The first time I boarded a plane for a trip without parents or chaperones was shortly after my 18th birthday. Granted, I was traveling to see friends and family in Pennsylvania, but that was the first time I was able to travel totally on my own terms.
Since this first trip, my trips have become a bit more daring. I went on a few small trips around the States by myself, then I spent some time alone in Rome after the rest of my group left. Most recently, I jetted off to Chiang Mai, Thailand for my first major solo trip.
I’ve traveled with my family, with my friends, as part of a study abroad group and on my own. Each trip I’ve taken has been unique, but the type of company I have on each has really made a difference. Throughout my travels, I’ve come up with of several pros and cons of traveling alone.
There is no right or wrong way to travel, but here are a few drawbacks and benefits of solo travel that you should consider before taking your first trip alone.
The Pros of Traveling Alone
Traveling alone is amazing, but it is not for everybody. It requires a bit of independence and confidence, but the benefits of solo travel are unmatched.
Let’s talk about some of the best parts of traveling alone.
The ability to do whatever you want is pretty amazing. You choose where you go, where you sleep, what you eat and anything else you do. When you travel alone, you’re totally in control.
I really like this aspect because I am naturally super independent. I don’t like people telling me what to do, so when I’m on the other side of the world by myself, I truly have nobody to answer to.
Solo travel requires a ton of confidence. If you aren’t the most confident to begin with, you’ll likely experience some degree of shift. It’s a survival of the fittest situation.
I know that sounds harsh, but if you want to thrive on a trip by yourself, you will be forced outside of your comfort zone.
You’ll have to ask strangers for help, whether it’s with carrying your luggage or finding a convenience store. You’ll have to mutter a few words in a foreign language to get where you’re going at some point or another. Honestly, you may have to adopt a different culture for a little bit.
When you accomplish these little things, you will feel 100x more confident than before.
Spending time with yourself is so important. It gives you the opportunity to do a lot of reflection. You get to know yourself in a way that you’ve never experienced before.
You’d be surprised how much you learn about yourself during long periods of silence.
Traveling solo is definitely a feat. Getting yourself on that plane by yourself is something to be proud of.
Over the course of your trip—even if it’s just a week long—you’ll probably notice that your confidence and independence is greater than when you left your home.
You’ll also find out a lot about what you like and don’t like. Maybe the alone time teaches you that you’d prefer more down time. Or maybe a wild bungee jumping experience will teach you that you’re an adrenaline junky.
Solo travel requires a lot of putting yourself out there, and that alone will help you grow as a person.
The Cons of Traveling Alone
Solo travel has tons of perks, but there are also some downsides to consider before planning your trip by yourself.
Here’s what you need to know!
When you travel alone, all travel expenses are on you. There is no splitting accommodation costs, groceries, taxis, etc.
If you make an effort to find deals on accommodations and such, this won’t be as hard on your wallet. However, if you plan on staying at super fancy hotels, things may get a bit expensive.
It Gets Lonely
As I mentioned before, the alone time is one of the greatest benefits of solo travel. However, you will get lonely if you don’t put yourself out there to make friends.
If you are confident enough to introduce yourself to strangers and insert yourself into social situations, then this may not be an issue for you.
When you travel alone, you’re responsible for everything. You have to plan every detail, and you have to make sure all of the details are correct.
Knowing bus numbers, train times, airline info, reservation details and the like all falls into your hands. This can get a little overwhelming, especially if you have several destinations on a trip.
Before my first solo trip, so many people warned me that I was going to be robbed, killed or taken advantage of. These words were definitely discouraging.
I’m not here to say that you will die if you travel by yourself. I just want to make the point that you have to be more cautious when you’re on your own because you’re the only one there to watch your back.
The only time that this has really been an issue for me was when it came to going out alone or drinking. I am not much of a drinker, but I am a light weight. I don’t drink at all when I’m alone because there is nobody there to make sure I’m okay. However, not drinking saves me a ton of money so I could probably add this to the “pro” column.
Okay so this is super silly, but one of the saddest parts for Instagram lovers like me is not having anybody to take pictures for me. Even if you aren’t big on social media, it is still nice to have photos to go with your memories.
Of course you can ask people to take pictures of you, but there is no guarantee that they will turn out how you want them to. Obviously, I wouldn’t let this con hold me back from traveling alone, but it is an annoying aspect.
Taking the Plunge to Travel Alone
As you can see, there are quite a few pros and cons of traveling alone. However, I don’t think any of the cons are bad enough to outweigh the benefits of solo travel.
I do enjoy traveling with a group, but traveling alone is an experience like no other. Even if you take a solo trip and realize it’s not for you, you will be proud of the confidence you had to make an experience like that happen.
So, what do you think? Is traveling alone an option for you?