If I had a penny for every article I have read recently about how amazing it is to travel solo, I would be a very rich woman. Well, I would at least have enough to pay for a Tinder upgrade and find myself a hot travel buddy. Sometimes, and I’m scared to say this, I hate travelling alone.
All this talk about how incredible it is to travel solo and how ‘everyone should do it at least once it their lives’ is such a load of recycled rubbish. Sure, traveling by yourself can be amazing sometimes and there are certainly benefits do doing it at least once, but it’s about time someone laid down the facts about what it’s really like to travel by yourself. Solo. Alone. With no friends. Not even one. Is it fun to travel alone? No, sometimes it’s NOT! Solo travel depression is very real thing and not every solo travel trip ends with stories of “the best trip of your life”.
Here are 9 good reasons why you should do whatever you can not to travel solo on your next trip. For the love of God, find yourself a travel buddy. An acquaintance. A lover. Anyone who will turn your solo adventure into a trip to remember and one you can share and reminisce on in years to come.
9. Solo travel is expensive.
When you are traveling by yourself, everything is suddenly so much more expensive. There’s no one to share that expensive taxi ride with you. No one to rent that car with. There’s no one to split the costs of a hotel room. Many tour groups actually penalize you for being alone, and force you to pay humiliating ‘single supplements’.
8. Eating alone is depressing
Would you go to a restaurant back home by yourself? Didn’t think so. Trying to find restaurants where people won’t judge you for being alone is an absolute pain. You either sit in a nice place nervously, wishing your food would arrive faster so you can leave quicker, or you succumb to only eating at crap fast food joints so people won’t have enough time to see you eating alone. Half the enjoyment of eating out is sharing a meal with others, tasting their food and enjoying some good conversation. Eating alone sucks. Planning to do it anyway? Here’s some good tips about eating solo!
7. An album full of selfies
Anyone who has travel led alone even once is sure to have mastered the art of the travel selfie. But there really are only so many angles you can take of your gigantic face with the Pyramids, Great Wall of China or the Eiffel Tower in the background. Continually having to ask strangers to take your photo while you stand alone and pose can get tiring pretty fast, and you also risk your camera or phone getting stolen each and every time you hand it over.
6. Traveling alone can be dangerous
When you travel alone, you are taking a risk. You will always be an easy target and will, sadly, might even have some really horrible experiences. You won’t have a buddy to fall back on. You will have to defend yourself. There will be no one to help when your wallet gets stolen in Barcelona with all your money and cards or when your bags get taken after you have fallen asleep on a 12 hour bus ride across Northern Vietnam.
5. It’s hard to make friends
Have you ever walked up to a group of people in a bar and tried to make friends with them? It’s hard, right? They will most likely smile and then turn away. Making friends while traveling can be really difficult and leave you feeling drained at the end of each day and with a horrible feeling each time you wake up and know you have to do it all over again. Sure some people are nice and you will find some like-minded people in hostels and in bars on nights out, but those people move on or fly home and leave you right where they left you, looking for new friends.
4. Solo travel is boring
Unless you are a seriously introverted person who likes to hang out by yourself all day back home, solo travel can get boring. Quickly. There are only so many museums you can visit by yourself, books your can read and activities you can do before you start to wish, “Man, I seriously wish I had a friend to do this with”. Cycling around a city by yourself? Boring. Doing a sightseeing tour by yourself? Boring? Even mad bucket list activities like skydiving or shark cage diving are a million times better if you have someone to share the adrenaline rush with.
3. You will question all your life choices.
Spending a little bit of time alone is great. Spend too much time alone and suddenly your mind starts to fill with endless thoughts about life choices, your career, past relationships and what direction your life is going. The smallest things, like seeing kids laughing or watching the sunset, can trigger a waterfall of emotions. A little bit of deep thought never hurt anyone, but it can get too much when you become overrun with emotion throughout your trip.
2. It’s harder to laugh off the small things
When you travel with a friend or a group, it is so easy to laugh off the small things such as missing your train or getting extreme diarrhea or getting scammed into buying tickets for a bus that does not exist. When you are alone, these problems become magnified and, at times, make you want to cry, scream or even pack your bags and fly home.
Even your friends and family back home, who I’m sure love you dearly, will only be able to cope with 2-3 days max of your endless travel tales. They get it. You spent some time abroad. You met some Maasai warriors. You ate a rat. After one week max, they won’t want to hear about it. If you have traveled with others, you can spend as long as you like reminiscing about that crazy boat ride in Laos or those dodgy milkshakes in Bali. You will always have that bond between you, and it is an incredible bond to have.
Authors note: I have had many, many positive solo travel experiences. I think everyone, and I mean everyone, should take a solo trip at least once in their life. It will shape your personality, give you confidence and help increase self-esteem. This post is simply a reflective piece on 10 years of solo travel.
Hi! I’m Janet Newenham, an Irish-born digital nomad and blogger. My blog, Journalist On The Run, is a journal of my travels and career hurdles, as well as a “bucket list for life.” In my youth, reading inspired me to create and achieve goals for my future.
My long list of goals took me to places I could never have dreamed of, each one inspiring me toward the next. Along the way, I picked up a few awards like “Digital Media Travel Journalist Of The Year” in both 2017 and 2019 while simply doing what I love.
Now, well into my 30s, I’ve seen so many of the world’s alcoves that it would be wrong not to share my experiences with you. This blog is my way of taking you around the world with me, and I hope you enjoy the ride.
My goal was to visit 50 countries before I hit 30. I never imagined that at 37, I could proudly say I’ve seen 101 of the world’s beautiful countries. Of course, no matter how much you think you’ve traveled, there is still so much left to see, and I look forward to going on the run with you.
Table of Contents
- 9. Solo travel is expensive.
- 8. Eating alone is depressing
- 7. An album full of selfies
- 6. Traveling alone can be dangerous
- 5. It’s hard to make friends
- 4. Solo travel is boring
- 3. You will question all your life choices.
- 2. It’s harder to laugh off the small things
- 1. You have no one to share your memories with
Friday 23rd of September 2016
Thank you for this article. Thank you so much. Why? Because as we speak, I'm in Thailand at the moment, 4 days away from home and honestly I can't wait to go back. I loved traveling alone for the first 15-20 days (don't know where was the point it turned a bit sour), meeting a lot of people, just seeing the new world unfold infront of my eyes BUT now I kinda got tired of it. Tired of same questions every two days (Where are you from? What do you study? Where have you been so far? Where are you going? Bla bla blah...) I was really depressed about myself, especially because everyone I've met, my friends and even many blog posts said the same: going solo is the best thing ever. Yes, I agree, but only for some time, as I'm an extrovert and love to share moments wih my friends. Don't get me wrong, I've met some wonderful people over here, but they're not my real friends I'd rather share (some) moments with.
I really thought I was the weirdest solo traveler in the whole world. And you were right - after I was alone for too long, some stupid thoughts came to my mind. Doubts avout the future, doubts about myself. But I guess it's all part of the experience (I try to see it as self-discovery). I also noticed that after some time, my confidence goes rock bottom, as I have no close friends nearby to talk about my insecurities. But again, looking on the positive side, I've discovered a couple of things about myself that need to fix. As a matter of fact, I just realised that I don't want to smoke cigarettes anymore.
Thank you again, it cheered me up =)
With lots of love from Koh Tao, AnonymousGuy23
P.s.: sorry for any typos
Monday 19th of September 2016
Call me small minded but generally the people I know of that travel solo are egotist types that do not get along with people to begin with. They know that anyone that spends a couple weeks with them will end up hating them in no time so they prefer the kind of superficial, temporary, polite, relationships that you have with people you meet on the road. By traveling they can delude themselves into their own glorified grandiose, man or woman of adventure, self image which they will wear like a badge of distinction later on. I knew a guy at work that everyone hated, name was Malcolm, but that didn't stop him from bragging of his big adventure riding his motorcycle solo across the U.S. Bahhh, who cares, ha ha. Reality check people, going on a vacation is not like saving a bunch of orphans from a house fire. It's a vacation. It doesn't make you a hero or Marco Polo or Lewis and Clark or anything like that. You either had a good time or you didn't, and if you experienced a foreign culture you might be a more interesting person now because of it. Still your stories are probably really quite boring for most of us. Don't get me wrong. Travel is awesome but its not an accomplishment and neither really is climbing a mountain. It's recreation and nothing more. Of course, in this world of facebook bragging is not really frowned upon anymore and solo vacation selfies will just continue to propagate. Maybe with everyone growing up in front of a computer screen kids don't even know how to keep each other company anymore, anyways?
Monday 4th of July 2016
If I wait to find a companion for travelling, I'll never travel at all. I don't want to grow old with a regret of not doing something I wanted to when I was young and had the energy to do it. Often travelling with friends doesn't materialize. Some may have work commitments, conflicting schedules. One or two friends from your group may be free but they may want to go with every friend in the group. Travelling solo may not be better for you but it's better than not travelling at all.
Monday 4th of July 2016
For sure, I've travelled solo many times, it's just not always my first choice. Enjoy your trip! :-)
Wednesday 30th of March 2016
Each to their own, I guess. I'm a very sociable, outgoing person who loves company but I adore travelling solo. In fact, I choose to travel alone more often than not now because other people can be unreliable, it takes forever to decide where to eat or another girl has to do her hair or…. a myriad of reasons. It sounds like a crazy cliché but I really think I "found" myself whilst travelling alone. I had come out of a pretty bad bout of depression and found so much strength and peace in 6/7 months of solo travelling. I didn't find the things you mention challenging - eating alone? It depends where you are, in some cultures people don't care and other backpackers/travellers certainly don't judge. I definitely feel you on the selfies though :) and I appreciate your points. We all feel differently and that's great! Happy Travelling.
Wednesday 27th of January 2016
I have travelled solo literally all my life and I am 50 years of age (female). I used to take my Daughter when she was 3 years old off on great holidays. When she grew up and headed to University I knew I would be heading off on adventures alone!!! My first backpacking was to Asia, and I also took in Australia and ended up in Bali - it was fabulous - I hired a moped and felt so bloody free. I got the travel bug and left my job (in a bank in London) and house and moved to Costa Rica without any Spanish. I did a TEFL and I could have simply moved to Spain (I was in London at that time) but it would have been so easy to move back home and I wanted/needed to challenge myself and come outside of my comfort zone. It was one of the best things I have ever done. I ended up living in CR for 18 months. I then travelled all through South America alone with my backpack... by this time I had learned a little spanish (and I would advise anyone to have at least basic spanish when travelling in central or south america). When I finally got back to London after 2.5 years of travel I was so unsettled - I took off again - this time to walk the 1000 kilometre pilgrimmage to Santiago de Compostella - alone !!! I stayed in my Sisters holiday home in Valencia in Spain to help me research my trip - relax and read and prepare myself for this trek which took me all of 30 days. When I took my hire car back to Valencial train station - two guys attempted to mug me - they failed (but that is another story and that is the only negative thing that ever happened on all of my travels). I walked all of the Camino - which was the most awesome trip of my life... in fact I walked another 3 days to Finisterre and stayed there for a month contemplating life before moving to Gran Canaria. I could write a book on all the places I have been but mostly it is the people I have met along the way that give me the most memories... they were fantabulous. My only regret is not keeping a blog of all this. I am so envious of all you travel bloggers. My advice would be - just do it - do not be afraid - fear holds you back - I am pretty confident but this made me even more so. I did keep a diary of all my travels and I really hope one day to join all the dots and put it into my memoirs. In the words of the Costa Ricans (whom I love). Pura Vida.