Take a look at a cross section of travellers on Twitter and you will see any number of solo travellers waxing lyrical about the delights of travelling alone - everyone wants to be a ‘digital nomad’. Despite the fact that it’s popular, it’s not for everyone. The important thing is to choose a form of travelling that’s comfortable for you. Read on to find out whether you would fare better as a lone wolf or one of a pack…
Travelling alone is not just about physical travel; you are having a journey with yourself. There’s nothing else quite like it for taking time out and finding yourself. You will have the time and space to listen to what you want to, as well as explore what you’re thinking and experiencing. To coin a much used phrase, you will find yourself. This is one of the reasons why people often embark on solo travel after a divorce, bereavement or job loss: it’s time to take stock and ponder.
From a purely practical view, it can be great fun. Travelling solo allows you to be selfish: you don’t have to spend that boring day sat vegetating on the beach because your partner wants you at their side, and you don’t have to go to the seafood restaurant that the gang has taken a fancy to (yet again!). You can stay in your hammock and contemplate the clouds all day if you feel like it.
Travelling alone doesn’t have to mean retreating into yourself. When a group travels together, it often stays together, making it hard to meet new people or open up to new experiences. Travelling solo leaves you much more open to chatting to the people you come across, free to change plans and generally be more inquisitive about the world around you.
As with most things, of course there are negatives. From a purely practical point of view, there is no one to split the cost of a room or taxi, so it can be a lot more expensive. There is also no one to share burdens like looking after luggage, navigating or queuing for tickets. It’s up to you, all the time, even when you get ill. There are also a lot of safety concerns with travelling alone. However if you follow some simple rules, you should be fine.
It can also be lonely - there’s no getting away from that. If you are the sort of person that doesn’t like being on your own, it may not suit you. At the end of the day, there will be no one to share the view of that fabulous sunset with, or giggle with over the couple on the next table that insist on using pet names for each other.
It’s important to remember that travelling alone doesn’t mean travelling without company. It is very easy to meet other people on the road and join up with them for lunch, a day or longer. That is the beauty of solo travel - you never quite know who you’ll meet next.
Travelling With Friends
There is not only safety in numbers but there is also great enjoyment in travelling with others. It can make life a lot easier as everyone can play to their strengths - you may be great at navigating while someone else is the linguist that can get you out of trouble. It’s often cheaper to travel in a group as you can split costs, share each other’s food and do things that you would unlikely to do on your own such as hiring a boat for the day.
But, of course, it all comes down to picking the right people! If things go wrong, it can leave you feeling worse off than you would be if you were alone. Arguments, even niggly ones, can be upsetting, and spending a lot of time in each other’s company means that you may have to put up with some conflict. You’ll also continually be going with the crowd, which is inevitably going to involve some kind of compromise. This is fine if you are easygoing, but there is a chance it could backfire on you, leaving you resentful and feeling as though you are missing out.
However, travelling with friends doesn’t have to mean that you spend every minute of the day with them. Understanding travel companions should be accepting of you needing your own time and space so that you can experience some of the benefits of solo travel while getting the best of both worlds.
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