When you travel solo, you will have your ups and downs. I traveled solo several times and I generally find that traveling under seven days is fun, but traveling solo for more than ten days is emotionally draining. For shorter trips, my schedule is packed full of museums, great restaurants, and things to do. Whereas with a longer trip, there is more downtime.
Advantages of Solo Travel
- You are not confined by someone else’s schedule. You may have a very flexible schedule with a lot of time off, but your significant other might only have two weeks of paid vacation. You’re missing out on a lot of travel due to their schedule. You could either (1) do a solo trip, (2) go a few days earlier or later on the trip than your travel companion, or (3) find a friend that can take that time off.
- You get to do what you want. If you want to go shopping all day, you can go shopping all day. If you want to visit some random museum, you don’t have to drag someone against their will to it. Or if you want to do an expensive activity or stay at an expensive hotel, and your friend has a tight budget, you either have to split up or do the cheaper option.
- You can stay at a hostel for cheap. Hostels are designed for solo travelers and are much cheaper than a hotel room (see our Hostels section). They are also a great place to meet people, but there are a lot of disadvantages due to the lack of privacy and potential noise from other people.
Disadvantages of Solo Travel
- If you stay at hotels, it’s expensive. Hotels generally charge by the room, not the number of guests. Whereas hostels charge by the person. If you are staying at hotels as a solo traveler, it can get pretty expensive since there is no one to share the cost with. (Same goes for taxis, Uber, and rental cars).
- Safety– There is safety in numbers. Stay with a group at night and don’t go out to a remote place alone. Additionally, getting sick or injured abroad as a solo traveler is an awful experience.
- It can be lonely. If you are new to solo travel, start with a small trip first and work your way up. If you do a huge solo trip off the bat, you may find that you hate traveling solo, which may ruin your trip.
- Stay busy. “Idle hands make fretful minds.” Stay busy with activities, delicious restaurants, and experiences, and you will have a much better time.
- Give your family a detailed itinerary. Google Sheets (similar to Excel) is a great way to do this. I list what city I am in, the hotel I am staying at, my activities for the day, and the flights I am taking. This allows your family to quickly figure out where you might be if something bad were to ever happen to you.
- Don’t walk alone at night (especially for females). If you are in a foreign country, you don’t really know which areas are considered “safe.” So avoid going out alone. If you are staying at a hostel, many of the guests there usually go out together. So be social and join their group.
- Try to be social. This will be hard for introverted people. Try to chat up fellow travelers. You can usually easily spot them. I generally ask “where are you from?” Tours and hostels are usually where you can meet people the easiest.
- Don’t Get Drunk. Even if you are going with a large group of fellow solo travelers, don’t get drunk in a foreign country when traveling solo. Your friends and family will take care of you when you’re drunk, but strangers you recently met are likely to abandon you.