Pros and Cons of Solo Travel - My Experience Solo Travelling
Updated: Nov 4, 2018
Coming off 3 weeks solo backpacking the Philippines and a week spent exploring NYC by myself, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the ins and outs of solo travelling. Whilst there are some downsides to travelling alone, I honestly think solo travelling is great and believe that you shouldn't let the absence of a travel partner stop you going on the adventure of a lifetime!
The first time I travelled solo was a two week trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2015 when I was 18.
I remember sitting on the plane thinking to myself: 'what hell am am I doing!?". I had never had been to Asia before and not known anyone else my age who had travelled by themselves. But that thought lasted all of two seconds before my excitement for seeing new places and yearn for adventure kicked in.
On this first trip I joined a group tour which was a great way to ease myself into solo travel as I was able to meet other solo travellers and have the security of being with a group the entire time. I had a great time and this time around I didn't hesitate to book four weeks of solo travel for my trip prior to starting my working holiday in Canada. I consider myself a pretty confident traveller - I'm good navigating myself around a country and I enjoy the challenge of exploring a country/place on my own.
If you've ever thought about solo travelling, I say do it! But it's important to be aware of the pros and cons that come with travelling alone:
You open yourself up to meeting new people - often when you travel with a group/partner you can inadvertently limit yourself from meeting new people as you are always guaranteed to have someone to do activities with, eat dinner with etc... I find travelling alone gives you the opportunity to open yourself up more to meeting new people. I was surprised how many solo travellers I met while in the Philippines! Wherever I went I was able to make friends with other backpackers through hostels, tours or at backpacker bars.
You learn to be self sufficient - when travelling alone you learn to rely on yourself and be self-sufficient. You have to make all the decisions and you can't rely on someone else to look after you. While this can be daunting for some people, I see this as a 'pro' because you learn to build confidence in yourself and be self-motivating.
You have more flexibility - when travelling in a pair or as a group you often have to make compromises for the sake of others. Solo travel gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want and total control in your trip decision-making. This means you can ensure you don't miss out on anything you want to do.
Opportunity to 'find yourself' - spending time alone allows for self-reflection and self-discovery. Travelling solo gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself in unfamiliar situations.
Getting photos can be tricky - when travelling alone it's often awkward when you desperately want a great Instagrammable photo in front something you've travelled thousands of kilometers to see but you have no one with you to take that perfect photo. You may be too shy to ask others or concerned about handing over your expensive camera to a stranger. I often look for other people with a DSLR in the hope they know how to take a decent photo or ask a teenage girl (they know all the good angles for instagram!). I've also found that my GoPro comes in handy for getting good solo travel photos.
Having a Go Pro definitely comes in handy for solo travel photos!
Can be more expensive - there are times when travelling with a group or a partner can work out to be cheaper. For example, splitting the cost of taxis or an Airbnb is cheaper with a group of people than alone. However, in the Philippines, I was able to find some people in my hostel who were travelling in the same direction as me and we split a private car ride from Moalboal to Cebu which would've normally cost 1800 pesos to 600 pesos each which was a lot more affordable.
Can be lonely at times - there are often times when solo travel can become lonely. If you arrive at a hostel which isn't very sociable, are stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for the bus or just can't find anyone you click with it can be easy to feel lonely or isolated. I find the best ways to combat this is to FaceTime friends back home, go to a bar or join a tour the next day where you could meet other travellers.
Can potentially be dangerous - if you're not smart travelling solo can potentially be dangerous. Obviously walking alone at night has more inherit risks than walking with others and in some places, solo female travellers can attract a lot of unwanted attention. It's best to do your research and learn about the places you're going and the places to avoid.