Is It Better to Travel Alone? - The Pros and Cons
Traveling and experiencing new places and different cultures can be one of the most exciting things that a person can do in their life. Sometimes it's fun to travel with friends because they can make lots of situations more enjoyable and comfortable for you, but friends aren't always available to travel or may not be financially able to do so. In this type of situation, the only choice a person has left is to either travel alone or postpone their trip.
Personally, I've had a passion for traveling my entire life, which was probably influenced from movies that I watched as a kid such as The Goonies, the Indiana Jones Trilogy, and Flight of the Navigator. Most of these movies were about people going on adventures and many of them involved a group of people traveling together. So whenever I wanted to travel somewhere far, and my friends either didn't want to go or couldn't afford it, I had to force myself to go alone.
I was worried about being lonely or not having as much fun as I would with them, but I found that many times it actually improved the trip. There's many benefits of traveling alone, but there's also a few downsides as you'd expect. So anyone who is thinking about doing this and wondering what it might be like, here's some of the pros and cons of traveling solo.
-It's Your Show
The best part of traveling alone is that you're completely in charge of your entire trip. When you travel with others, you have to compromise sometimes to be considerate of them and do some things that they want to do. The person you're traveling with may want to go to one place and you may want to go to a different place, and there may not be enough time to go do both things.
So when you're alone you're completely in charge and your trip or vacation can be exactly the way you want it to be. You decide where to go, how long to stay, what types of hotels or accommodation to stay in, where to eat, and how to get around.
You're also responsible for yourself and nobody else, so other people's problems and mistakes won't mess up your trip. If you're in a foreign country with a friend and that friend is irresponsible, their irresponsibility may disrupt your trip and affect your plans. If your friend loses their passport, for example, this may cause you to have to avoid going to certain places or doing certain things until they can get a replacement.
If you lose your own passport, at least you will have no one to blame but yourself. The more people you travel with, the greater the odds are that someone will make a mistake or do something that can ruin your trip.
When people are around each other too much, they can begin to get on each other's nerves. The little things that people do in their everyday lives that most people don't notice can become very noticeable to you when you're around them all day and all night. You may be in a country where manners are considered very important, and your travel buddy may be acting rude or offensive to where you may start to get irritated.
You may drop a subtle hint to them to let them know that they are being a little rude, and this may cause an argument between the two of you. This is just one example of the types of scenarios that often occur when people travel together.
There may also be arguing over which activities to do or which sights to see, since people have different ideas of what to do while on a vacation or a trip. Two people going to Las Vegas may completely disagree on how to spend the days and nights, where one person may want to hit up the Casinos while the other person may want to get into some of Sin City's wilder forms of entertainment. This may cause arguments and tension between you and the person you're with. This type of tension can easily put a dark cloud over what should be a fun trip.
If you have wild friends and you tend to be more reserved, this can also cause drama because they may anger someone else or do something crazy that can lead into an altercation, such as a fight in a bar or being kicked out of a club, and you could be caught up in this when you try to defend them or simply for being with them.
-Easier to Meet New People
When you're traveling alone, it can be much easier to meet new people, whether it's new friends or romantic interests. When you're traveling with someone else, you may be less approachable to other people. For example, let's say you're a single man and you're walking along the beach and a single woman is walking your way. It's much easier for her to approach you and talk to you then it would be if there were two of you. The woman may be more apprehensive if there's two men because this can seem more dangerous to her or it may just seem awkward if she's only interested in one of you.
The same goes for meeting new people in social situations. If you're a woman who's traveling alone and you run into another person who is traveling alone, it's not so awkward for you to get to talking and maybe do something together as friends, since you're both alone and travelers. If you're already traveling with someone, then new people may not come up to you because they might assume you won't be as receptive to new people if you're already with someone, and they also may not want to feel like a third wheel.
A third wheel is someone who joins a group of two people and feels like they are not part of the conversations or feel like they are left-out of the group because the two other people may socialize more with each other and forget about the third person.
People who travel alone are usually very strong in character and it means that they don't get lonely very easily. Imagine if Jason Bourne or James Bond constantly had to have a friend at their side in order to travel to exotic or new places. They wouldn't be quite as intriguing or mentally as strong as they seem. You may get lonely, especially when you try traveling alone for the first time, but this will eventually grow into a strength and help mold your character as a person once you get used to it.
When we learn new things, even when they aren't enjoyable at first, we become better equipped to handle situations. Think of it as training at first, the way that soldiers may go through boot camp and get outside of their comfort zone in order to handle tougher situations. It may seem very difficult to them at first but they soon adapt to this and it makes them tougher over all. It helps to build your sense of independence so that you can go anywhere alone or do anything without needing a friend there to enjoy yourself or feel comfortable.
Another great benefit of this is that this type of character can sometimes shine through you and other people may notice that about you and find it interesting or appealing. People you're interested in romantically may also find you attractive because they sense that you're a strong individual and you're able to be independent, which makes you somewhat unique.
-Nobody to Share Memories With
When you travel alone, you'll have many experiences that you'll remember for the rest of your life. For most people, these types of experiences are more enjoyable when you have someone else with you to share them with. After your trip is over and you go home, it's usually better if there's someone else out there who you can relate to when it comes to this and talk to about the adventures and experiences you had.
Of course, you'll probably meet other travelers wherever you go when you do travel alone, but this usually isn't the same as bringing an old friend or someone from home to go along with you for the journey.
For one thing, someone who leaves and returns with you is someone who was there for most of the entire trip, so you can both completely relate to each other when it's all said and done. Traveling is an experience and experiences shape the person that you are and your overall personality. So some people may not understand you completely because they haven't been where you've been and they haven't had the same experiences as you.
On top of that, someone you already know may be more likely to last as a friend throughout your life, so there's a better chance you'll be able to talk about the trip many years later. A person you meet while traveling may not last as a friend or acquaintance and once you lose contact with them, then there won't be anyone in your life that you can share those memories with.
Traveling alone is almost always more dangerous than traveling with a friend. No matter where you go, there's always the possibility of something bad happening to you. This could happen in a number of different ways. You could be robbed or attacked while alone because you may look like an easier target than a group of two or three people.
Friends can sometimes keep you out of trouble and help you avoid misunderstandings as well. Let's say you're the party-type and you like to get drunk when you're on vacation or traveling. Having a friend with you can help you avoid acting too recklessly while you're intoxicated and they can even help you avoid a night in jail by helping you get back to your hotel at the end of the night.
They can also help you to avoid getting ripped off by strangers if you're buying things in a foreign country, by acting as a witness. If you're all alone, certain scammers might be more likely to scam you than if you're with another person.
The #1 reason most people prefer to travel with others is because they are afraid of being lonely. Even while you're exploring big cities packed with millions of people, you can still get lonely if you have trouble meeting new people or finding ways to relate to or communicate with the locals. Having a buddy with you while you're traveling means no moments of loneliness.
However, most people become less lonely as they adapt to traveling alone and get used to it. It's just getting over that initial period of loneliness that's the problem for most people.
When you're with someone, everything is cheaper, assuming you've both agreed to split the costs. If you're both staying in the same hotel room, then instead of $40 a night it can be $20. If you're renting a car or taking taxis around town, you can split those costs as well. Even things like buying food can be significantly cheaper.
Also, having a second person with you can help you avoid spending too much for things, because if you're looking for something cheap in the general area, you can both split up and look for this thing and then when you meet up again discuss the prices you found. This way you're covering more ground and have four eyes instead of two.
There's been many times where I've been traveling and needed to find a cheap hotel room once I arrived in a town, but the cheapest ones won't always advertise online or in travel guides. So having to walk around and ask each place how much the rates are can take up a lot of time. Having a second person with me made things easier because I was able to check one side of the street while he checked the other.
Without that a second person with me, I might have gotten tired from all the walking around and settled on a hotel that was more expensive than others in the area that I didn't know about.
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