You’ve been daydreaming forever about that week long retreat in Costa Rica, or maybe have been planning a year long trek across the world. But the question is: should you do a solo trip or bring a friend along? There are pros and cons to both sides that are important to consider before you spend the time and money on an unforgettable experience.
Solo travel is frightening to a lot of people, but is also ends up being the most rewarding experience imaginable. Up until this point, you have probably spent your whole life on family vacations and organized group vacations. While those were no doubt probably great experiences, travelling alone is a transformative experience for you as a human being. It pushes you in ways that force you to go outside your comfort zone, and challenges you to try things you have never even considered doing.
Travelling with a friend also has major positives. You have a sidekick at all times and never have to be in a sticky situation alone (like when you miss your flight from staying up too late the night before). There is someone there that has only your best intentions in mind and will always be there when you need them. And of course, you have a personal photographer.
When you are planning your next getaway, make sure the decision to go alone or to bring a travel buddy coincides with the type of experience you are looking for. Are you looking for a journey of self-discovery and a bit of alone time? Or, are you looking to create memories with lifelong friends? Whatever decision you make, your travel experience is sure to be an unforgettable one.
25 (When Solo) You are forced to be independent
Travelling solo does wonders for your independence. It is likely the first time in your life you have literally no one else to rely on, so you are forced to take full responsibility for your actions. There is no one there to make sure you wake up for your 8am flight, no one to give you directions to your hostel, and essentially no one to take care of you (ahem, AKA your mom isn’t there). You will be forced into situations where you will have to problem solve your way out of it. You are basically fully responsible for making sure you stay alive and well.
If there is any way in which to teach you to grow the heck up, it’s solo travelling. You become more self-reliant and confident in your own abilities, and less reliant on others to do things for you. In the end, your independence will skyrocket.
24 (When Solo) You will go out of your way to meet new people
When you are travelling with a friend or group, you will likely not feel the need to go out of your way to meet new people. But that’s the whole point of travelling, isn’t it? When you travel on your own, you won’t have the comfort of your travel buddy to fall back on, and you will be more inclined to strike up a conversation with a fellow traveller or local. Because if you don’t, you will probably have a pretty lonely trip.
I know it sounds scary, but after a while it will be like second nature to you. You will become more confident with putting yourself out there and will meet a ton of amazing people in the process. Sometimes something as simple as asking someone for directions or what country they are from can spark a relationship that lasts for a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to say hello, because the other person probably has the same fears as you do.
23 (When Solo) You don’t have to compromise
Travelling alone means complete and utter freedom to do what you want, when you want. When you travel with another person, there are obvious compromises you have to make to ensure that the trip is enjoyable for both of you. Alternatively, when travelling solo, you don’t have to worry about compromising with something that you don’t necessarily want to do.
This may seem selfish, but travelling is about fully letting go and surrendering to the experience, and how can you do that when you are doing things that you don’t enjoy doing? It’s OKAY to be a little selfish when you travel—there’s nothing worse than returning from a trip and regretting not doing the things that you wanted to do. After all, it’s your life. Do what you want with it.
22 (When Solo) You can go at your own pace
There is nothing worse than travelling with a Type-A friend that wants every movement you do to be calculated, when all you want to do is relax and take the days as they come. Travelling alone gives you the freedom to choose the pace that you want to go at. You can have a day to yourself without having to answer to anyone else.
If you want to be lazy, you can be lazy. If you want to go on a 3-day trek through the rainforest, you can do that too. You can do everything at your own pace, and no one else’s.
This is one of the best part’s about travelling alone. Going by someone else’s schedule is never fun, as it’s pretty rare for two people to be on the exact same wavelengths at all times. Going with whatever you think feels right is the beauty of travel, and someone else there clouding that probably won’t end positively.
21 (When Solo) You are pushed outside your comfort zone
Travelling alone is an extremely terrifying thought. Before I left for my solo trek, I thought many times about messaging everyone I know and scrambling to find someone to come with me. But boy am I glad I didn’t. Being alone can be scary, but it can also push you outside your comfort zone in ways that can change your life. It truly is the most rewarding way to travel.
Say hello to a stranger. Jump out of a plane. Do a group tour on your own.
Living your life in your comfort zone only merely scratches the surface to the possibilities and experiences you could be taking part in. Pushing you outside your comfort zone will drive you to do things you never thought you could do. The times when you feel a little uncomfortable are the times when you grow as a person, and eventually become more comfortable in your own skin.
20 (When Solo) You learn a lot about yourself
The times in your life when you are completely alone and in your own company are the times when you learn the most about who you are and what you want out of life. Being alone boasts an opportunity to reflect on who you are as a human being.
You may find that you are a lot more extroverted than you once thought you were, because you were given an opportunity to meet new people. You could find that you are a very patient person when in reality you thought you were pretty impatient. Solo travel brings a ton of self-awareness, and you will ultimately grow as a human being because of it.
19 (When Solo) It doesn’t mean travelling alone
The biggest misconception of solo travel is that it will be a lonely experience. In reality, it’s quite the opposite. A lot more people are travelling by themselves than you think, therefore everyone is in the same boat in wanting to meet new people. A majority of the people I have met while travelling have been on their own or with people that they met while travelling solo. It’s a super common thing to do.
You are generally always around people, but it’s also a matter of how much you put yourself out there. If you don’t make an effort to strike up a conversation or keep to yourself, you will likely be feeling lonely. But if you take advantage of the amazing individuals around you, I guarantee you will always have someone there to have a chat with.
18 (When Solo) There's not as much risk as people think
You may think that travelling without someone else by your side makes you an instant target, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Solo travel has become the norm, and you will find more people doing it than travelling with other people.
When you are on your own, your survival instincts seem to kick in instantly, and you become hyper aware of everything around you. Because the reality is, no one else is going to do it for you. Have common sense, be aware of what is happening in your surroundings, and use your gut when you think something doesn’t add up. You will know when something doesn’t seem quite right.
17 (When Solo) You can stay on budget
If you are a traveller on a budget travelling with someone who is not, it’s can be very hard to stick to what you are wanting to spend. You will probably spend more than you normally would choose to do alone, but don’t want to be that person counting pennies.
When you are on your own, you can stick to the budget you have laid out for yourself. Things such as accommodation or places to eat that your travel buddy chooses may not seem like such a big deal when they are a few dollars more, but it adds up. If you are solo, you have the financial control to stay on track.
16 …And splurge when you want to (When Solo)
Of course, we all want to treat ourselves while travelling. You may want to splurge on a fancy accommodation for a night and you don’t want to have to deal with putting into perspective two different budgets.
You have the freedom to splurge a little bit without worrying about your travel partner’s budget. You may want to spend a lot of money on a skydive or do a 3-day boat tour through the Whitsundays islands. If your travel partner is on a tight budget, things can get messy when it comes to booking things that are on your bucket list, but that they don’t want to spend the money on.
15 (When Solo) You will focus more on the destination
When you are travelling with someone else, you may not take the time to fully immerse yourself in the culture since you are preoccupied with which so many different personalities, or which family member is annoying you today.
When you are alone, you are able to completely take in your surroundings with no distractions. You will likely take the time to connect with locals in order to get a truly authentic experience. Take the time to walk through a museum for hours. Strike up a conversation with a restaurant owner. You will appreciate the place you are in so much more, since you are in your own company with no distractions.
14 (When Solo) You have the flexibility to change plans
Travelling alone allows you to have zero restrictions. If you want to change your plans up to stay in a town for a few more days, you can do so without any obligation to another person.
You have the freedom to be fully spontaneous. If you meet someone you really connect with, you can choose to travel with them for a few weeks. You may even fall in love on the road and want to spend all your time travelling with this one person.
If you have a travel buddy, it allows for less spontaneity as you kind of have an obligation to another person. You don’t want to ever feel like you are ‘ditching’ someone, and when you are alone this will never be a worry as you are free to do what you please!
13 (When Solo) You’ll learn to love being alone
After travelling on your own, you will likely learn to love being in your own company. You will become obsessed with being alone, which is an amazing thing. In everyday life, so many people are uncomfortable with the thought of being alone, being reliant on others for so many things. In reality, you should be extremely content with being on your own, first and foremost.
When you are on the road, a day exploring a city solo doesn’t seem like such a daunting task after a while.
Learning to love being alone is the first step to learning to put yourself first. And learning to put yourself first is crucial to attract good people and solid, healthy relationships. When you are comfortable with being alone you become extremely self-reliant and better equipped to take on anything that life throws at you.
12 (When Solo) It allows you to appreciate the people back home
Being alone on the other side of the world truly puts into perspective the people you may have back at home, and how important (or un-important) they are in the grand scheme of things. It also puts into perspective how strong your relationships really are, and if they can survive you being away for so long.
I have never appreciated my family and friends back home more than I have after travelling solo for a year. Although you meet so many amazing people, the people back home are your backbone and you realise how important they are when you aren’t with them every day.
11 (When Solo) When your trip's done You will never be the same
Solo travel changes you. it’s not just a trip across the world, it’s a journey of self-discovery and growth that you never saw coming. You won’t return home the same way you left, and you will probably have many outlooks on life that are different than they were before.
And once you’ve done it once, you’ll be hooked forever. Don’t be surprised if it’s difficult for you to travel with a big group of people again. And coming home will likely be a little weird at first, with everyone you know and love being in the same place again, but it will slowly go back to normal. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your next trip.
10 (With A Friend) The planning process is more fun
One of the best parts about travelling is no doubt the planning process, and that process is even more enjoyable when you have someone to share it with. Your group chats will likely be exploding with exciting messages about fun activities, the upcoming weather forecast, and links to the amazing Airbnb’s you can rent.
The time before a vacation where you are counting down the days is an exhilarating time, and when you have someone who is just as excited as you are it makes it all the more thrilling. When you are travelling solo, you are in this little excited bubble where you are trying not to talk too much to others about your upcoming trip.
9 (With A Friend) Someone always has your back
There is an obvious sense of comfort that travelling with someone you are familiar with brings. You will likely feel safer and more comfortable in your surroundings when you have someone there with you.
While travelling with people you meet along the way is great, it’s also nice to have someone that you know no matter what will always have your back. You know you can trust this person and that their intentions are pure, and if you are ever in a messy situation you can count on them to get you out of it. You may not have someone you meet on the road that would go to lengths to be there for you.
8 (With A Friend) You will never feel alone
Travelling solo can get lonely at times; you don’t always find people you mesh with and don’t always feel like you belong. Sometimes when you’re on the road, you can definitely feel pretty homesick and down at times. Luckily, if you have a travel buddy you will always have a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to, and someone to keep you company at all times.
Being a long way away from home is scary and having someone there definitely can calm those nerves so that you can enjoy yourself a little bit more. When you are solo travelling, being alone is always fixable, but sometimes you don’t always want to put yourself out there.
7 (With A Friend) It’ll save you some bucks
Travelling with someone else can generally be cheaper in more ways than one. When you factor in things like hotel rooms and car rentals, it’s good to have someone else to split the cost of things with. If you are thinking of cooking a lot of your meals while abroad, splitting the cost of groceries can also be a huge money saver.
There are also a ton of 2 for 1 deals on meals, tours, and pretty much anything else you can think of—you just have to go searching for it. Travelling with a friend can definitely end up being easier on the wallet.
6 (With A Friend) Your friend can be the voice of reason
Someone you just met a couple of days ago probably isn’t going to call you out if you’re doing something shady or out of character. When you have a friend there, they will likely call you out and tell you not to do something if they think it’s a bad call. They will be there to protect you from making a bad decision, like getting a tattoo that says ‘Namaste’ after taking one yoga class. Your friend from back home will bring you back to earth, but someone who doesn’t know you that well will probably turn a blind eye.
Sometimes people can get a little lost and lose who they are on the road, and having a friend there to keep you on track is a plus.
5 (With A Friend) Allows you to learn more about each other
If you want to learn who someone truly is, go on a trip with them. After spending 24 hours a day together for weeks on end, you will probably learn things about the other person that you never would have guessed would be the case.
You will know them when they are happy, sad, angry, stressed, and pretty much every other emotion. You will learn a ton about how they handle situations and how they problem solve. Your friendship with likely grow in ways you never thought was possible (or the other way around). Travelling has a way of showing every possible side of a human being.
4 (With A Friend) You have a personal photographer
An obvious perk of having a travel buddy is that you have your own personal photographer to follow you around and take candid shots of you. They won’t judge you when you want 50 angles of essentially the same picture, because they know you will do the same for them. Let’s face it, we all want a ton of vacation pictures to post on the gram.
There is nothing worse than being a solo traveller and having to ask random strangers to take your picture for you, inelegantly posing and wanting the experience to be over immediately. When you have a friend there, you don’t need to worry about those oh so awkward encounters.
3 (With A Friend) Travel delays are more bearable
Those long waits in the airport and 8-hour bus rides are a lot more bearable when you have someone there with you. You don’t really realise until you travel alone how gruesomely boring it is to travel from point A to point B without someone to complain about flight delays with.
The actual travelling part of a trip is not exactly fun, and it becomes a lot more tolerable when you have a friend to pass the time with. Those times when you are so sleep-deprived you can’t even speak can actually be some of the most fun, hilarious times together. And when you end up missing a train ride due to your foolish antics, you can sort it out together.
2 (With A Friend) If you forget something, they probably have it
Everyone forgets at least one item when they go on a trip. Luckily, having a travel buddy means that there is a good chance that they have what you are missing, and vice versa for them. If you travel with a particularly organized and prepared individual, this is especially true. I am definitely not that person, so I try to choose my travel partners wisely.
When you travel solo, anything you don’t have will result in you rushing to the nearest department store to grab. It’s always handy to have someone to help you out in situations like that when you are abroad.
1 (With A Friend) You have someone that understands how great your experience was
It’s always tough when you return home after a solo trek around the globe and you find it hard to articulate the experiences you had. It’s hard to comprehend how have changed and grown as a person. The people you met, the food you ate, and the little moments that made it unforgettable are all hard to put into words when asked to do so.
When you have someone else that has shared those same experiences, you have someone who you can go to, to reflect on the amazing time that you had and what made it so special. It’s nice to have someone who really gets it, when no one else really does. Reminiscing on the good old days exploring the streets of Rome is a lot cooler when you have someone who was right by your side the whole time.