Everyone talks about the beauty of traveling alone. But the real question is: is solo travel worth it?
Many people feel uncomfortable or out of place eating alone. Others have never traveled without anyone before. And going to a new place where you know no one does not seem safe.
Planning your first solo trip can also seem tiring because filling your time while traveling can be a hefty task. But I promise you the adventure will reap the best rewards. As someone who travels solo often, I’m here to answer, “Is solo travel worth it?”
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Is solo travel fun?
Solo travel is fun! Movies such as Eat, Pray, Love make it seem like you must be on this introspective retreat while traveling solo. But only some think that it is a fun solo trip.
When planning your solo trip, it’s whatever you make it! Some solo travelers enjoy adventurous experiences such as volcano boarding in Nicaragua or safari in South Africa. But the best part about solo traveling is that “fun” is whatever you decide because it is your solo trip.
Is solo travel safe?
Every city and country varies in how safe solo female travelers are. And at face value, traveling solo is unsafe because the world is not as safe for women as it should be. However, there are many tips and tricks to feeling safer.
How much money do you need to travel solo?
When debating if solo travel is worth it, funds are a huge part of the conversation. Traveling alone is inherently more expensive because you only pay for everything. There is no one else to split drinks with or the cost of a hotel room.
Yet, there are some strategies to make it work with your budget. Booking a hostel dorm is a popular way to cut cars as a solo traveler. But at the end of the day, the expenses in your solo travel budget are based on your traveling style.
Advantages of traveling alone
Meeting new people
There is this aura that gravitates toward solo travelers. It makes it easy to make friends! Just walk up to someone, give them a genuine compliment, and watch what happens. Also, staying in hostels is a right of passage as a solo traveler, where many of us meet other solo travelers.
No one tells you to what to do
The pure freedom and flexibility of solo travel are unmatched. There is no one telling you when to wake up for a tour. Therefore you can sleep in, stay out all night, and do whatever you want. It is your solo trip, and you decide what to do. Where else are you going to get that type of freedom nowadays?
Solo travel increases your confidence
Is solo travel worth it if that means your confidence increases? I say so! Many solo female travelers describe being alone on the road as empowering. While traveling solo, you are responsible for yourself and plan a trip from start to finish, which means you also enhance skills like problem-solving.
You become a better decision-maker
Being on your own as a solo traveler makes you a better decision-maker. You must stand by all your “yes” and “no” answers. When offered unexpected experiences with new friends, or people who want to be more than friends, it’s all on you to decide what to do next. By trusting yourself more on a solo trip, you are more in tune with your mindset and can make the best judgments for yourself.
There is more time to self-reflect
One of the most significant benefits of traveling alone is self-reflection time. Some of the best times to journal and self-reflect are long bus rides to different cities, tours, or even on a plane. Building in that rest time is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your feelings during your solo trip. Those journal entries also make for great memories once you reminisce back home.
Improve your language skills
Though navigating a new country and language may be daunting, there are benefits. As a solo traveler, you can practice the local language as much as possible. Solo travelers can talk to people at markets, events, hostels, and more to increase their language skills. You can also take classes if you are doing more long-term solo travel.
Becoming a trailblazer in your family
Traveling is already a privilege. But many people never solo travel, and this includes my family. I was one of the first in my family to study abroad, let alone live abroad. And now, as a Black solo female traveler, I am a trailblazer amongst my relatives for how I’ve chosen to travel independently despite racism and sexism.
Thus one of the unexpected benefits of solo traveling is setting the trend. Whether it’s with your friend group or family, traveling alone is a courageous act. You never know who you will impact with your decisions and sharing your experiences.
Disadvantages of traveling alone
Solo travel is risky
Using solo travel safety tips can help reduce the risk of traveling alone. However, there is only one way to be completely safe traveling alone. So as adventurous as traveling solo may be, know that it will require a bit of courage.
Figuring out how to travel alone
Traveling alone does require a slight learning curve in the beginning. Thus, figuring out how to travel alone for the first time can be difficult. That first solo trip is a new, out-of-the-box experience. It may take time to get used to, but it’s worth it in the end.
Loneliness is possible
I don’t believe any solo traveler who says they have never gotten lonely while traveling alone. Getting lonely is a natural response to being alone for days or weeks. Loneliness is possible; however, in my experience, it is uncommon. Those moments are fleeting, yet they do happen!
Fear of boredom
Boredom is one of the biggest concerns for aspiring solo travelers. And to be honest, you can get bored on a solo trip. However, avoid getting caught up in that mindset. If you plan correctly and give yourself some time to rest amid your activities, boredom will be tough.
Not knowing the language
Is solo travel worth it if you don’t know the language? Well, it depends. This is a common question when discussing the ups and downs of traveling alone. Not understanding the language of the folks around you can be challenging to handle alone.
Yet, enjoying a place where you don’t know the language is not impossible. For nervous first-time solo travelers, visit a place where you can speak the language. But with devices such as Pocket Talk and the Google Translate app, you can navigate sites more quickly than you think.
Traveling to the unknown
Booking a solo trip worldwide is full of surprises when you are unfamiliar with the country. Though it sounds cool, it can be challenging. Traveling into the unknown can be an adrenaline rush, giving you nervous butterflies. Embrace all the emotions because it makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
While this can also be an advantage of solo traveling, self-navigation is sometimes a pain. For example, as a solo female traveler, you must learn the street names in foreign cities. Plus, on trips to places such as Amsterdam, there are cultural customs to discover, including how to avoid walking in bike lanes.
Handling racism solo
Is solo travel worth it if you face the same racism at home? As a Black solo female traveler, I ponder this question often. Even though I love traveling and will continue to do so, this is a fear I have when traveling alone.
One of the downsides, when you have a racist encounter abroad is that there’s no one else around but you. Not having that community to lean on for support in those tense moments isn’t ideal. I often choose to diffuse the situation as much as I can. I also recommend journaling, calling a loved one back home (no matter the time of day) and allowing yourself to scream or cry when you get to your accommodations. Whatever you do, don’t hold those emotions throughout the trip.
Should I travel alone as a woman?
When deciding to travel alone, there can be a lot of solo travel anxiety. From safety to boredom, pursuing a solo adventure takes guts and courage. Traveling alone takes a lot of common sense and trusting your instincts to keep yourself safe.
Overall it is not recommended that women travel alone. And an extra layer of fear is added for Black women. But there are exceptions to every societal norm. Thus, it is not a question of whether women should travel alone. It is a question of if solo travel right for you?
So what is the answer? Is solo travel worth it? The only person who can answer that question is you. And knowing how you operate alone before you travel can shed a lot of light on how you will behave when you travel alone.
Why I solo travel and think it’s worth it
As a Black woman solo traveler, I believe women should take at least one solo trip. Solo travel has led me to visit Monkey Island in Panama, hike volcanoes in Guatemala, and live out my foodie dreams in Mexico City. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything else in the world.
Also, for people who look like me, travel was not meant for us. My Black American ancestors could barely leave their houses to due racism in the U.S. I do not take my travel privileges lightly.
Whether in your home country or abroad, all women deserve the freedom and flexibility of just taking care of themselves for once. It may not be your choice every time you travel. However, traveling solo can be a life-changing experience if you embrace the possibilities. Good luck!
Are you looking to learn more about the ups and downs of solo travel? If yes, then read this.