Is Solo Travel Worth It? The Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone
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Is solo travel Worth it? If you are asking yourself this question or, if your family asks you every time you are living for another epic trip, you have landed in the right place!
When it comes to traveling, there are a lot of different ways to go about it. Think of the last time you went on vacation.
Chances are, you had someone to go with – a friend, a partner, or maybe even your whole family. But what if you could travel solo and not have to worry about coordinating schedules or dealing with other people’s quirks?
Solo travel can be a great way to see the world and have new experiences. You’re free to go where you want when you want, and you don’t have to worry about coordinating schedules or personalities.
That being said, solo travel can also be lonely and stressful at times. You have to be extra vigilant about safety, and it can be hard to find someone to talk to when you’re feeling homesick.
There’s no right answer – ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether solo travel is worth it for you. But if you’re open to new experiences and willing to step out of your comfort zone, solo travel can be an incredibly rewarding way to see the world.
So what are the pros and cons of traveling alone? Let’s take a look.
Is solo travel worth it? 5 reasons why it is
1. Your confidence will flourish
One of the best things about solo travel is that it can really help to boost your confidence. When you’re by yourself in a new place, you’ll have to learn how to navigate your way around, figure out where you’re going, and deal with any obstacles that come your way.
This can be a great way to build up your confidence, as you’ll learn to rely on yourself and trust your own abilities. You might even surprise yourself with how resourceful you can be!
Honestly, this was one of the biggest pros for me when I was solo traveling. I went from being a person who often felt insecure and cared what people thought of me, to becoming someone who could strike up a conversation and make friends with anyone in a hostel.
2. You’ll make new friends easier
When you’re traveling with friends it’s very easy to stick to yourself and not branch out as much. Yes, you’ll still meet people and make new friends but it’s nowhere near as easy compared to when you’re traveling solo.
When you’re by yourself you tend to put yourself out there a lot more, you also tend to gravitate toward other solo travelers.
Once you get chatting you’ll probably find that you’ve got similar tourist hotspots you want to hit or tours you want to do, and hey you’ve just made a friend you could do those with!
I often found this was the case when I got chatting with other travelers in hostels and it meant I actually didn’t get stuck doing much by myself at all. A huge win.
3. No compromising
Another great thing about solo travel is that you’ll have a lot more freedom and flexibility when it comes to your itinerary aka no compromising. You can do what you like, whenever you like.
You won’t have to worry about anyone else’s needs or wants, you can just focus on what YOU want to do.
4. You’ll be pushed outside of your comfort zone
Whether you think this is a good thing or not, trust me, it is a GOOD thing. If we stay within our comfort zones all our lives then we’d never really grow or learn. You’d also never know what you’re truly capable of.
How many times have you thought to yourself, “Oh I could never do that” only to find that you actually CAN if you set your mind to it? Well just imagine how much you’ll accomplish by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis when exploring the world solo!
Solo travel can be scary, I get it. But the truth is, if you embrace your fears and travel anyway, it’s one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences you’ll ever have.
5. It’s possible to score free accommodation
You read that right. Free accommodation is completely achievable when traveling solo. The trade-off? It means volunteering in a hostel which is actually a TON of fun and not much of a trade-off at all.
Yes, you’re working, but it’s not serious work. It’s usually day-to-day tasks that need to be done in order to keep the hostel running.
In a hostel in Mexico, I worked in a reception during the day and in return, I received not only free accommodation but free breakfast and dinner as well, which was cooked by the chef.
We were also allowed to go out to some of the nightclubs with the guests for free or on some of the tours if they weren’t sold out.
Then in Portugal, I got free accommodation, free food (which I had to cook but meals weren’t limited to just breakfast and dinner), and free surf lessons as it was a surf hostel!
The experiences that I got from volunteering at these two hostels were awesome and 110% something I would recommend to other solo travelers.
It’s a fantastic way to save some money and make some unbeatable memories.
If you are more of an introvert and you love being on your own and you love pets, you could find housesitting places where you get to live in a nice house in exchange for taking care of the animals (and sometimes plants)
The downside of traveling alone and how to fix it
► Staying safe while on your own
Safety is a big one when it comes to solo travel. You certainly need to have your wits about you all the time, combine this with a bit of common sense, and most of the time you’ll be fine.
Remember to take all the necessary precautions (like letting people back home know where you are), have a bit of extra money saved up in case of emergencies, and most importantly – trust your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
You’re always going to find safety in numbers so making friends is super important when it comes to staying safe too.
There are a few other keys things you can do to help keep yourself safe:
✔️ Book accommodation in advance (even just a day or two ahead is fine) so you’re not wandering around with all your belongings looking for a place to stay
✔️ Don’t accept drinks from strangers
✔️ Don’t leave your food or drinks out of sight
✔️ Don’t wander off down dark alleys or quiet streets by yourself
✔️ Try not to draw too much attention to yourself (i.e. don’t flaunt your valuables around)
► Feeling lonely
When traveling solo it is a lot easier to feel lonely but there’s an easy fix for that which is staying in hostels or going out on group tours.
Whenever I travel solo, more often than not I chose to stay in a hostel because I know that I’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. But how do you know they’re like-minded? Well, they’ve chosen to travel to the same country as you and stay in the same hostel so surely you must have something in common right?!
Put yourself out there, get chatting with others about what their plans are while they’re here and soon enough any feelings of loneliness will disappear.
If you’d still rather give the hostels a miss but are worried about feeling lonely then be sure to book yourself on a few group tours. If it’s the kind of tour where they take a larger group size then you’re bound to make friends, easy peasy.
► There can be a lot to organize (or not)
This one comes down to how you like to travel and for me personally, I liked to wing it a lot of the time.
If you’re someone who likes to research a place before they go and have everything planned out and booked ahead of time, that’s great but remember you’re going to have to do all that organizing yourself, there isn’t anyone to split the load with.
If you tend to be a very organized person then that probably doesn’t bother you, however, if you’d rather not do everything by yourself then the fix is rather easy – simply cut back the time spent on organizing and planning your travels.
That may sound a little crazy, but hear me out.
How many times have you found yourself traveling to a place, only to hear a great recommendation from a local or a fellow traveler but because you’ve already planned out your entire trip, you can’t possibly squeeze it in?
The thing with planning less is you DO have time to add in extra activities or explore a different part of the city in the spur of the moment.
In fact, I actually preferred to travel this way! You give yourself so much more flexibility. It made it easier to make friends too and then I could work my plans in with theirs if I wanted to so we could do activities as a group or even travel to the same cities together.
The only time this bit me in the bum was when I traveled to Greece in peak season, whoops. It cost me a bit more in the end but I still had an awesome time.
I guess the moral of the story is if you know you’re visiting a particular place in peak season where accommodation books out then it’s probably worth booking that in advance.
► You have no one to watch your stuff
When it comes to traveling solo you have to think a bit more about how you are going to keep your stuff safe, while you’re taking a dip in the ocean for example.
The simplest solution is to just take less stuff with you. A smaller bag means there’s less for you to keep an eye on and if it does happen to get stolen, you haven’t lost everything.
Smaller bags, such as a flat travel pouch are also easy to hide under a beach towel or under a sunhat. Keep it inconspicuous and you should be okay.
Alternatively, you can make friends so that you’ve got someone to visit the beach with. Often this is what I would do so I never had to worry too much about having my stuff stolen.
Some hostels even do trips to the beach as part of the daily activities they run.
► You have no one to take photos of you
When it comes to taking photos when traveling solo there are a few options, first, you can ask a stranger to take your photo, a pretty common solution. Or if you’re out and about with some of the new friends you’ve made, you can always ask them.
If that isn’t going to fly then why not invest in a travel tripod? You won’t have trouble taking your own travel photos ever again! A tripod is how I took most of my solo travel photos.
A GoPro is another great option and you’ve got the added bonus of being able to take it underwater. A must if you’re in a beautiful tropical location and plan to do some snorkeling.
Or as a last resort, you could always put your phone on a selfie stick but we all know that looks a little naff these days. Times have moved on!
► Getting homesick
Yes, this is a con of traveling alone but don’t forget that it’s also a con of traveling in general. Everybody gets homesick at one point or another.
The best thing to do whenever you feel homesick is to reach out to family or one of your close friends and just have a chat. Admitting your homesickness will often make you feel a lot better.
Then the other thing you can do is try to be really present in the place that you’re in. Take a look at your surroundings and remember why you traveled there.
Was it because you were super excited to swim at a particularly secluded beach or hike a beautiful mountain?
Reminding yourself of these awesome memories, whether they have or haven’t happened yet, will help the feeling of homesickness fade STAT.
Is solo travel more expensive?
Some people say yes it is, some people say no it’s not and what it comes down to at the end of the day, is it totally depends on how you want to travel.
If you’re someone who is happy to stay in hostels and pay for a bed in a shared dorm then that is going to be a whole lot less expensive than paying for an Airbnb or hotel room.
When you are traveling solo you are completely in control of how you want to spend your money. Want a budget meal instead of eating out at a restaurant? That’s totally your call and you don’t have to make any compromises.
There are always going to be costs that pop up along the way that would be easier to split with someone. Take renting a car, for example, if you’re solo then there’s nobody to split the costs with.
However the public transport in most major cities these days is pretty reliable and Omio is a fantastic resource to help you to plan how to get from A to B using public transport, so unless you particularly want to get off the beaten track, I personally don’t think you need to be hiring a car when you’re traveling solo.
Tours are the same, simply book with a company that takes on multiple groups rather than private bookings and you won’t wind up paying an extra for being solo.
You’ll also get the chance to meet others! Tours booked directly through Hostels are great for this as you’re pretty likely to be with other solo travelers.
How can I decide if solo traveling is right for me?
The only person that’s going to be able to answer this question, is yourself. At the end of the day, it really depends on what YOU want to get out of the experience.
Whenever someone is contemplating traveling solo, I always tell them YES go for it! This is because I experienced so much growth and change, all while making incredible memories and if anyone else has the opportunity to do the same, well they should just bite the bullet and do it.
I’m a total advocate not just of solo travel, but solo female travel as well. I loved exploring the city of Lisbon and island hopping in Greece. Solo travel is never something you’ll regret, no matter how long or short the trip.
You’re always guaranteed to learn something about yourself, as cheesy as that sounds!
Is Solo travel worth it? Final thoughts
The short answer? Yes, yes it is!
It’s not for everybody but if you think it might be for you or if you’re even open to just considering the idea then as I said above, my advice would be to go ahead and do it.
You’ll probably wind up surprising yourself and who knows, maybe you’ll prefer traveling solo over traveling as a group!
After reading this post, I hope you’re now a little more informed about what to expect when traveling solo and the pros and cons of doing so.
About the Author – Sammy Green is a solo female traveler from New Zealand. She spent a year exploring the world by herself and won’t hesitate to tell you it was the best thing she ever did. Having traveled to 20 countries and counting, she’s seen a fair amount of the world.