So you want to take a trip somewhere, but none of your friends or family have the time or money to go with you. Have you considered going by yourself? For most people, traveling solo can be a scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be! There are so many advantages to going on a vacation by yourself. Of course there are some disadvantages too, but I’m here help you overcome them. In this post I’m going to cover the pros and cons of solo travel, show you how to turn the cons into pros, and hopefully inspire you to take your first solo journey.
The Pros and Cons of Solo Travel
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1. Pro: New People, New Friends
When you travel with a group of friends, your family, or your significant other, you tend to spend the entire time together. You have planned excursions, all meals are eaten together, and you really don’t make the effort to talk to other people. And this is totally fine! But unfortunately, you don’t really get the chance to meet other travelers or locals.
When you are alone, you’re sort of forced to make friends because otherwise you’d get pretty lonely. Staying in a hostel is one of the best and easiest ways to make friends because there are a ton of other solo travelers and backpackers looking to meet people just like you! You can meet people in your room, the common areas, and the social events that most hostels hold.
New Friends from the Hostel
Other travelers are also more likely to speak to you if they see you are alone. Think about it – if you saw a group of friends all chatting away or a couple sitting together, how likely are you to just go up and strike a conversation. But if you saw someone sitting alone, you probably wouldn’t be too nervous to go up and say hi. When people see you by yourself, they will be much more likely to come and introduce themselves or ask you to join their group. This worked out well for me because I’m pretty shy when it comes to introducing myself to new people. But luckily, there were plenty of outgoing travelers who happily started up a conversation with me.
Meeting New People on a Pub Crawl
2. Con: Pricing Tailored to Duos
One thing that really bothers me is that a lot of tour companies will charge an extra fee if you are single. They can make more money by filling up their spaces with couples rather than for a single rider, so they charge you an extra fee. Totally not fair!
Selfie in Annecy, France
So you have a couple options. One is that you can do more research and try to find another tour company that offers a similar experience, but won’t charge an extra fee. Websites like TripAdvisor and Viator are great for finding all the tour companies in the area as well as reviews from past customers. If you have your heart set on this particular tour, you could try calling or emailing and just ask. It never hurts to ask, and if they are trying to fill up empty spots at the last minute they’d probably rather not lose out on the revenue. *Get $10 towards your first purchase on Viator through my link HERE.
The best option – ask a new friend to go with you! You should be meeting new people and making new friends as I mentioned above, so why not ask someone to join you? Other travelers want to experience the country just like you do, and maybe they haven’t heard about the tour you’re interested in, or maybe they have but dont’t want to pay the single rider fee. It never hurts to ask! But don’t take it personal if they don’t want to join you, most backpackers are on a budget so keep that in mind if your tour is expensive.
Tour with a New Friend from the Hostel
3. Pro: Freedom, Baby
I absolutely love traveling with friends and family, but usually not everyone is on the same page. This can be a huge bummer if there was somewhere you really wanted to go or a particular tour you were really interested in and no one in your group wants to go. Enter the freedom of solo travel!
Selfie in Nice, France
There is no one directing your vacation or choosing your itinerary for you. You don’t ever feel obligated to do something you have no interest in. You can go to bed and wake up whenever you want, there is no one else’s schedule to follow. This was my absolute favorite part of traveling solo. I took a vacay with a few friends once and one of them expected everyone to be up and ready to go by 8am to make sure there was enough time to do everything. That sucked. I love to sleep in on my vacations and enjoy the relaxation part. And since you won’t have to partake in anything you don’t want to, you should still have plenty of time to do whatever you want!
4. Con: Dinner for One, Please
Have you ever gone to a restaurant in your hometown and actually sat there dining alone? Probably not. It feels uncomfortable and if you’re like me, I care what people think. I don’t want other people thinking I have no friends, how embarrassing! Well, this is a tough one for solo travelers.
Unfortunately, there will not always be the option to have a dinner partner, which means you’re gonna have to go it alone sometimes. This was a hard one for me as a shy person, some people will have no problem with this. What I did to overcome this fear was choose my restaurants carefully. First, I did some research on Yelp to find restaurants nearby and read reviews on them. I then would scout them out, if they looked slow I would happily go in and get seated. For some reason, I felt more uncomfortable when places were busy and packed. They felt like a social scene and I should be with friends.
Dining Alone in Bologna, Italy
I actually came to love dining alone because it gave me a chance to catch up on reading. Reading was never really my thing until I started traveling solo because I needed something to occupy me while I ate alone. If I was just looking around, staring at other patrons, I would feel so uncomfortable! Having a book or something to write on made me look productive, like I had something to work on. This way it didn’t look like I had no friends, I was just busy.
5. Pro: I Am a Strong, Independent Woman
Traveling solo gives you a sense of confidence. When I tell friends or co-workers that I spent a year traveling by myself, I get a lot of the same reaction. “Wow that’s crazy!” or “I could never do that!”. It makes me feel like I accomplished something few others could.
Picnic Alone in Annecy, France
You really get to know yourself when you spend time alone. There were so many times that something went wrong and I had to overcome it alone. It would have been so much easier if I had someone with me! But you’re pushed to overcome tough situations and figure things out for yourself. This really helps you grow and learn. I was forced to make new friends, which led me to be a more outgoing person. Dining alone helped me to not care what other people think as much. Being taken to the wrong airport and having to pay for an expensive taxi taught me to always confirm crucial information!
Selfie in Paris, France
Knowing that you’re capable of navigating a foreign country and taking care of yourself is such a great feeling. I love the confidence I grew from my solo trip and you will too!
6. Con: First, Let Me Take a Selfie
Selfies. I hate taking them! The majority of girls probably love taking selfies, but if you’re like me they make you feel uncomfortable. Well, if you want photos on your solo trip with you in them, you’re gonna have to learn to master the Selfie. Otherwise you’ll end up taking a lot of photos of your feet or your food!
I don’t trust strangers with my expensive iPhone, so I never opted for asking someone to take a photo of me. I was too worried they’d take off with it! So instead, I would wait until less people were around so I could take my selfie. Using your arm to take a photo isn’t the best option because your pictures will be zoomed in on your face. Invest in a selfie stick. You’ll look silly, but trust me you will get much better photos. My photos on this page were taken with my arm and you can see how bad they are. Get the selfie stick! They aren’t expensive and will work with any smartphone.
Selfie in Strasbourg, France
Option 2 is to invest in a GoPro. These are great for selfies because of the wide angle lens. So even if you use your arm, your photo won’t be too zoomed in. GoPros are quite expensive and if you’re on a budget it might be too much. But the good news is there are a ton of knock-offs that are just as good! This is the one I use and I love it! It’s affordable, water resistant, and has 4k which makes for a much clearer picture. See photo below!
GoPro Knock-off Selfie, New Orleans
The Pros and Cons of Solo Travel
There are so many great things about solo travel, and the not so great things can easily be overcome. Why not at least try it? If you’re exceptionally nervous, start small and local. Maybe take a weekend trip to a nearby city so that you at least still feel in your element. Try dining alone in your hometown or take a tour! We rarely get to be tourists in our own town so this your chance to explore your city. Solo travel is such a great experience and I promise you won’t regret it! Can’t decide where to go? Check out my post on why Australia is a great country for your first solo trip: Solo Travel in Australia.
Work with Me
A lot of work goes into planning an international solo trip, let me help you! I offer one-on-one coaching to help women mentally and physically prepare for their first solo trip. Check out my Work with Me page for information on my Travel Consulting services.