Have you ever had a situation when you had to choose to travel alone or not travel at all because your partner or family were not able to take the same time off work, changed their plans at the last minute, or didn’t want to travel to the destination you’ve always dreamt of? Bet that was frustrating, discouraging and disillusioning. But don’t let the lack of a travel companion lock you at home and out of amazing adventures.
Traveling alone is not a disaster. It can actually be pretty fun. You can have more fantastic experiences just because you are all on your own. Some avid travelers even prefer traveling alone to traveling with companions and you may love it too.
Why travel solo?
You may wonder why so many people travel alone and love it. There are many reasons for that: some of them are unique to each individual and others are quite common to us all. In fact, you’ll never know until you try it.
Many solo travelers love the freedom of going anywhere they want and whenever they want, others love being with their own selves or the feeling of growing confidence. There’s more than just being alone when traveling solo, it’s like being one-on-one with the whole world. If you’ve never tried it, you should give solo travel a chance, at least once in your life.
Solo travel benefits
We already mentioned that there are some common benefits of traveling alone. And the most obvious benefit is absolute and complete freedom and control to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Want to relax watching your favorite TV series in your hotel room? No problem. Want to spend the whole day in museums? Go ahead. Hate museums, love shopping? Indulge yourself with no remorse. In other words, do what you want to do, there’s only one person to conform with – that’s you.
You will likely meet a lot of new people on your solo adventures. You may find that approaching complete strangers is easy and they are open to conversations. And you will probably meet more friendly and ready to help people than you expected.
Of course, you will need to plan your travel on your own. And gain, the freedom of a solo traveler will help you cut your expenses. The logic is simple, you may grab great deals when booking airline tickets or a hotel room. It’s also easier to find an award seat when you are using points to book a flight.
Solo travel challenges
No matter how you travel, there can be challenges. Not many of us are used to enjoying their own company and therefore may feel lonely, especially when traveling for an extended period of time. You may want to share moments and experiences with others to fully appreciate them. And you may also lack company at dinnertime as that is our favorite time to socialize.
Even though being independent while traveling alone is great, you may find it exhausting to make every single decision yourself. It can be a torture especially for indecisive people. Plus, if something goes wrong, you’ll be on your own to deal with the situation. This means you should also arm yourself with safety tips and probably some travel safety gear in case you get sick, get lost or stuck.
Another thing that may not be obvious for a solo traveler is that travel expenses may be higher when traveling alone. When you travel with a group or a companion, you share almost all costs. Whereas solo travelers often have to pay more. For example, if you do not like hostels where you share a room with other travelers like you, you will have to pay a single supplement. That means you will have to pay the same price, if not more when you take a room alone, compared to the price for two people sharing the same hotel room.
Solo travel pros and cons wrap-up
Traveling alone comes as with advantages as with disadvantages. Still, they may make it easier for you to take a chance and go exploring the world on your own. You can see the “weak points” of solo travel and work on them to be on the safe side, or you may want to simply give up and quit the whole idea of traveling alone altogether.
Advantages of traveling alone:
– You get to make your own decisions
– You have flexibility with travel plans
– You get more confident as you face situations
– You gain new independence
– You meet people from all over the world and it’s easier to make new friends
– You spend more time with yourself which helps with self-discovery
Disadvantages of traveling alone:
– There are hidden costs like solo travel taxes
– It’s riskier to travel alone
– You may get lost
– You may feel lonely
– No one around to share great moments
– No help when you are stuck
– It’ll be challenging to take solo photos
Despite so many various solo travel pros and cons, they may not always be true for you. It’s up to you to decide what is right for you.
Best destinations for solo travel
When you travel alone, any place you would like to visit will be great. However, when you are just starting your solo adventures, consider joining a group tour. Not a half-day tour, but a multi-day tour where you travel together with complete strangers who may be solo travelers like you.
If solo traveler tours don’t sound enjoyable to you here are some tips on how to pick a suitable destination for your solo travel:
– Relax at beach destinations: Tired of cities and commuting? Indulge yourself in a good self-care trip to a fancy resort in Turkey, Canada, Jamaica or Dominican Republic; or unwind on the beaches of Greek Islands, Cuba, or Portugal.
– Meet new people at destinations with great hostels: Not everyone likes to stay at hostels and share space with strangers. However, many hostels offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, which are quite like basic hotel rooms. You will find various hostel options in places like Berlin, Seoul, and Bali.
– Enjoy seas and oceans: You can see multiple vacation destinations from cities to islands. Just pick your destination (Western Europe, Alaska, Norway, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean) and pack your suitcase. Plus, cruises are easy to plan because cruise vacations package together transportation and accommodations.
Helpful tips for solo travelers
Once you decide on your destination, you’ll need to prepare for your journey. Here are some tips that may help you navigate or even inspire your solo adventure.
Do some research about the destination you are going to and organize the basics. Make sure you know how to get from the airport (or train station, etc.) to the place you’re staying. Research public transport to find the best way to get around and find some cafes or restaurants near the place you are staying. You won’t want to do it when you’ve just arrived and tired after the road.
You will also want to download offline maps of places you are visiting. Plus, don’t forget to mark your map with your accommodation or at least have the address written somewhere in case you get lost.
Have an emergency fund of cash with you and a good reserve of money in your bank account or credit card. Situations may be different and, for example, you may have a medical emergency and will have to pay upfront to get reimbursed later by your travel or medical insurance. This leads to another important thing – travel insurance. If you don’t have it when traveling to a foreign country, medical services can be very expensive.
One more important thing to do is to share your itinerary with a trusted friend or a family member. You may also make a plan to check in with them at certain times during your travel. However, on the other hand, for safety reasons, we would never recommend sharing your real-time location when you post online on Instagram or Facebook. You can always delay posts for several days or share your photos when you get home.
Consider your travel gear as well. Try not to overpack. Remember, you will have to carry all your luggage by yourself. Bring essentials only, you won’t need your whole shoe closet. But make sure you take a mini first-aid kit: band-aids, pain relievers, antihistamines and other medications you may need while traveling.
Once you arrive at your destination, try to be friendly and more open to meeting new people. Mingle with locals or other solo travelers like you. If you are staying at a hostel, you can easily find someone to talk to, in fact, it’s nearly expected to talk with other travelers in common areas.
When you do not like the idea of dining alone see if you can sit at the bar. Bartenders are usually open to small talk and may even recommend local places to eat or activities.
Finally, be flexible with your plans, be spontaneous. You don’t have to stick to your plans, after all, it’s your time, your vacation.
If you wait for your friends or family to travel, you may end up waiting for eternity. Don’t let anyone or anything to hold you back from your adventures. Go and explore the world on your own. Solo vacations can be fantastic. And if you feel a bit lonely or a little bored, push yourself outside your comfort zone and meet new people. It’s your vacation and you can do and be whatever you want.