A little preface: Honestly, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to run a travel-focused blog whilst not traveling. That being said, I still want to blog about my gap year and past adventures and everything travel! I’ll probably be shifting the content of my posts from location-location-location to more broad travel posts.
I have no idea how this is going to end up, but here goes!
Traveling Alone v Traveling with Others
The way I see it, there’s no “better option” in the traveling solo v traveling with people debate. The two are completely different, and with one, you’re bound to have a totally different experience from the other. There are pros and cons to each, and although I have my preferences, I enjoy both traveling with friends and traveling by myself immensely.
Traveling with Others Pros:
- Bonding: When traveling with friends, a boyfriend, a giant group, family, whoever, you’re bound to make a billion memories together. You’ll share experiences with the other people in a way that is completely and entirely your own; no one but the two (or more) of you could understand. You’ll bond and laugh and cry and go through a billion different emotions together. You’ll have bad days and good days together and come home from the trip knowing more about each other than ever imagined.
- Comfort: It’s incredibly nice to have someone to explore with, someone constantly by your side and easing the discomfort of that 15 hour bus ride or the awkwardness of saying that random foreign word completely wrong. It’s bringing a little piece of security with you everywhere you go; even if you both are completely scared or uncomfortable, you’re feeling it together.
- Entertainment: You will never, ever, be bored. Having another person to chat with or share music with can make or break those long hours travelling from place to place.
- Encouragement: Travel companions will push you to do things you never expected to do, and (most) of those things will end in wonderful experiences. You’ll conquer more fears and learn and experience more with someone by your side, encouraging you to do everything you’ve ever wanted to do (even if you were a little apprehensive to at first).
Traveling with Others Cons:
- Disagreements: Sometimes, the ways two people travel don’t match up. This can lead to disappointment from both sides, and sometimes is easy to work out (with compromise). Other times, not so much. Traveling with another person is a responsibility in the sense that you can’t be selfish; you have to care for another person and cater to their needs as well.
- Itineraries: You might want to see one thing, whilst your friends want to see others. There will be a lot of compromise whilst traveling, and sometimes that results in not being able to see everything you wanted to see or do everything you wanted to. That being said, you might end up loving what you didn’t want to do in the first place! You’ll be going outside the box, doing things you didn’t necessarily want to do, and you may end up finding a new love or passion in the process.
Traveling Solo Pros:
- Growth: I’ve found that I grow oodles more traveling solo than with people. Being alone gives you much more time to be introspective and to learn things about yourself and the world around you. You’re taught a billion lessons about everything and more. Traveling alone puts everything on you; you’re the one in charge of making sure you’ve packed everything and researched what needed to be researched. There’s no one else to rely on, which causes you to put your big girl/boy pants on and mature. My first day on the Annapurna Circuit, completely alone, sweating buckets, and legs shaking, was probably the most apprehensive I’ve ever felt. I was unsure of my decision in trekking solo and taking on this trek completely unprepared, but that trek led me to some of the best moments of my life, and I know had I gone trekking with another person from the start, I wouldn’t have grown half as much.
- Freedom: You’re free to see and do what you want, eat what you want, meet who you want. Traveling alone gives you all control over your trip, allowing you to plan every detail out or let serendipity be your guide. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to travel, as you’re free to do whatever your heart desires.
- People: When traveling alone, you meet a bunch of people, traveling with groups, or like you, solo. The people I’ve met whilst traveling alone have resulted in closer, longer lasting relationships, full of memories about that one place you explored together. Traveling alone has led to more friendships than I ever expected it could.
Travelling Solo Cons:
- Boredom: I won’t lie; traveling alone can be really boring. Those overnight trains and 7 hour ferry rides are not nearly as exciting or fun without someone to complain and laugh and talk with. If you’re traveling alone, bring something to do, whether that be music to listen to or a journal to write in or cards to meet people with.
- Security: You’re relying on yourself and only yourself. It’s scary to attempt to speak a new language or find your way in an unfamiliar setting, and when traveling alone, you have no one to reassure you that everything will be okay. It seems like a small detail, but the security of other people is a much bigger deal than you think.
- Saying Goodbye: This is probably the worst part of traveling solo. During your solo trip, you’ll have met wonderful people and explored a city or country completely on your own, and leaving it is absolutely terrible. Seeing the people you’ve met sometime in the future is never guaranteed. The country you’ve visited and fallen in love with will change. Nothing will ever be the way it was when you were there. Whilst traveling alone, you feel so much more rooted to a country, and saying goodbye is painful and sad and utterly miserable.
Honestly, either way, you can’t go wrong. Travel is travel, and you’ll make good and bad memories in either situation. Sometimes, certain places are more fun traveling solo, and others are more fun traveling with people. It depends on the circumstances.
I also find that an experience in one city can be totally different depending on whether you have company or not. I’ve been to the same city and done the same things alone AND solo, neither experience being similar.
Take advantage of any travel you decide to do; it will never end in regret.