Traveling is an enriching experience that offers soothing relaxation, exciting adventures, and more. But is it better to travel alone or to travel with someone else? This article will help you decide by highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of traveling alone.
The advantages of traveling alone include making more friends, making your own decisions, gaining confidence, and learning more about yourself. On the other hand, the disadvantages include increased safety risks, feelings of loneliness, and no one to share the new experiences with.
How does traveling alone create these effects (e.g., how does it make you gain confidence to face situations or learn more about yourself)? Also, how do you overcome the main cons of traveling alone? Read on to find the answers to these questions!
Advantages Of Traveling Alone
There are so many advantages of traveling alone that it is relatively easier to make a case for traveling alone. That said, some of the main advantages of traveling alone are:
- It is less expensive
- It is easier to make new friends
- You get to make your own decisions
- It gives the confidence to face situations
- It helps with self-discovery
1. It Is Less Expensive
As long as you are responsible for more than your bills, then it is cheaper to travel alone.
The total travel expense grows with each person added to your traveling party. When you add a travel partner or partners, only a few expenses do not change, but others will shoot up significantly to increase the overall cost of the trip.
For example, when you travel with one or two people, only a few expenses do not change. These include car rental (assuming the travel party will not need a bigger car) and accommodation (assuming the travel party can share a single accommodation).
2. It Is Easier To Make New Friends
Traveling alone offers more opportunities to meet people and make new friends. There are two reasons why traveling alone makes it easier to make new friends:
- Traveling alone forces you to meet people. When traveling with a partner (or partners), you’ll rely on each other for help and conversation. Thus, you’ll talk to fewer new people. However, when traveling alone, you’re forced to engage the people around you for help and conversation.
- Others are more likely to approach you when you are alone. When you are alone and look lost, people are more likely to ask you if you need help. But when you are in a group, people are more likely to reason that you’ll sort yourselves out. Also, even when you are doing alright as a solo traveler, other travelers are more likely to ask you if you mind joining them for activities.
Since traveling alone helps you engage with more new people, it makes you more outgoing and friendly, making it easier to make new friends. It also helps you to appreciate how kind and good total strangers can be.
3. You Get To Make Your Own Decisions
One of the best advantages of traveling alone is that it gives you the freedom to create your own schedules and to make your own decisions.
When traveling with others, you have to accommodate their wishes (or at least, some of their wishes). This is important because overriding all (or most of) the wishes of your traveling companions:
- Can pass you as selfish and strain the relationship you have with the individual(s)
- Can make the experience less enjoyable for them, reducing their happiness level. Sadly, a less than happy traveling partner can ruin your own experience.
However, accommodating the wishes of traveling partners means laying down some of your wishes. But when you travel alone, you get to do whatever you want, however you want, and whenever you want.
You want to travel to see a historical site, but the group thinks that the Park will be more exciting. You want to explore the city some more, but the group thinks it’s enough exploring for the day. These are some of the things you won’t encounter when you travel alone.
4. Gives Confidence To Face Situations
Traveling puts you face to face with varying situations, and some can be challenging, frustrating, intimidating, or even scary.
For example, navigating unknown territories can be intimidating, making sense of an unfamiliar language can be challenging, losing an essential can be frustrating, getting lost yourself can be scary, etc.
When you travel with people, you naturally lean on them to pull through challenges, but when you are alone, you learn to help yourself. You learn to trust yourself to find solutions, and every little success emboldens you and tells you that you can get things done.
5. It Helps With Self Discovery
A huge advantage of traveling alone is that it helps you to understand yourself better. Traveling alone offers more opportunities for self-discovery because:
- It facilitates psychological disconnection from “home”. Travel partners are usually people from your personal or professional environments. Having people from “home” with you when on a vacation makes it more difficult to disconnect from home and focus on your experiences.
- It creates more opportunities for introspection. Solitude allows more opportunities for introspection, and you’ll have more alone time when you travel alone.
That said, traveling alone makes it easier to disconnect from home and offers more opportunities for personal reflection, allowing you to learn more about yourself.
As you overcome travel challenges, you’ll learn more about your abilities. Personal reflection may reveal that how you use your time and energy is not optimal, and you’ll have to make adjustments and change your priorities. This is one reason why many people who travel alone find that they return home a different person.
Disadvantages Of Traveling Alone
Traveling alone also comes with some disadvantages. Some of the often-mentioned disadvantages of traveling solo are:
1. There Are Hidden Costs That Solo Travelers Bear
Solo travel is only less expensive than group travel if you will be responsible for more than your expenses. However, except for couple or family vacations, it’s rare for an individual traveling in a group to bear everyone else’s expenses. Instead, group travelers usually split costs, to reduce the travel costs per individual.
Thus, solo travel is more expensive when compared with group travel having cost-splitting opportunities.
In fact, people who travel alone can pay 50% – 80% more than people who travel as a duo. Solo travels are more expensive for two reasons:
- No cost-splitting opportunities. When you travel as a duo, you can split certain expenses with your travel partner. For example, you can split the cost of renting a car or the cost of hotel accommodation. But as a solo traveler, you’ll bear the costs alone.
- Solo travel taxes. The single supplement charge is basically a tax for traveling alone, as it is charged to solo travelers who take a room alone. The charge is usually 10 – 100% of the standard accommodation rate. So, what a solo traveler pays for a particular accommodation can be double what a traveling couple will pay for it.
2. It Can Be Unsafe
You probably have heard of the saying “there is safety in numbers.” It means that there is a better chance of avoiding harm or danger when you are in a group than when you are alone.
The saying also applies to group and solo travels.
It should be said that traveling alone is not inherently unsafe. Traveling, whether alone or in a group, comes with safety risks, and travelers should proactively plan to mitigate these risks.
However, because there’s safety in numbers, most people feel safer when traveling in a group than when traveling alone. For example, you’ll feel safer going back to your hotel late at night when you are in a group than when you are alone.
Also, getting lost when navigating unfamiliar territories can be frustrating when in a group, but can be a scary prospect when you are alone.
It is reported that 56.1% of females cite fear of safety as a reason not to travel alone, but only 25.7% of men cite fear of safety as a deterrent to traveling alone. Thus, “safety concerns” is a bigger solo travel disadvantage for women than for men.
Interestingly, the female gender accounts for a bigger percentage of global solo travelers, as 84% of solo travelers are women.
3. It Can Get Lonely
One experience that many solo travelers have is loneliness. It can get lonely when you travel alone because you are by yourself.
The feelings of loneliness can get really bad if you are an introvert, and do not like meeting people or starting conversations. Introverts tend to find comfort in socializing with their close people.
4. Nobody To Share Experiences With
The main reason solo travel can be boring is that the solo traveler has no one to share experiences with.
As a solo traveler, you’ll eat alone and have no one to share the moments with. When you’re out and having a good time, you’ll also have no one to share the moments with. When in group travel, you can turn to your traveling partner to express what you think of the food or just how wonderful an attraction is.
But when traveling alone, you’ll just ruminate in silence, probably take a few pictures, and move on.
Talking of pictures, when traveling alone, most of your pictures will be selfies. Taking full pictures of yourself by yourself is difficult. Selfie sticks are popular with solo travelers, as it allows you to catch a wider area in your pictures. However, you can’t take full pictures with selfie sticks.
So, many solo travelers resort to asking people around (other travelers or locals) to help them take pictures.
How Common Is Solo Travel?
Traveling alone is very common. This suggests that, to many people, the advantages of traveling alone outweigh the disadvantages.
Solo travel accounts for up to 18% of global travel, while 76% of global travelers have either traveled alone in the past or are considering traveling alone.
In one study to determine the main reasons for traveling alone, “not wanting to wait for others while seeing the world” was found as the number one reason for solo travel. Other high-ranking reasons include the feeling of freedom, wanting to meet new people, and personal growth.
|Reason for traveling alone
|% of solo travelers
|I want to see the world and I don’t want to wait for others
|I want to do what I want when I want
|I like the feeling of freedom and independence
|I want to meet new people
|I have different interests than my friends
|My partner does not want to travel as much as I do
How Do You Reduce The Cost Of Traveling Alone?
Traveling alone is expensive because it does not offer cost-splitting opportunities. However, you can keep costs down by traveling in off-travel seasons when prices are relatively low, cutting off the middlemen when making reservations, using buses instead of taxis, and going with group tours instead of expensive private tours.
How Can You Travel Alone Without Being Lonely?
Being alone does not mean being lonely. When you travel alone, you can beat feelings of loneliness by moving around by public transportation like buses where you can meet more people, taking group tours so you can spend time with other travelers, and actively reaching out to others instead of leaving friendships to chance.
How Can You Keep Yourself Safe When Traveling Alone?
It is generally held that traveling alone increases safety risks. However, you can keep yourself safe. Before you go, research your travel destination and choose a safe place, choose an accommodation that is in a good area of town, plan to arrive during the day, and share your itinerary with someone at home.
While you are there, don’t keep late nights, don’t flash your valuables around, and don’t be too quick to trust people.
Solo travel helps you meet new friends, offers the freedom of making your own decisions, gives you the confidence to face situations, and helps with self-discovery. However, it can be more expensive, less safe, and more stress. Whether solo traveling is for you depends on your preferences!
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