Pros & Cons of Travelling Alone
Planning a trip to somewhere new can be one of the most exciting things (maybe even just as exiting than the trip itsself) about going away.
Where to stay, what to see, what to do, where to eat, what to bring, how to get there....and who to travel with?
If you're anything like me you'll revel in discovering the answer to most of the above, and quickly at that too, but the one that's always hardest to answer is whether you should go it alone, bring along a friend or sign up on a tour.
I've drawn up a pros and cons list for each of these, so you don't have to:
Whether you can't convince your friends to go or you want to travel solo on a gap year, there's nothing more liberating or empowering that undertaking a journey alone.
It toughens your skin, it puts you in situations you've never been in before. It lets you experience things wholly, forces you to learn a language, make friends, allows you to do your own thing and learn important lessons about your character. In summary, it helps you grow a backbone by pushing you out of your comfort zone.
There's nobody there to urge you to wake up early, cut your photography (or wifi) session short, eat faster or leave the club earlier. Nobody there to tell you when to travel onto your next destination, judge your odd eating habits or the fact that you've been wearing the same bar-crawl novelty top since you got it - a week ago. It's all up to you.
If you choose the right hostel it usually isn't too difficult to meet other people too.
Being your own boss, following your own itinerary and navigating foreign lands is just as rewarding as it sounds - you don't need anybody to hold your hand, because quite frankly, you got this! There's nobody around to break your immersive cultural connection to the place you're at. As Jack Kerouac would say, “nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road”...
View more tips for traveling solo.
The beauty of travelling to new places is to make memories you want to remember for the rest of your life. That's kind of hard when you're the only one witnessing the moments which you want to hold onto forever. That hyper-pigmented, eight-coloured sunset you saw one evening is only imprinted in your brain. That weird street dog with the gold chain you thought was hilarious? Only you spotted it. That delicious street food you stumbled upon randomly when you were out exploring? You ate it alone.
Doing your own thing is liberating and rewarding, but it can get rather lonely. You're all you got, so if you're frustrated at a delayed flight, fallen ill or just bored having a person around starts to look all that more appealing...
Travelling with Friends
Travelling with a friend means you've got a solid companion by your side who, if you're lucky, enjoys almost all the same things you do. And if not, is willing to try them!
There's nothing better than sharing great moments with the great people in your life and building up your collection of private jokes and great anecdotes to tell all your other (less adventurous or fortunate) friends back home. Constant companionship is the biggest selling point here!
Sharing meals, taxis, accommodation as well as memories with a friend can also mean things are cheaper on the road. It also gives you a safety net of always knowing you've got someone there, even if it's just someone to walk with down a dark street late at night.
Sharing adventures together can be just short of priceless.
Unless you've travelled with certain people before, spending every waking hour together does start to grate on you pretty quickly. The things you once brushed off as their little quirks now begin to gnaw away at your patience and you just want, nay, need to be left alone. Unless you're willing to give each other breathing space now and again, it's very easy to lose friends over travelling.
Travelling with friends mean you're often limited to spending time only with them and not putting yourself out there to meet anybody new, make new friends or engage with the locals. Your safety net quickly becomes a hindrance to truly engaging with the experience of being somewhere different, as you've got something familiar always holding you back.
Quarreling can really dampen a trip and ruin a place. Only travel with a friend if you're sure they'll be the same on the road as they are at home.
Travelling with a Tour Troup
On a tour you'll land yourself amongst a bunch of people who all share your passion for travel and the keenness to explore your chosen destination.
That's a bunch of people you never knew before and whole load of opportunity to make great new friends. Who else is going to convince you to do something crazy you'd never do on your own?
Who else is going to talk you into a skydive? Who else is going to look after you when you've had one too many drinks at a club? Who else are you going to share that sunrise with, which you hiked all night to see at the top of the mountain? Your new tourgroup-mates, that's who!
With group travel all the responsibilities of actually being on the road are shared, or completely taken care of by your tour guide. You're looked after, with like minded people for company and you don't have to worry about your safety the same way as when you're alone.
You're also likely to make a small group of friends amidst the bigger group, who you can share your best experiences with.
Though most of the responsibility of travel is usually handled by your tour guide, this does mean you have very little control over your trip.
Your flexibility is at its lowest point when travelling in a tourgroup and you can't just decide to stay that extra day because you spent yesterday in bed recovering from a hangover or travel sickness.
Picking places to eat becomes a daily chore when you have to cater to the tastes of over 10 people, you make less of an effort to communicate with locals because you've always got another group member around and your adventure lacks all challenges when you've got a pre-set route in front of you.
Also, what do you do when you don't get on with anyone?
So here's the verdict - Why settle for just one when you can do some of each?
Explore the places in which you want to immerse yourself alone, give yourself the chance to find your footing, people watch and reflect. If there's someone you want to share an experience with, then of course, bring them along! Or if you're up for meeting like-minded people who you want to make new memories with, be brave and sign up on a tour!
There's not a right answer to this, neither is there a wrong one - tailor your trip to make the most of what you want to do.
By Dessie Nedyalkova