Though solo travel is often romanticized, traveling alone has pros and cons. While it can be a liberating experience to go to a new country, it can also be challenging and nerve-wracking. And sometimes, you may only like the solo travel experience somewhat!
This post is for you if you are currently deciding on whether to travel solo. I have traveled solo around the US and abroad. I’ve experienced many of the many pros and cons of traveling alone. Let me break them down to help you make your own decision.
Cons of traveling alone
You pay more
Frequently we travel with friends or family to split the costs. However, when traveling solo, you are the one paying all the fees. This means that traveling solo can get expensive since there is no one to share the prices of ride chairs, food, and any activities you want to do while traveling alone.
You have to take your photos
I’m always down for photos while traveling. And when you are traveling alone, it can be more difficult because no one is there to take your picture. Therefore, you might miss out on some of the shots you want to get and show your family and friends when you return home.
Yet, hiring a photographer is an alternative to taking your photos when traveling alone. I did this while traveling solo in New Orleans, and it was a great idea. You could also ask a stranger if you want to avoid traveling with a tripod.
You are on the defensive
Solo traveling is one of the riskier forms of travel. It would help if you often trusted your gut when sharing information with people you meet. Many solo women travelers attract a lot of attention because we are solo, which is rare for women.
You are more likely to get lonely
A disadvantage of traveling alone is that you have no one to share the experiences with! Even if you book tours while you’re in various cities or countries, it is not the same when you travel with people versus the people you meet once you get there. These feelings can make you feel more lonely as you are traveling solo.
You need to navigate language barriers solo
Language barriers are inevitable. And depending on how you react to situations, the language barrier is something to prepare for before you leave. Adding a language barrier to that overwhelm is manageable. But you must be ready to embrace the learning and culture shock process.
You have to lie…a lot
One of my best solo women travel safety tips is to lie! I know it goes against what we learn as kids. However, when traveling solo, you need to lie to protect yourself.
In some cases, this means wearing a ring on your ring finger because people will try to talk to you if they know you’re not married. Or when you meet someone, you tell them you are meeting friends at your hostel. They are generally white lies but lie nonetheless.
You return home a different person
Honestly, this is one of the pros and cons of traveling alone. Though one of the advantages of traveling solo is that you change, sometimes change is uncomfortable. However, you will return home with a renewed perspective that can be hard to embrace around people or situations who do not share the same experience.
Pros of traveling alone
You get all the space
One of the advantages of traveling alone is not sharing your space. This space was handy during my solo train ride from Chicago to California on Amtrak! The scenic train takes 52 hours, a long time to occupy space with someone else. But whether you are on a train or in a private hostel room, your own space brings you peace on a solo trip.
You can do what you want
The most significant advantage of traveling alone is you do not have to answer to anyone! When you are traveling solo, you have more freedom and flexibility in your travels. Whether you want to sleep in or you want to get up early for a sunrise hike, you have the power to decide.
You can get reservations more easily
You will love traveling alone for all my traveling foodies who are also solo travelers. Since you are solo, it is easier to get reservations or even be able to walk into some of the most iconic places around the world. When in doubt, go to the bar!
You gain more confidence
There is nothing like navigating a new city or country solo. But, in addition to that, you learn so much about yourself when you are traveling solo. It increases your confidence and assertiveness, who you are, and what you can do.
You make more friends
Traveling alone has many pros and cons, but making friends is one of the advantages. When traveling solo, I make the most friends and am often only solo part of the time! Also, people are more likely to walk up to you in a conversation if you are by yourself.
This point is not to say that you can’t make friends while traveling in a group. On the contrary, I have made friends traveling solo and traveling with others. But, it is more likely to meet solo travelers in hostels or on tours alone because you are alone, and people want you to join in their fun too.
Your perspective on the world changes
Traveling alone gives you a lot of time to yourself to reflect! You learn about tourism and how to be a responsible tourist. During this time, you also learn from the world around you, unlearning ethnocentrism and overcoming culture shock. Your perspective on “normal” changes as you travel to understand other people’s cultures and customs.
You become more independent
There is nothing like testing your independence than going on a solo trip! Freedom is at the top of the list of all the advantages and disadvantages of traveling solo. It is freeing to be on your own, visiting iconic places such as London or Amsterdam alone. You are doing the damn thing, and that is worth celebrating.
Why you should not travel alone
Traveling alone is risky. You are often in places where you do not know anyone. You may not speak the language of the country you are in, which is unknown to you. As much as I love it, traveling solo is not for everyone! Getting easily frustrated, lonely, bored, or overwhelmed can make the experience more challenging.
On the other hand, those are all reasons to try it! Be challenged and get out of your comfort zone. Despite all the pros and cons of traveling alone, it is an experience everyone should do at least once. Then you can decide if it’s not for you.
In the end, is traveling alone a good idea?
As with everything, there are pros and cons of traveling alone. Some people do not like being alone for long periods but don’t mind shorter periods. Others can travel solo for months and then make strangers into friends along the way. It just depends on your personality!
I travel solo as a Black woman, and I think traveling alone is a good idea. You may only like to do it sometimes, but now and again, doing things alone is good for you. Solo travel, or even solo dates at home, helps you enjoy your own company. So don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it yet!
Are you looking to take a solo trip? Check out this post for tips to plan it like a pro.