure have its lonely moments, especially when you feel like you're missing out on special things happening with your loved ones back home. There are times where you might start feeling like your holiday is an isolating experience - which is definitely something you should be aware of before deciding to travel alone. With family and friends not being physically around to comfort you, there will be days where you will have to try and find peace in your own company.
Pro: You make more effort with new people
If you don't want to feel lonely whilst travelling, then it's time to activate your inner extravert and put yourself out there. It's all too easy to stick to your travel companion when you're travelling in pairs and not feel the need to socialise with anyone new (this person knows me so well, why bother getting to know other people?). But meeting new people is one of the best parts about travelling!
Travelling solo means you'll actively start making conversations with everyone you meet, potentially hearing interesting stories from people all over the world. It is natural to become more humble as you see what a tiny place you occupy on the planet, crossing paths with people who live such a different life to yours. Other solo travellers will also be drawn to you, and you may even decide to continue some of your travels together.
Con: Friendships don’t last long
However, talking to new people and forming new friendships so often can also become quite tiring - sometimes you'll just want to be around close friends who know at least the basic things about you, so you don't have to repeat yourself for the zillionth time... ergh.
As you bounce from place to place, you'll find that the friendships you create are very intense as you'll be in each other's space for days or even weeks. These connections will feel strong but the relationships that you form will most likely be short and sweet. You'll follow each other on social media after parting ways, and over time you'll only hear about each other's lives via Instagram posts.
Pro: Everyday is an adventure
You're never bored! For all you thrill-seekers out there, you'll find waking up alone in a strange town or village which you aren't familiar with to be one of the most exciting feelings you'll ever experience. The world is your oyster - each day will not be the same as the last, you are surrounded by adventure with new sights to see, new faces to talk to and new foods to eat #yum.
Travelling with a friend, family member or partner can make the adventure feel less thrilling as you'll tend to rely on them for that sense of safety and familiarity, whilst being alone means you'll take the time to get to know locals and immerse in culture instead of hanging out with someone you already know. If you like a spontaneous lifestyle where you know you can up and go wherever you please without needing anyone by your side, then travelling solo is a great choice for you.
Con: Fear of not knowing what to expect
Let's be real, diving into the unknown without a companion is exciting but undoubtedly scary too, even for all the dare devils out there. Travelling to a foreign country can be stressful as a solo traveler, especially if problems arise and no one around you speaks your language… yikes.
The fear of having to deal with these situations might be too overwhelming for some people. If you don’t feel like you’re up for a new self-discovery or solving problems on your own, and would much rather stick with someone you know on your travels for a sense of security, then you should consider whether travelling solo is right for you.
Pro: You will become more confident
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited of what could go right” – Tony Robbins
The awesome thing about travelling solo is that it really does boost your self-confidence! I have certainly been guilty of relying on others to plan trips in the past, without contributing any type of help #sorrynotsorry. I've always been a go with the flow kinda gal and banked on others to work out all of the logistics. But travelling solo had forced me to get out of my comfort zone and really hurdle each obstacle on my own, because I didn't have the choice not to.
With nobody immediately there to help you out when you've lost your way, or when you've frantically had to sort out a plan B because your accommodation is full of cockroaches (yep, true story), it is easy to feel annoyed or stressed during those times. However, these inconveniences do boosts your self-confidence in the long-run as you will see how tough and capable you are at resolving problems alone. By the end of your trip, you'll be bringing back home a braver version of you - hurrah!
Con: Having to be super conscious of your spending
Not being mindful of your spending when travelling alone for a long period can for sure burn a hole in your wallet over time. This can suck when you're visiting food markets and you can't share food with someone else - filling up your belly with one dish is lame when you would rather try a variety of things with your monies. A food sharing buddy always makes eating more fun, and certainly makes things cheaper!
To avoid overspending, budgeting might mean having to lower your accommodation standards, where shared hostel rooms will likely be an option for solo travellers. So if you're a light sleeper, you may get a crappy sleep quality if you're lumped in a room with inconsiderate people. Also staying in a hostel room full of strangers means you don't get the luxury of walking around butt naked as you would in a private room (unless you're totally fine with doing a full monty, of course).
Pro: You have the time to truly find yourself
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” – J.R.R. Tolkien
We’re living in a fast-paced world where we’re always rushing to finish our daily tasks, which can make it easy to dismiss some of the more important things in life. Sometimes you need to take some much needed time off for yourself, for you and only you. By going on a solo trip, you won't have anybody to distract you, and can fully focus on things that are important to you.
When you invest in travel, you are investing in yourself. No amount of text books can teach you what you learn from exploring the world on your own, and travelling solo allows you to become so many different versions of yourself. It is the best way to be lost and found at the same time - you're confused and unfolding your soul all at once.
There is nothing like having all that time to yourself in a foreign land to clear your mind and learn all about the inner you, the one that was in there all along. You'll realise that you are your best company, and will wonder why you were ever so afraid to be alone before.
Whether it be a weekend or a whole year, I think everyone should experience travelling solo at least once. If you're still on the fence about booking that solo flight - my advice is DO IT! ;)
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind” – Anthony Bourdain
What are your thoughts on travelling solo?
You can find me on instagram @mindfulmonkay :)