Cape Town, South Africa

Pros and Cons of Travelling Solo

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Traveling alone can be very daunting for most people and I do agree that it is not the easiest thing to do. I have been traveling solo most of the time and have learnt a couple of things through my travels. You always end up meeting lots of people while traveling alone, and I have often enjoyed a big collection of fun temporary friends throughout my trips.

Traveling solo has its pros and cons — and for me, the pros far outweigh the cons and here are some of the pros.

  • When you’re on your own, you’re independent and in control of the when and where of your travels.
  • You can travel at your own pace, spend as much time as you want browsing through shops or sitting at a cafe enjoying a cappuccino and a good book. You can spend hours in an art museum or at the market getting to know the people of the city.
  • You can do the things that interest you and dont have to come to a compromise with your travel partner.
  • You’ll meet a lot of people as you’re seen as more approachable because you are sitting there all alone. If you stay in hostels, you’ll have a built-in family and there will always be someone who would like to join you.
  • You can eat where and when you like and nobody is going to make you feel guilty about having chocolate mouse for dinner.
  • Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience
  •  A lovely advantage is that you can splurge where and on what you want. You can spent the afternoon looking for the perfect souveneir or bag in the market and not feel as if somebody is willing you to hurry up.
  • You don’t have to wait for your partner to pack up, which while traveling with my mom I learned can take quite a while.
  • There is no need to negotiate when to call it a day or feel guilty about wanting to take a midday nap.
  • Traveling on your own allows you to be more present, absorb your surroundings and indulge in the new culture without distractions.
  • Solo travel is intensely personal. You end up discovering more about yourself at the same time as you’re discovering more about the country your traveling through.
  • Traveling on your own is fun, challenging, vivid, and exhilarating. Realizing that you have what it takes to be your own guide is a thrill known only to solo travelers.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

Of course, there are downsides to traveling alone and everything is not always roses and sunshine.

  • When you’re on your own, you don’t have a built-in dining companion. I usually spend my meals dividing my attention between my food and my book. I have found that good book,or even just postcards to write or your travel journal to jot in – are all legitimate activities at a bar or restaurant if you get to feeling a little bored/lonely/exposed, so carry one of them with you at all times.
  • You’ve got no one to send ahead while you wait in line, or stand in line while you go to the bathroom. Believe me that can be torture.
  • You have to figure out the bus schedule and train times on your own and this way end up at some very strange places.
  • There is nobody to help you when things go wrong or someone other than yourself to blame for taking the wrong bus or train.
  • Traveling by yourself is usually more expensive as you have to pay a single supplement in hotels. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.
  • Other things become cheaper too when you’re splitting costs, such as groceries, guidebooks, taxis, storage lockers, and more.
  • In much of the world, solo travellers – and single people in general – are seen as strange, even a bit unfortunate.
  • Sometimes, especially in more hospitable and foreigner-fascinated cultures like Egypt and Turkey, I’ve found the attention I got as a solo traveller to be a little intense. I had to learn how to say “no, thank you” in the local language, as well as “absolutely not” – plus the local nonverbal gesture for no, which was often more effective than both.
  • You are on hardly any of your holiday photos unless you ask a stranger to please take a photos of you. So definitely get a camera with a time delay setting as that way you at least have a couple of photos with you on them.

I can imagine what you’re thinking. You’ll be lonely, isolated, it’s dangerous, and only the young Birkenstock types travel by themselves. Think again.   If I can travel solo, anyone can. I’ve never been lonely, bored or felt threatened. Traveling solo is not necessarily more dangerous than going to the movies and dinner by yourself in your home town.

Advertisements

62 comments

  1. Great insight, Janaline, and just in time. I was considering a solo trip in the future. You live quite an amazing life. Thank you for following, and I look forward to reading about more of your adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your photos make me want to visit South Africa.
    With my pommepal Pauline.
    If you find the comparable person it is a great advantage.
    Other wise one is far better on there own.
    I have experienced both and the two things that stand out are.
    One person fits in in crowded places but to have no one to mind the bags you have to carry them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been traveling solo for 3 years now and I couldn’t stop nodding my head as I read your post. Particularly the not having someone to stand in line for you while you go to a toilet!! that has happened to me and it can lead to funny situations aka me trying to xplain to the lady behind me through various sign language that I needed to g but I would come back… only to return and have someone else be in the line and not the lady… but having someone from the other line talk to the other people in my line saying I was there before… at least I think thats what he said because suddenly they opened up a space in the line for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t done a lot of solo travel, a few short trips only but I agree with the pros and cons you’ve listed although I’m not so good at meeting new people and find the hostel situation daunting. I admire the variety of places you’ve travelled through as a solo traveller and imagine that learning how to say no in different ways has helped immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Solo vs Travel partner? I love traveling by myself. I find much cheaper. I don’t mind staying in the cheapest possible hostel, $3pn in Nepal. Where if I travel with my wife we still stay in hostels but in private rooms usually around $15pn. I love meeting new random people and being instant friends. I once shared a
    Cab in Kathmandu with a Swiss, we hung out the rest of the day. that night we met an Aussie backpacker, who invited us to dinner with her Chillian Friend, who showed us a great Shisha bar and tought me how to do smoke rings!!! That is pure traveling solo.
    Great post, i really loved it!

    Like

  6. I love traveling solo. But I have also enjoyed going with company. When you do though travel with someone you need to make sure that you almost have the same interests but you also have to give them time to enjoy the things they want to do on their own. I’ve been lucky so far when I travel, I always find someone who’s compatible.

    Like

    • You are very lucky Bebs! I must say that my mother is my perfect travel partner so far as we both enjoy the same things. And along the way I have also met 2 friends whom I will travel with again any day as we have so much fun when we are together.

      Like

  7. I took a trip earlier this year by myself, for the first time. Not having someone to wait in line while the car got parked was a definite negative! Otherwise, I enjoyed it for many of the reasons you listed above.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment – that was great!

    Nancy

    Like

  8. I do love this topic and I’m compelled to address it. I’ve traveled with friends and unless hell freezes over that wont happen again. I’ve traveled with my daughters and until they found vulgar rap music it was always great. I grew up in a road trippin’ family and so did my kids. The music you listen to is very important to the experience. I’ve traveled alone for years and love it – a weekend, week, month and my epic 2 years across North America. I began this trip when I was nearly 50 so age should never be an issue. I hope to do it again next time with my grandson until he stops doing what I tell him.

    let me add to your pros:
    – you don’t have to listen to the ghastly music your 20 something daughters think is cool.
    – when you find a great shot and ask your daughter to slow down – 70mph becomes the new “stop this car!”

    If you’re lonely – make a friend
    If you feel isolated – enjoy it while you can
    If you’re afraid of danger – do it afraid
    If you think you’re too old – run, don’t walk, get in your car and drive

    Like

  9. I admire your courage and honesty. I love to travel and have experienced all of the above situations. It’s torture to chose a place that your traveling partner finds boring and can’t wait to leave. I enjoyed your posts and photos. Great job!

    Like

  10. I mostly travel on my own….and I mostly love it. There’s the odd time when I think oh i wish so and so were here to share this, and social media to a certain extent is always with me : ))

    Like

  11. Hi Janaline! Here I was thinking you were on blogging vacation when I think I had somehow unfollowed you. 😀 Strange but I’m glad to see your posts in my inbox again.
    I agree that the satisfaction and tremendous feeling of achievement in travelling alone hugely outweighs any worries. If someone isn’t sure about travelling alone, I don’t think you have to start big. Try going to dinner or a movie and then an overnight or weekend away. Bit by bit, you can build to something perhaps far beyond your comfort zone. Something else I discovered travelling solo was that I was only alone when I chose to be. 🙂 Thanks for posting this!

    Like

    • Good morning Hilary!! Have been a bit caught up with work and family lately so haven’t had the chance to post as much as I would want to, but hope to rectify that soon. Yes, people should start small, as the thought of dining solo is already daunting enough for a lot of people.

      Like

      • Great! And I’ll make sure not to unfollow you. Still don’t know how that happened. 😀 Oh yes. My sister has been going to movies alone for years and I thought she was so brave until I went to my first movie alone… in BKK! It wasn’t so bad once I decided I was going to do it. The other option was to go back outside into over 40 C so it wasn’t a hard decision. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve traveled solo before and I agree with you completely. I don’t care for someone else managing my time, or directing where I go. Then again, I’ve traveled a lot with my wife too, and luckily for me, our interests coincide. So the cons of traveling with someone don’t usually come into play. Lucky me. An Excellent post and fantastic photos. Loved it all.

    Like

    • Thank you. I admit that the cons of travelling with someone is not applicable everywhere. My perfect travel partner is my mom as we have loads of fun together and always enjoy the same places and things so we have never had to compromise or fight during our travels.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Have never traveled solo, but have met some of the most interesting solo travelers along the way. They seem to be well seasoned and have learned the ropes. When traveling with someone, I think it is good to build in some “break-a-way” time from each other. You really have put some thought into your pros and cons, Janaline and have had much experience.

    Like

  14. Just came back from a week-end trip to Vienna (not quite travelling the world…. ) with a friend, who was not really into “capuccino drinking” and “Art @ the Albertina”. I wished several times to quickly get lost for an hour or so, in order to finally fall back into my little (bad) habits, like hanging around just watching people, writing some lines and slowly (!) eat one piece of cake after the other in some cosy pastry shop. Travelling alone is great, and I am happy to read your perfect summary looking at this question “to be or not to be -solo?” !

    Like

  15. I love your take on doing it solo. I’ve travelled alone as well as with friends/family. If I’m doing it solo I’ve only got myself to blame if I don’t make it to watch the sun rise over places like Sossusvlei. On the other hand my trip to Mozambique wouldn’t have been the same without my sister-in-law who is the perfect laid back travelling companion. I’m off to Thailand next – this time solo – and the single supplement on the organised tour I’ve booked is surprisingly small. Even if it was a bit more expensive I would still pay: Sometimes it’s worth paying the premium for some “headspace” and not having to compromise with someone you barely know.

    Like

    • I do agree with that, some companies now actually cater for solo travelers as well so that you don’t have to pay such a huge supplement and that way you still get to experience everything out there! Enjoy Thailand, it is a fabulous place to travel and you are going to have an amazing time!

      Like

  16. The solo traveller tends to travel further…and is more open to the culture around them…staying in hotels is more expensive but I prefer staying in hostel dorms when travelling solo…a great way to meet others too…better than the anonymity of a hotel. It would be nice to have someone keep an eye on the luggage while I pop to the bathroom, but that is a minor disadvantage compared to the major advantages of travelling solo. Keep on travelling and blogging 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you and I definitely agree with the part of having someone watch over the luggage while you head to the restroom. I also found that staying in hostels makes one feel less lonely and that way you also do get to meet more people while travelling.

      Like

  17. Although I’d love to have a partner everytime I go on trips, I’ve learnt most times there ends up being too many problems because of personality clashes, one of us not wanting to compromise, etc!

    Like

Please share your thoughts,I want to know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s