If I had a penny for every article I have read recently about how amazing it is to travel solo, I would be a very rich woman. Well, I would at least have enough to pay for a Tinder upgrade and find myself a hot travel buddy.
All this talk about how incredible it is to travel solo and how ‘everyone should do it at least once it their lives’ is such a load of recycled rubbish. Sure, traveling by yourself can be amazing sometimes and there are certainly benefits do doing it at least once, but it’s about time someone laid down the facts about what it’s really like to travel by yourself. Solo. Alone. With no friends. Not even one.
Here are 9 good reasons why you should do whatever you can not to travel solo on your next trip. For the love of God, find yourself a travel buddy. An acquaintance. A lover. Anyone who will turn your solo adventure into a trip to remember and one you can share and reminisce on in years to come.
9. Solo travel is expensive.
When you are traveling by yourself, everything is suddenly so much more expensive. There’s no one to share that expensive taxi ride with you. No one to rent that car with. There’s no one to split the costs of a hotel room. Many tour groups actually penalize you for being alone, and force you to pay humiliating ‘single supplements’.
8. Eating alone is depressing
Would you go to a restaurant back home by yourself? Didn’t think so. Trying to find restaurants where people won’t judge you for being alone is an absolute pain. You either sit in a nice place nervously, wishing your food would arrive faster so you can leave quicker, or you succumb to only eating at crap fast food joints so people won’t have enough time to see you eating alone. Half the enjoyment of eating out is sharing a meal with others, tasting their food and enjoying some good conversation. Eating alone sucks.
7. An album full of selfies
Anyone who has travel led alone even once is sure to have mastered the art of the travel selfie. But there really are only so many angles you can take of your gigantic face with the Pyramids, Great Wall of China or the Eiffel Tower in the background. Continually having to ask strangers to take your photo while you stand alone and pose can get tiring pretty fast, and you also risk your camera or phone getting stolen each and every time you hand it over.
6. Traveling alone can be dangerous
When you travel alone, you are taking a risk. You will always be an easy target and will, sadly, might even have some really horrible experiences. You won’t have a buddy to fall back on. You will have to defend yourself. There will be no one to help when your wallet gets stolen in Barcelona with all your money and cards or when your bags get taken after you have fallen asleep on a 12 hour bus ride across Northern Vietnam.
5. It’s hard to make friends
Have you ever walked up to a group of people in a bar and tried to make friends with them? It’s hard, right? They will most likely smile and then turn away. Making friends while traveling can be really difficult and leave you feeling drained at the end of each day and with a horrible feeling each time you wake up and know you have to do it all over again. Sure some people are nice and you will find some like-minded people in hostels and in bars on nights out, but those people move on or fly home and leave you right where they left you, looking for new friends.
4. Solo travel is boring
Unless you are a seriously introverted person who likes to hang out by yourself all day back home, solo travel can get boring. Quickly. There are only so many museums you can visit by yourself, books your can read and activities you can do before you start to wish, “Man, I seriously wish I had a friend to do this with”. Cycling around a city by yourself? Boring. Doing a sightseeing tour by yourself? Boring? Even mad bucket list activities like skydiving or shark cage diving are a million times better if you have someone to share the adrenaline rush with.
3. You will question all your life choices.
Spending a little bit of time alone is great. Spend too much time alone and suddenly your mind starts to fill with endless thoughts about life choices, your career, past relationships and what direction your life is going. The smallest things, like seeing kids laughing or watching the sunset, can trigger a waterfall of emotions. A little bit of deep thought never hurt anyone, but it can get too much when you become overrun with emotion throughout your trip.
2. It’s harder to laugh off the small things
When you travel with a friend or a group, it is so easy to laugh off the small things such as missing your train or getting extreme diarrhea or getting scammed into buying tickets for a bus that does not exist. When you are alone, these problems become magnified and, at times, make you want to cry, scream or even pack your bags and fly home.
1. You have no one to share your memories with
Even your friends and family back home, who I’m sure love you dearly, will only be able to cope with 2-3 days max of your endless travel tales. They get it. You spent some time abroad. You met some Maasai warriors. You ate a rat. After one week max, they won’t want to hear about it. If you have traveled with others, you can spend as long as you like reminiscing about that crazy boat ride in Laos or those dodgy milkshakes in Bali. You will always have that bond between you, and it is an incredible bond to have.
Authors note: I have had many, many positive solo travel experiences. I think everyone, and I mean everyone, should take a solo trip at least once in their life. It will shape your personality, give you confidence and help increase self-esteem. This post is simply a reflective piece on 10 years of solo travel.