When we think about traveling, we can create some pretty significant obstacles in our minds. How much does it cost? Do I have enough money for a vacation? Can I take the time off from work? One question that might even make us hesitate the most is “who will go with me?”
Many studies have shown the benefits to travel. Some studies, on the other hand, show there are benefits to being alone. So, when you combine those two and travel solo, you can enjoy some wondrous experiences. Of course, you should also keep some things in mind when deciding to travel solo.
Let’s run down the pros and cons of traveling on your own.
Here are some pros of solo travel:
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of traveling alone is calling all the shots. What do you want to see? Well, then that’s what you go see. There’s no polling of a group, no dickering with a partner. You simply decide what you want to do, and go do it. This can stave off some of the massive stress of travel and itinerary planning within a group.
Have you ever set off in one direction and been delightfully distracted by something you didn’t expect? That’s the thrill of serendipity.
You can find things you never even thought to research just by setting off on your own, keeping your eyes open and your mind flexible. For example, on a west coast road trip from Washington to Oregon, I once saw a national park sign that struck my fancy. I swung onto the exit without thinking twice. I took the most fascinating (albeit cold) tour of a historic lighthouse, which was something I hadn’t done before. I was so glad I did it, it wasn’t anywhere in the plan when I started out, and I didn’t have to consult anyone about it. Serendipity.
Studies show evidence to support the idea that being alone can be beneficial for us. Turns out, the thing that makes the most significant difference is deciding to be alone, rather than being forced to.
So, deciding to travel by ourselves gives us the opportunity for introspection, emotion regulation, and even stave off depression.
Meeting New People
Traveling with a group of folks you are already friendly with often creates a type of social bubble, giving us no reason to explore new friendships. When traveling solo, our social natures lead us to meet and interact with others. This broadens our horizons, exposes us to new cultures, and allows us to become well-rounded, happy humans.
These are some of the pros of traveling solo. In the next part of this post, we’ll talk about some downsides to solo travel. Consider these factors to see if solo travel is or you.
Here are some cons of solo travel:
When traveling solo, you will soon discover the racket that is Double Occupancy Pricing.
A lot of travel pricing is built around the idea that folks travel in pairs, and some businesses won’t even offer a single occupancy price. Look out for this pitfall at hotels and on travel tours or excursions.
But, there are ways that traveling alone could help you cut down on costs. If you’re disciplined with your finances but your travel partners are not, you could end up in some uncomfortable situations. You can share cabs and Ubers with others. When you’re traveling solo, you can stay at hostels which are a fraction of the cost of hotels. So, this is a con to solo travel that might actually even out in the hand. That is if you’re disciplined about your spending and are comfortable in barebones lodging like hostels.
These are the things you don’t think of until you’re in the situation. For instance, you’ve caught the most amazing sunset you’ve ever seen in your life ever. You want to have a souvenir photo with it but there’s no one to take a picture of you.
If you’re comfy with doing a selfie or handing your phone/camera to a stranger to snap a photo, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.
The Solo Man Vs. The Solo Woman Traveler
There’s some sort of weird circuit that trips in people’s brains when they see a solo traveler. And that circuit somehow magnifies the stereotypes we hold.
As women are often unfairly stereotyped as victims, there are more potential risks for a woman who is traveling alone. On the other hand, men are generally unfairly stereotyped as predators. As such, there’s more potential for strangers to treat a man traveling solo as a threat. Plan on taking general safety precautions when traveling alone.
Not Having Anyone to Share Experiences With
Probably the most obvious downside to traveling alone is that, well, you’re alone. You have no one to share those special and often fleeting moments you get when traveling. You gain the experience yourself and have great stories to tell for the rest of your life. But it just might not be the same as going through it with a travel buddy, having deep and enriching conversations comparing and contrasting the same experience.
The benefits of travel are well-documented. Time away is a guaranteed stress buster. New experiences are good for your mind. Furthermore, exposing ourselves to different cultures could improve relationships, increase empathy, and change our quality of life.
When you’re considering traveling solo, take the pros and the cons in stride to enjoy what the world has to offer.