I am often asked “How can you travel alone?” or am told “your so brave to go alone, I could never do that”
So I thought id write a quick article about the pros and cons of travelling alone, and how anyone can do it.
Like anything there are things about travelling on my own that I love and things I’m not so keen on. The same can be said if travelling on a tour or with friends
Lets start with the pros:
Travelling alone means you are the boss. You are in charge. When you want to do something then dammit you can go and do it. If you get bored somewhere then just move on. If you want a lazy day doing nothing except reading a book or watching TV then awesome, go for it.
My point is you can do what you want when you want (within reason) and you don’t have to think of anyone else. It may sound selfish but this sort of freedom is one of the real draws of travelling for me.
Nothing helps your self confidence than being alone and needing to do everything for yourself. Cooking all your food, booking all your accommodation or travel. Planning your trip for yourself. You suddenly realise how capable you really are.
3) Getting to know yourself
Spending so much time alone you learn a lot about the person you are. It allows you to process your own thoughts. I’ve also found that since travelling I enjoy journeys a lot more. I don’t tend to get bored anymore as I can entertain myself. I’ve been able to make monumental decisions and plans from just being by myself for a while.
4) Meeting people
When your travelling alone all the emphasis is on you to meet people. You have no safety blanket of that group of friends or partner you are normally with. If you want company then you have to go and find it. I’ve met so many interesting people and had some fantastically random nights just from speaking to someone when I wanted company.
Now for a few of the draw backs.
Travelling alone can become very lonely. You may struggle to meet people or have someone there when you need them. I remember getting to Melbourne and learning my Dog had died back home. I hadn’t met anyone yet but all I needed was a hug. That was difficult.
Now I have people who I can reminisce with about my trips. The trouble? They are all over the world. Ill occasionally meet up with people I met on my trips and have a great walk down memory lane, but these are few and far between. When you have experienced some great things alone, you often have to rely on your own memory when wanting this nostalgia.
We all need a swift kick up the backside sometimes. When travelling alone, you are the person who needs to be both wielding and receiving the boot. This isn’t easy at all. When I’ve been travelling in a group and I’ve been struggling my friends provided the motivation to get up and keep going. When alone its a much harder and slower process.
A lot of hotels, cruises, tours etc have single occupancy charges. I hate this! With a passion, but its often the case. The same can be said with splitting taxis, parking etc when travelling. You can often save a fortune travelling in a group or pair.
I’ve had to take some really awkward selfies when alone. You will end up taking lots of photos, none of which will include you. This can be solved by asking a stranger to take a photo of you somewhere, however if your as precious and protective of your camera as I am this isn’t always an option!
There are different ways of travelling in a group and also travelling on your own. The approach I usually take is to meet established groups of people and hang about with them until I find its time to move on.
I have never really travelled with an established group of friends before so I cant really offer any advice to that, I have however travelling in a pair one or twice and this throw up its own pros and cons. The main con being the lack or freedom and having to consider and plan around someone else’s feelings and plans.
However when in a pair there is also the constant company, this can again be amazing but also grating. Pick the person you are with wisely if your travelling in a pair. You will see the best and worst of that person very quickly and it can make or break friendships and relationships.
Travelling in organised tours also throws up its own pros and cons. The main con being, you cant chose who your with or what you do. I’ve done tours where I’ve been the only English speaker or haven’t really clicked with anyone else doing it. This can make the tours really restrictive and suffocating. On the flip side, I’ve done tours where the tour content was a bit rubbish however the people I’ve met on them were so awesome that I fondly remember the tour as being amazing. Its a bit of a gamble really.
The best advice I can offer is to go alone. You will get the chance to meet people and join a group and travel with others when you want to.