There are many articles on the internet about encouraging people to travel solo. So many that we are sometimes wondering, is it really that brave to travel alone?
We both have traveled through Australia on different occasions with a group of people. There is something incredibly fun about it, enjoying all the fun moments together and generally having a good time. The absolute best thing about it is that you can combine each other’s strengths and weaknesses and divide tasks among each other: One person is looking at the map for directions, another is researching about attractions. Finding accommodation, cooking, driving, choosing the music and counting lamp posts. There is something one person can do better than the other.
As long as everyone is energetic about it and contributes their share of work to the planning, it will lead to an unforgettable and fun experience. But, of course, there is a reason many people advise for traveling alone instead.
Going on a trip with other people is not really like meeting friends for a weekend. You will be constantly together for weeks or months, sharing every part of your life with these people, except maybe the toilet and shower. Little differences you have will become a big deal after more than a week together, and there is even a chance that you will hate each other’s guts towards the end of the trip.
You will value every bit of space you can get for yourself and start to constantly look for opportunities thereof. It’s not rare that a pair or group of people traveling together separates in the middle of their trip because they can never agree on the direction to go or the things to do. I’ve met many solo travelers that didn’t start out solo but split from their traveling partner(s) mid-trip.
So, is solo-travel all that much better? I recall the first time traveling alone. Navigating a new place all by yourself, finding local transport options, planning the route, looking for accommodation, communicating with local people in a language you might not know… it can all be quite nerve-wracking. You start to enhance your senses and become very aware of things around you because you don’t have anyone to rely on.
But solo-travel is of course very rewarding for yourself. You get a massive boost of confidence by successfully navigating a foreign country by yourself. It’s an incredible sense of freedom to be able to go wherever you want without having to consult anyone but yourself. Any loneliness you feel can be compensated by other travelers interest about you and your trip.
I easily remember the first time I stayed in a hostel all by myself. I know myself as a bit of an introverted person and talking to strangers usually requires my confidence to climb a small mountain each time. Strangely, this mountain wasn’t there whenever I met other people in this hostel and I wondered “Is this really me? Is it me talking to these strangers and quickly making friends with them?” It was a relieving factor to know that I never really had to feel lonely if there were other travelers around.
But you cannot always count on finding other people. There is a great deal of loneliness involved in solo-travel no matter how extroverted you are. In many many cases you’ll want to share the moment with someone. There are times you walk into the local nightclub alone in hope to find someone to party with and go back alone again. And times when you stay in a hotel room alone and can’t talk to anyone about the things you saw and experienced.
Make it work together
So it seems no matter which way you travel, there is always a compromise. I’ve traveled both in a group and solo before and knew the advantages and disadvantages of both ways and, like many others, preferred solo travel for most of my time. Until I met Yuily.
Traveling together with other persons can be incredibly satisfying and in the most ideal case include both of the advantages mentioned above and none of the disadvantages. Complementing each other goes a long way and leads to everyone having a better experience. Socializing can still be done by being open to people and not confined to your traveling partner(s).
Of course having no differences at all is an ideal situation that does not exist. Me and Yuily had plenty of different ideas when we were traveling together, but by being open to each other’s suggestions we, more often than not, said “Wow, thank you for convincing me, I’m glad we have gone there / done this / seen that.”.
We realize that it is incredible luck to find a traveling partner that you are 100% happy and would go to the end of the world with, so it’s not like we’re dismissing the advantages of solo travel altogether. In fact for many people it has worked out better solo. And again, this is why many articles on the internet promote solo traveling as a better way.
We are not saying any way of traveling is better or worse. Be aware that traveling together can destroy friendships an relationships. Be aware that solo traveling can be incredibly lonely. But also be aware that traveling with a great partner can be absolutely amazing.