Solo travel has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article we will talk about 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages of traveling solo. By the end you will have a better idea of what to expect the next time you go off on your own.
The advantages of solo travel are freedom, a learning experience, confidence, new friends, and disconnecting. The disadvantages of solo travel are safety concerns, stress, no split expenses, rough days, and keeping habits.
Solo Travel Advantages
Solo travel can be a great experience. It gives you the freedom to do what you want when you want. As well as, a great learning experience. You will gain more confidence in yourself, and make new friends along the way. Lastly, solo travel is a great way to disconnect.
How many times have you planned to leave at a certain but end up leaving way behind schedule? Whether you’re the person waiting on someone or you’re the person taking there time, solo travel gives you the freedom to go at your own pace. I love being able to set an alarm and be out the door within 10 minutes without having to think about anything or anyone else. The day before I set a plan on the things I want to do. For example, today I will be at the Union Station in Denver, Colorado drinking a nitro cold brew typing blog articles for multiple hours.
Solo travel can be the best learning experience. You discover what your strengths and weaknesses are. In an unfamiliar setting you find out what parts of your personality will help or hinder you. What I discovered while solo traveling are the infinite number of perspectives. Each person you meet grew up in a completely different situation. When we are in the comfort of familiarity it is easy to think our perspective is the ultimate. It is wise to solo travel with an open mind. You will be surprised what you can learn when you ask questions.
One of the biggest personality improvements I have noticed in myself while solo traveling is confidence. Solo travel will force you to break out of your shell. For about the first month of solo travel I would overthink everything because everyone reacted differently. It comes back to the different perspectives. There are people who talk very straightforward and to the point which can come off as aggressive, and there are people who talk very passive. Solo travel has made me more confident when I speak. Not being afraid to ask a question that may sound offensive, or speak my mind when I hear something not true.
Not only have I become more confident in my communication, but also my problem solving and decision making. It takes less time for me to make a decision. There are still times where I second guess my decision, but moving onto the next is quicker. The decision was made, handle the consequences and move onto the next decision. The only way to go is forward. Keep moving forward.
Traveling with family and friends you already have someone to talk to. You don’t have to face the discomfort of sparking up a conversation with a stranger. While you are solo traveling you meet new people, exchange stories, and learn about different places. It can get quite lonely if you don’t make the effort to meet new people. You never know, a simple “Hello, what is your name?” can lead to you having a place to stay when visiting their home location!
Solo travel can be a great way to disconnect for a while and discover what you enjoy. When I began my travels I wanted to record everything and post it to the internet. I realized, I was more focused with what was going on online then what was right in front of my face. Disconnecting for a while I gained back the time I was losing each day while being online. With all this free time I discovered that I enjoy writing. This came as a surprise because in high school english class was my nap time. Use solo travel as a way to disconnect and find what you truly enjoy doing.
Solo Travel Disadvantages
Although I am an advocate for solo travel, there are some disadvantages to be aware of. The disadvantages of solo travel are safety, stress, no splitting expenses, who to talk to on rough days, and keeping habits.
While solo traveling it is just you. When you are in an unfamiliar area and look lost you can become a target. Especially if you have a suitcase and backpack, that is a dead giveaway you are not a local. I would suggest researching the area you are traveling to know what areas are safe and not so safe. Walk with purpose, and try not to walk around holding your phone out following google maps. If you stay at hostels make friends with other travelers and go out together. Although I haven’t encountered any sticky situations yet doesn’t mean they can’t happen. You want to be aware, and still enjoy the travel.
Where are you going to eat? How will you get to where you’r going? Where are you going to stay? These are all your responsibility, and can be stressful at times. Sometimes stuff that goes not as planned can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. This can both be an advantage and disadvantage depending on how you react to stress.
No Splitting Expenses
If you travel with other people you can break up expenses amongst the group. When you solo travel you pay for everything. Try to meet other people along your travels and share. They may also know cheaper alternatives to what you had planned. I wrote an article about how to navigate the hostel world which is a cheap alternative to staying in hotels.
There will be moments throughout your travel when you feel homesick, or just exhausted. All your friends and family are many miles away, and you just want to talk to someone. It has become easier with technology to communicate with people long distance, but even a Skype call doesn’t always help. Keep in mind that every rough day turns into a new day eventually. Use these rough days to do more self-exploration. When you make friends along the way, they are probably going through similar emotions as you and can be a great outlet.
Meditation is a habit that has helped me get through tough mental times. A website I love to use for a quick meditation when I have a lot on my mind is Synctuition. There are three free audio recordings that you can play over and over, and if you want more options you can pay for their membership. Also, there are many free guided meditations on YouTube.
Keeping habits isn’t specific to solo travel, but can be difficult when traveling in general. There is a lot going on when traveling and your daily gym habit may change. Find other ways to stay active such as walking instead of ubering, doing bodyweight exercises, get creative. There is no one to keep you accountable with your habits. Do your best to find alternatives, and keep an open mind.
Most disadvantages can be seen as advantages. In the beginning, solo travel can feel overwhelming. The more you are exposed to the unfamiliar the more familiar they become. You learn what works and what doesn’t, what you enjoy and don’t enjoy. Solo travel is an amazing life experience that frankly most of the population is afraid to take. My goal of the article was to spark your interest in taking a chance at solo travel. If you have more questions feel free to reach out!
Keep moving forward,