I have read so many positive things about traveling solo, and I finally had the guts to try it for myself. I made mistakes, my confidence was tested, and I came out on the other side with lots of stories to tell- stories that only I can tell. With only one solo trip under my belt, I am definitely not an expert, but I did learn a lot during my travels.
Pro: You only have to worry about yourself
Security at the airport, fitting on a bus, getting to the right place at the right time, etc. is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself.
Con: If you have to go pee or get snacks at the airport, you have to bring all your stuff with you
Squeezing all your stuff into a small airport bathroom stall is no easy task.
Pro: You can spend time taking as many photos as you want
Sometimes when I’m with other people, I feel ridiculous for taking a bunch of pictures. When I’m by myself, I get to truly decide when enough is enough. I didn’t spend my whole trip taking pictures, but I got the amount that I wanted without fear of judgement.
Con: There is no one to take your picture (unless you’re brave enough to ask a stranger)
At the beginning of my trip, I was terrified to ask a stranger to take my picture for me. Toward the end, I didn’t feel bad about it. When you’re by yourself, you can’t always get the photo-shoot you could get with a close friend, but strangers are usually always nice enough to take a couple for you. (Life hack: Offer to take someone else’s picture for them if you see them struggling to take a selfie. A lot of times, they’ll ask if you want one, too.) A stranger at the top of a mountain took this photo for me:
Pro: You can do what you want when you want.
If I want to look at a gift shop for only two minutes and then leave, I can. If I want to be spontaneous and go somewhere I wasn’t originally planning, I don’t have to ask someone else. If I want to spend three hours looking through a museum, I can skip the parts that bore me and read about the things I’m interested in. This was probably my favorite part of being in Seattle by myself: the FREEDOM.
Con: If something goes wrong, you are the one and only person who can figure it out.
When I went hiking at Mount Rainier National Park, the road to my desired trail was closed. I didn’t have anyone to talk through the options with and had to just go for it. I may have made the wrong decision of going the long way around and doing a six mile hike before I got to the right trail, but honestly, I did like being able to make my own decisions. Despite anxiety and panic that comes along with that, I am able to prove to myself that I can.
Pro: You don’t have to worry if you’re forcing something on someone (especially restaurants)
Holy wow do I feel bad having to always pick where to eat when I’m with people. I feel like everyone has to work around my veganism and that sucks. But when I’m by myself, I can 100% walk an extra mile to a pizza place that has an entire vegan menu because there is no one else to force it on.
Pro: Sometimes it’s easier to be yourself when you’re with no one who knows you
I don’t know about you, but when I’m with a group of people I don’t know, sometimes the one friend I have there makes me feel more pressured to act a certain way than the strangers do. They have a preconceived notion of who I am, and I have to live up to that. When I’m with people who have never met me before, they have no idea what to expect from me. It might bring on a different set of fears and challenges, but I’m able to be whoever I want to be that day. (Pro tip: Do a group tour if you’re traveling by yourself!! No matter how nice it is to be alone, it’s a ton of fun meeting new people and exploring with them.)
Obviously when you’re traveling alone, you will most likely start missing loved ones back home. You see something you know your husband would have loved, or experience an attraction that would have been a blast with your sister. However, for me at least, the most beautiful part of my solo trip was that I became better friends with myself. I grew more confident in my ability to do things, felt more comfortable being and doing things alone.
I highly recommend solo travel to everyone. Do research and figure out where you would feel the most comfortable, and start small. Know what you’re doing before you go, send your game plan to friends and/or family so that someone else will know where you are, bring a portable phone charger, and take lots of pictures. Do what YOU want. Have fun, go adventure, and make memories.