Travelling solo, or with a partner, is a much discussed topic. Some say you can only enoy travelling when you have someone to share with, others would never even think about giving up the freedom of travelling alone.
Unfortunately, the lack of a travel partner is still a common reason why people won’t fulfill their dream of travelling the world. The imagination of beeing on your own in a foreign country IS scary, to be honest. What if you get sick and nobody is around to help? What if you don’t get to meet new people? Somehow the benefits are less popular. How much you can grow from this experience. If you are friendly and open-minded, you don’t need to worry at all.
Anyways, I will try to give an unbiased and honest comparison.
Advantages of travelling solo:
- Flexibility: You can do whatever you want, whenver you want. You don’t need to discuss anything with anyone. The feeling of freedom is the greatest when travelling solo. Feel like going to the beach and read that thrilling book? Fine! Feel like not getting out of your bed today? Fine! Feel like skipping New Zealand, because you actually want to go back to Asia after Australia? Fine!
- You will meet more people: Single persons tend to get spoken to more often than groups. Imagine it yourself. Would you rather walk up to the guys deepened in a conversation or to the lonely guy looking outside the window? Also, you are somehow forced to overcome your own (probably existing) fears, since nobody wants to be on his/her own forever. On top of that, most locals are more sociable and open-minded once you leave the western countries.
- No discussions about money: You will hardly find someone with the same budget as you. At best you have the same expectations and are both willing to spend some extra money every now and then. Like taking a taxi after a long hike, instead of waiting for the bus. At worst you end up arguing about the entrace fee of that temple you are so eager to see.
- Personal growth: Your partner will always somehow distract you from yourself. It’s the same with our everyday occupations. It keeps your mind busy. If you only need to take care of yourself your mind is free. You can reflect on your life without distraction. You can discover what makes you happy. You can discover who you really are. You can get into peace with yourself. Of course you can do the same when you are still at home or travelling with a partner. But the temptation to concentrate on something else is always present. Especially nowadays with social media and all that stuff. No matter how fast you run, you will never completly catch up. There is just too much going on. Like an infinite loop.
Disadvantages of travelling solo:
- You have nobody to share with: You will always find someone to talk with, but they will never fully understand how that situation felt. They were not there with you, at that moment. Also, they experienced a lot of beautifull moments themselves. So the interest in your stories is probably not really satisfying. Like you meet an old friend from school. You talk about all the funny moments you shared, and have a great time. Another person, sitting together with you, might get bored after some time, since he/she didn’t witness your experiences. That feeling is horrible, when you have so much gorgeous memories, but nobody can relate to it or simply doesn’t care.
- You have to do everything on your own: Some examples: You are at a train station. There is a massive queue in front of you. Temperature is 38° C. When you are with a partner, one takes care of the backpacks, the other goes to queue up. When you’re on your own the sun will become friends with your backpack and have fun torturing you; You are sick and need to stay in your bed. When you are with a partner, he can take care of you. When you are on your own, well, then you are screwed.
- Higher risk of crime: Especially for women. Usually criminals need an opportunity, and go for the easiest target. Your backpack makes you an easy target. They are usually heavy and bulkily. 2 guys, even without weapons, won’t be afraid to go for you. Going for a group of backpackers is another story.
- You pay more: Prices for double rooms are sometimes the same as for single rooms, but never a lot higher. If you take a taxi you pay half the price. If you book a guide you pay half the price.
Going into remote areas/countries
That can be really hard, especially if you are an extrovert person. Once you get away from the tourism hotspots you might feel like all the other travellers you saw last week took their flight back home today. Also local´s ability to speak english will decrease. It’s not unlikely that you have nobody to talk with for several days.
To prevent you from feeling lonely you can book a guide or tour, if available. Another way is to look for travel partners before you go into remote areas. Great locations to find travel partners are hostels (dorm, shared kitchen), schools (diving or language), or while you are on the train/bus. Especially the last one, since they are already heading in the same direction. They might aswell have the same plans as you.
- Going with someone you know from the internet: An option for those that want to travel with a partner, but have nobody in their circle of friends who wants to do it. It might lead to a new best friend, but it can go horribly wrong aswell. My urgent recommendation is to meet the person personally atleast once. Everybody can pretend on the internet. Also make sure that both are willing to travel alone, if you can’t get along anymore at some point. Nothing is worse than to be to stuck with someone you don’t like. You actually want to travel solo, but the other person is to afraid. If you get rid of him/her you are bothered by your sore conscience.
- Bigger groups: On a long-term travel bigger groups just cause difficulties. Finding a satisfying compromise is hard enough for just 2 travellers. Now imagine the same if you are a group of 4 or even more. Don’t get me wrong, if you are 3 BFFs and that’s your dream since childhood, go for it! If not, the problems will outweight the advantages by far.
There ain’t no surer to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
– Mark Twain
As always you are very welcome to share your additions/suggestions/oppinions in the comments!
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