Pros And Cons Of Travelling Solo

For one reason or another, since I was 16 years old (and as such, allowed to take trips without adult supervision)  I've been hopping up and down trains and planes completely on my own. Having no other option - my mother was working practically 24/7, my brother was way too young and my friends enjoyed our hometown much more than I did - I never even wondered what travelling in a group was like! However, since then I've found many people who are ready to jump on the first available bus with me towards unknown destinations; having experienced both methods, I can now draw some conclusions...

Advantages of travelling alone

1. You can choose your own itinerary

Let's make it clear: I'm the planner. Maybe it's just because I've always done it, but I want to decide (and to know) where to go, what to see, how to spend the day. Going around with friends, I sometimes had to give up this privilege - and I haven't always liked the outcome. Being on your own, you can arrange your itinerary based on your interests, or even improvise the whole journey.

2. Hurry up or take loads of pictures - just go at your own pace

Even if you're the fittest and most passionate walker ever, you too may have moments in which you want to slow down, or take a taxi, or stop at that super-kitsch-but-cute souvenir shop. And no one is there to disagree or push you further.

3. There's always space for one more person

Whatever happens - your train is cancelled, the hostel is fully booked, a bunch of school children took over the cute bistro you wanted to have lunch in - it is relatively easy to find some other place to go if you're alone. Some hotels will go as far as lowering their price if they get the chance to occupy that last free room.

4. It's the perfect chance to find new friends

You have no one to stay with, no comfort zone to escape into - so you're even more encouraged to stand up and start chit chatting with your hostel mates, or with your walking tour guide, or whoever comes around.

5. No need to talk - enjoy your own company

Have you had enough of empty talking, of people asking you favors, of compromising? Well, going solo is the perfect chance to relax, be yourself completely and recharge your social skills batteries. I confess that, being all the time with someone (flatmates, classmates, colleagues, friends), I sometimes just leave and take time on my own. It's almost a physical need!

Disadvantages of travelling alone

1. You may not always feel safe

Especially when you're young, and female, walking on your own in some areas or late at night may not be the safest option. Being in a group is no insurance either, but it's certainly better - and allows you to go places you wouldn't be able to head to on your own.

2. No one is taking selfies with you

I'm not personally a fan of selfies - I like landscape pictures much more - but it was nice appearing in some photos, and being able to show them to my family when I got back. This happened only when I was with someone else, because a) my phone's camera sucks b) I can't take decent selfies. You're much more likely to take pictures of yourself when you have company, just because it gets much funnier!

3. You mostly need to stick to hostels

Unless your travelling budget is higher than mine, when travelling alone hostels dormitories are the only cheap option available - which may be amazing, but also very challenging (especially if you want to get a good night's sleep). On the other hand, when you're three or more people you can get a whole flat for yourself and split the cost! I recently experienced renting a flat in Helsinki through Airbnb for the first time, and it was amazingly comfortable.

4. You get bored more easily

There's no avoiding it: unless you really like your own company or have planned a 24-hour-full trip, you will eventually get bored - for example while waiting for your plane to leave, or during a ferry trip. I once went to England all alone for two weeks, and ended up talking to myself during the never-ending coach journeys I took because I finished all my music, books and magazines.

5. No one's encouraging you to buy that enormous brownie

Which may be a good thing, or not. On your own, you're more likely to do what's strictly necessary: this may save you money and time, but you'll leave behind the crazy choices that sometimes lighten up your day - and you often regret not taking them afterwards!

I don't really have a favourite way of travelling: it depends on my mood, on the destination and on the people you are leaving with. Sometimes you need to unwind a bit, and other times you just want to share experiences with someone. There's no best option - just choose the one that suits you better in this moment of your life!

Pictures by FrugalTravelGuy and TinyBuddha

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