Social media has no shortage of travel bloggers, #freespirits, and #DigitalNomads that have awakened the #wanderlust and #islandgirls in all of us.
These backpackers or solo travelers have so many places to show and exciting stories to share. Wouldn’t it be nice to be one of them?
Anyone who’s ever done solo traveling knows how freeing and liberating it can be. Anyone who’s ever dreamed of going on a solo trip sees it as a thrilling adventure. One that needs a lot of courage to muster up.
For those of you who are considering solo travel, or need to convince someone to take that leap, let’s weigh in on its positive and negative sides. Don’t just take my word for it, though. I also gathered some testimonials from friends who are avid solo travelers themselves, and have spent their adult lives pursuing “that flighty temptress, adventure.”
Pros: Worth it!
Solo traveling or backpacking is exciting and eye-opening because you learn to be the captain of your own ship.
- You won’t have to adjust to other people.
- You won’t need a consensus on where to eat or go next.
- You won’t have to wait for anyone. Especially if you’re always late, or someone in your group is.
- You can take your own sweet time.
- You’re free to meet or hang with whoever you want. And trust me, there’s plenty of people to meet from all walks of life. Solo traveling makes you more open for spontaneity, crazy adventures and hanging out with different people.
- On the other hand, if you’re more of an introvert, maybe you can even meet someone you can hang out in peace with. Or not. You’ll learn to enjoy your own company.
- Contrary to what most people think, you can actually save a lot of money traveling solo. You can make full use of Couchsurfing and make friends with locals or stay at an affordable hostel where you can make friends with like-minded people.
- You won’t always be a Solo Dolo. ‘Cause you’ll be meeting a lot of friendly, helpful people along the way.
- You’ll realize how independent you can actually be. This is one of the things people discover behind the cliché line, “Finding yourself” when traveling. You’ll learn that you are actually capable of doing more things you’ve never even considered. And if you’ve always wanted to be independent? Traveling solo forces you to be just that.
- You get to be more immersed in cultures. Because you’re not limited to the safety/comfort/confines of a group, or the differing whims/decisions of your travel partner.
- It’s empowering. If you pull off even just a quick solo trip to a new place, chances are you’d come out of it feeling proud of yourself. You were able to navigate alone, eat alone, and have fun alone. You’re also likely to have made some new friends.
“[It’s] the freedom! The feeling of pure independence. The feeling of knowing the world suddenly becomes YOUR huge playground. The feeling of knowing that YOU are the author of your trip.”
Cons: Or rather, some things to consider.
Of course, as fun and freeing as it is, traveling solo also comes with a lot of caveats. Even traveling with a group doesn’t mean you’re spared from any kind of trouble. For solo travels, here are some possible downsides.
- Safety is more of a concern, especially with women traveling in particular places. On the plus side, you get to practice listening to your own intuition if something doesn’t feel right. Like avoiding someone who’s making you feel uncomfortable.
“You can do whatever you want. You don’t need to consider other people’s schedules/wants/needs. You have all the freedom to interact with locals or other tourists. You don’t have to worry about someone or feel obliged to shell out money if they don’t have the budget to do an activity.
If there are any negative sides to it, it’s that you’re more vulnerable to possible dangers as mugging, creepy guys, scammers, etc. and there’s no one there to immediately help you out in times of emergency.”
- It can get lonely. In my first night in Batanes, I wasn’t prepared at how quiet and lonely it can be at so early — 7PM! It was so quiet in my homestay, and I realized that I was home alone. But luckily there was a fiesta going on, so I pulled myself together, went out, met fellow solo travelers, and we drank with the friendly Ivatans.
“[I love solo traveling because] there’s no dependencies. [It’s] easier to meet a lot of new people, plenty of alone time to think about life, and get to know more about oneself. [As for cons], it gets lonely sometimes… and at times can be more expensive. “
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Got my US Visa! Yey! I think I prepared too long for this one. Months of organizing documents, and years of travelling to different countries to prove that I’m not interested in being an illegal alien 👽 For some nationalities, this would’ve been very easy, but for Filipinos, we always get flagged and we need to prepare a lot of supporting documents like bank statements, employment certificate, assets, birth certificate, etc to prove we’re legit and we won’t overstay. I was at the interview and it was intense because you’ll just stand there in line waiting for your turn while you can see others being interviewed, and you can hear the questions and their answers. Seeing someone got rejected, her face was in disbelief and almost begging the officer for answers and how she was denied. It’s very subjective. I’m just fortunate I guess that the girl who interviewed me seemed to be in a very good mood, always smiling. She asked me a few questions like where I’m planning to go, what’s my purpose, and I gave very concise answers. I told her I’m going to San Francisco, just for vacation. She scanned my passport and said “Oh you seem to travel a lot”, not really knowing how to react to that, I just said “Yes.. yes I do” and feeling a little awkward after that. After a few seconds of further inspection she said “Ok, you’re approved. Expect your passport in a week. Thank you!”, and I was like, “Don’t you want to see any proof, I prepared months for this!” in a joking manner while raising my envelope of documents. She just smiled back and said “No need” I was relieved. I enjoy conquering small challenges in life and I kind of appreciate as well that this is not a very easy process as it makes the end goal more fulfilling because you worked hard for it; just like any satisfying thing in life.
- There’s none of that familiar security and comfort you get when traveling with someone. No one will be there for you right away in the event of an emergency. Worst case would be a ‘127 Hours’ scenario. One workaround is to always inform a family member or close friend of your whereabouts, and the names of the people you’re with. Also, invest in a travel insurance.
- There’s no one there to take your photos. Unless, you’re resourceful enough to practice The Art of Posing with a Self-Timer, or charming people to get you those touristy photos. And trust me, resourcefulness is one of the things you’ll need when solo traveling.
- There’s no one to split expenses with. No one to split with when paying for a cab ride, checking in a pricey yet comfortable hotel room, or pigging out on some good food. You’ll have to pay it all yourself.
- Your close friends or loved ones are not there to share the happy memories with you as they happen. There’s always social media to share your travel stories with, but this is one of the reasons why people go on a solo trip. To take some time off and just be with yourself or make fun memories with new people.
So who is solo traveling for?
Everyone. At least once.
Even if you’re the Type A kind of person who wants everything planned and organized, you can definitely go on a solo trip. You can join travel groups on your own, or just plot your own strict travel itinerary. You won’t have to wait for anyone. This trip will just be all up to you.
One thing’s for sure: If you’re young and untethered, it would be remiss not to try solo traveling. You wouldn’t know how much fun you’ll have with the people you meet, and places you’ll see. You just need to get out of your comfort zone and the familiarity of always having friends around.