As someone with a heart filled with wanderlust, not having a travel buddy never much bothered me. Or keep me from getting my passport stamped. In fact, travelling solo is one of my favourite ways to travel. The freedom and being alone with my thoughts is what gets me going and fuels me. But let's not glorify it endlessly, because solo travelling – just as much as travelling with someone – can have its downsides. I've asked eight fellow travel bloggers with tons of solo travelling experience to share their personal downsides of solo travel too:
Having to Pay for a Double Room
submitted by Juliana – The Discoveries of
I love travelling solo. There’s something so refreshing about being able to do whatever you want, however you want on a trip. That said, there are always downsides – one of them being that you pretty much always have to pay for a double room unless you fancy booking into a dorm. That, my friends, is a guaranteed way to eat into your budget.
It’s fine when you’re travelling with someone – you can just split the cost of the room. But paying for rooms when you’re flying solo can add up to a hefty amount, even when you’re not staying in fancy places.
I remember the first time that I travelled alone, I was absolutely horrified by how much I ended up spending on accommodation. These days, I try to negotiate the cost of the room down – sometimes, like for my fortnight in Bali, it totally works. Others, not so much. But it’s always worth a try.
Reassuring People at Home You're still OK
Submitted by Maire – Temples and Treehouses
Before my first solo trip, I worried that I wouldn’t have as much fun on my own, or that I would struggle to find my way around a foreign country by myself. Instead, I discovered that it's a great feeling dealing with challenges on your own, and you honestly can have so much fun by yourself.
But a surprising outcome of solo travel was needing to regularly reassure friends and family that I was ok! During my 6-month solo trip, I received a lot of messages from home, all asking if I was still travelling on my own. I didn’t want people to worry, and I was really grateful for their concern. It made me realise how much more important staying in touch is when you're so far away.
Submitted by Chris Backe – Becoming a Digital Nomad
I enjoyed the solo travelling life as an expat living in South Korea. After a workweek full of kids and policies and the occasional parent, it was nice to just get away and be a traveller.
The biggest downside of solo travel? There was no one to share the adventure with.
And then I met a girl and we went from ‘date #1' to ‘weekend-long dates' in a couple of months. Will she enjoy the same places as I do? Does she have the same energy level to tackle a place? Do we want to check out the same places when we go to a new city?
A mismatch here is a potential downside — or simply the realization that not every person need to be in lockstep with their partner. While dating, we both knew that we wanted travelling to make up a big part of our lives. Even in a serious relationship, it's sometimes better to go solo to enjoy a place your way.
Too much Unwanted Attention
Submitted by Lisa – TheHotFlashPacker
I am not young, skinny, or cute, but I still get unwanted attention and even propositions, by men when I travel solo. While I kind of expect men to talk to me in a bar, the most persistent men are often on the street or in public transportation. Despite different approaches from acting indifferent to explicitly telling them to go away, sometimes they persist. Sometimes a guy will start walking along while I’m walking down the street and will try to chat me up. Often it will include an invitation to do something with him.
One of the funniest times a guy just wouldn’t go away was in a shuttle bus from Armenia to Georgia. The guy in the seat in front of me started chatting me up. He kept on talking, loud enough for the whole shuttle to hear. Eventually, he asked, “are you married?” and I heard several people in the back of the shuttle bus yell “YES!”
Not Being Trusted as a Solo Male Traveller
Submitted by Dana – Discover Discomfort
Travelling in the Middle East is challenging as a solo female, from what Jo tells me. In comparison, I wouldn't say it's “challenging” to travel as a solo male, but there are prejudices against me to constantly battle. As a man, I am assumed to be more of a threat or a potential creep. People are less likely to spontaneously help me than a woman, and definitely unlikely to agree to meet up soon after meeting.
Now that I'm travelling with my partner Jo in Egypt to learn Egyptian Arabic, I notice many unanticipated benefits. People are warmer and more likely to strike up a conversation with us (well, with her… but I'm there). Friendly strangers often exchange numbers and propose catching up for coffee or lunch soon after meeting us! And we have more options of places to stay in the Middle East, where conservative traditions (and safety guidelines) prohibit single men from staying in many household situations (for example with a single female roommate).
Missing Good Chats with Friends
Submitted by Paul – Journey Compass
On the upside, as a solo traveller, you do tend to meet a lot more new people as compared to when travelling as a couple or in a group.
The main downside of solo travel to me is not having good friends around that you can have a chat with. Of course, you do meet people on the road, but often you're on your own too.
It differs per location to me though, for example when I am in Boracay, it's easy to meet new people and have social interactions here and there, since the location is very central, and it has a vibrant social vibe. On the other side of the coin, when I stay in Kyoto, I feel less connected to the rest of the city. So to me, some travel destinations are also just better suited for solo travel than others.
Submitted by Claire – This Travel Lover
I love travelling alone. However, one of the downsides of solo travel is how hard it is to go out for dinner alone. I used to hate solo dining, but over the years I’ve become quite accustomed to it. Even if most waiters haven’t! That look of surprise and pity when you say ‘table for one’, then they lead to you the tiny table in the back before ceremoniously clearing the cutlery away from the empty seat in front of you. It doesn’t upset me anymore, but I am consistently irritated by how waiters behave – we all have to eat, so I really don’t see why someone eating alone is such a big deal!
Actually, that’s not the worst thing about dining alone, not being able to order my favourite dishes is simply torture – why don’t they make paella dishes for one? Or tapas? Having to forgo some of the tastiest dishes just because I’m alone really isn’t fair.
The Struggle to Get Great Photos
Submitted by Anna – My Travel Scrapbook
Solo travel is amazing but there are times when you wish you had a partner with you. One of those times is when you want an incredible photo with you in it. There are many tips like bringing your own tripod and setting up the auto timer. These photos require a lot more time though, especially knowing your partner would do this within 10 seconds.
The downside of solo travel? Often your only choice is the other travellers and asking them to take a photo of you. You internally debate whether they will know how to use a DSLR or whether to just hand them your phone and put up with a lower quality photo. Once you have managed to convince someone to take a pic and they then ask the obligatory – yet rhetorical – question of whether the photo is good. You feel awkward asking for another photo and wish you had a better camera buddy!
While I can relate to many things the others have just mentioned, for me, the most frightening and worst of all downside of solo travel is having to go to the ER in a foreign country.
I've had emergency surgery in Mexico a couple of years ago. And had to go to the ER in South Africa just a couple of months ago. Plus I've had my fair share of emergency dentist visits abroad too.
All of this happened while I was travelling alone thus had to take care of everything myself. From calling my travel insurance to getting myself to the hospital or doctor etc. It made me realize how far I can push myself until I reach a safe place. Luckily I've always been conscious to deal with it all. I am frightened of getting in an accident and having to trust others to make the right decisions for me.
What do you think are the downsides of solo travel? Are there any at all? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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