When I first tell others I am planning to travel solo to a foreign country, I am met with mixed reactions. Many are positive and encouraging, others are not. Some negative responses can leave me feeling judged as if I need to explain my decision to travel alone. That should not be the case. Yes, solo travel is not for everybody and there are negative aspects of going it alone, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and liberating things you can ever experience.
So, what are the pros and cons of solo travel? Is it worth it?
Safety can be a concern
One of the most frequent things that people comment on when they hear that I am travelling alone is safety and honestly, I am not surprised. The media bombards us daily with thousands of stories about criminal activity and terrorist attacks from around the globe. However, as terrible as these things are – life is too short to live in fear.
Yes, some cities are generally less safe than others for solo female (and even male) travellers. Always ensure that you do your research, but also keep in mind that the media and the internet can often make a city seem a lot less safe than it actually is. The media doesn’t often report on the many amazing things that happen in these so-called unsafe countries.
Tip: If you still decide you don’t feel safe going it alone, there is no need to cross a city off your bucket list. Many solo travellers join tour groups in situations like these. This not only improves your safety, but you will also get to meet others with similar interests to yours. What’s not to love?
It is often more expensive
Annoyingly, solo travel is often more expensive because you have nobody to split the costs of accommodation, food and essentials with. Obviously, this makes it harder to spread your budget over longer periods of time.
Tip: To get around this, always do some research and plan your route before you leave. There are many cheap cities around the world that you can visit without breaking the bank.
Getting that insta-worthy shot is a bit more difficult
Okay, let’s be honest – we all want that ‘perfect’ shot for Instagram, but there’s only so many times you can ask a stranger to take your photo before you risk annoying them.
Tip: I usually wait until the first person has left my surrounding area before asking somebody else until I get the shot that I want. Yes, this can take time, but I would much rather get an excellent shot that captures a moment, instead of returning home and being unhappy with the photos.
Having nobody to help you carry toiletries and other essentials can definitely weigh you down. Travelling alone also means you will need to carry your luggage everywhere with you, which can be extremely tiring.
Tip: I recommend being ruthless and packing as little as possible. You will thank yourself later.
It can be lonely
Everybody has bad days, even whilst travelling. These bad days can leave you feeling homesick and lonely. Fortunately, if you are staying in a hostel it will be easy to strike up a conversation with another traveller. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t miss your home comforts and spending time with your loved ones.
Tip: Download Skype. It is free and all you need is a wifi connection to catch up with family and friends back home when you are feeling down.
Now, on to the good stuff:
You get to set your own schedule
In my opinion, the best thing about solo travel is that you get to do exactly what you want to do without making any compromises. Immersing yourself in new cultures and exploring new cities at your own pace is extremely exciting and empowering.
You can make new friends
Not only does travelling solo ensure you only ever do things that you will enjoy, it also gives you the freedom and the chance to meet other like-minded travellers. These other travellers are likely to have similar interests to you already, giving you the chance to make some great friends.
It gives you confidence
Travelling solo means that booking all your travel arrangements, accommodation and activities are completely down to you. If you have never been responsible for that before, it can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you need to arrange visas or any other necessary things to take your trip. Once you return home from a fantastic trip and everything went according to plan, you feel more confident in your abilities.
You will grow as a person
Travelling solo means that you have nobody to rely on but yourself. You will sometimes find yourself in situations that are way out of your comfort zone, but you will be a stronger person when you get through it alone. It will strengthen your problem-solving skills, improve your social skills and force you to be independent. These are all great skills to have in life.
In my opinion, the pros of solo travel definitely outweigh the cons, but booking that first solo adventure can be nerve-wracking. Remember, if you don’t enjoy it you can always come home. However, if you are anything like me, you will be hooked immediately.
What is your experience of solo travel? What do you like and dislike? Let me know in the comments below!