Thoughts on a Thursday: Travelling Solo

Travelling Solo: Pros and Cons

Much of my travel over the years has been solo. It’s hard to find friends who can take off for a number of weeks at a time, or who are willing to move to another country because their favourite author lives there and has painted a delightful picture. So, obviously, I think that there are some good pros that balance the cons.

Pro: You can do what you like. Want to spend 3 hours at a museum, art gallery, or garden? No one is pulling you on. Want to fly to another country to see your favourite band? Go for it. Feeling hungry? No need to consult anyone else to see if they are hungry, what type of food they want, is it in their price range… All decisions are yours.

Con: All decisions are yours. No idea what to do in a day? Where to eat? If you should figure out the bus system or take a taxi? What town or city to visit next? All these decisions are yours. Unless you latch onto others who are travelling, you will make all the decisions yourself from morning to night. This can be both exhausting and paralysing. You can overthink too many things, too often!

*When I am really stuck, I have been known to ask a friend or stranger to choose A,B, or C with no info at all – it just corresponds to a choice. There is a time to seek advice, and a time to just make a decision.*

Pro: You have more flexibility and control over your budget. You decide how much you are spending daily, weekly, monthly; for your accommodation, transport, meals, activities, etc. In this way, you are only spendingmoney on things you want, or feel have value. You determine a worth and go for it. Think that the Louvre is more than you want to spend on art? Skip it. Think you can’t leave Paris without seeing Armithrace? Then place the Louvre on the top of the list and spend the cash. You alone determine the value and worth, and decide the trip based on your budget and interests.

Con: Sometimes it can be more expensive to travel alone. In many places, a simple hotel for 2 persons can be the same as 2 beds at a hostel. Melas can be too much for 1 person, but comfortably split between 2. And although it’s a really great wine, it’s only available by the bottle. (At times, if I know I am going to be in a place for a couple days, I have been able to order the bottle and enjoy it over a few days by returning to the restaurant the next night. Worth talking to the server about).

Pro: You are more open to meeting new people. When you are with a friend, especially if it is for a short time, you are looking to max your time together. So, naturally, you tend to spend most of your time together. You may book a hotel instead of a hostel. You chat on the bus or train, in restaurants and pubs, anytime you are hanging out. And that’s great – isn’t that one of the reasons you went on vacation together? But, it does mean that you don’t always look around, see other people, engage in great conversations with new people. Some of my best times have been conversations with strangers, or making a new friend in 15 minutes. I have some lifelong friends who I liked 10 minutes after I met them. I have found flatmates in the first 24 hours of meeting them. I have had my world turned upside down by a 30 minute conversation with a stranger. Travelling solo forces you to just jump.

Con: You aren’t always pulled out of your comfort zone or introduced to something new. I like my friends, and find them interesting. I don’t always have the same interests as them, but I can be surprised by what I didn’t’ know existed, or what I might like. Who knew Spain had an amusement park and that it would be a great way to enjoy a sunny day? My friend James, that’s who. The London Zoo wasn’t on my list. But, it was cool to see so many animals, thanks to my friend Jesse. Although I like Monet, I didn’t think I needed to see his work in person. My friend Claire convinced me not to miss the Orangerie in Paris. And I was amazed! His work in person is so much more vivid and brilliant than can be gleaned from any photo… The size, the colours, the texture. Sometimes the opinions of others opens your mind.

This one can be a pro or a con, depending on who you are, where you are in your life, and how much you like yourself. Travelling solo forces you to spend time with you! You can be a social butterfly – meeting people left an right. But, at times, you will have to be alone. For some this is hard. For others, this is a respite.

For some, time along is not what they want. Perhaps life is a challenge and they need a distraction. Perhaps they don’t want to be alone and this hurts. Perhaps they are alone at home and are seeking people, but connections just aren’t available or happening. Travelling solo can be really hard if you are having trouble being alone.

On the other hand, if you need a sabbatical, want to spend some time working on yourself, finding out about yourself, pursuing your agenda, or just need time to get yourself together – this can be a great way to do that. Nothing like being alone in a foreign culture and language to learn who you really are!


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