Some say solo travel is lonely and sad. Some say it is unsafe or expensive. And others say it is the best thing they’ve ever done. So, exactly what are the advantages and disadvantages of travelling alone?
The benefits of travelling alone include setting your own budget, making more friends, meeting more locals, finding romance, and freedom over your itinerary. The disadvantages of travelling alone include expensive private accommodation, safety risks, loneliness, and difficulty taking photos of yourself.
In this article, I will list 30 pros and cons of travelling alone, so that you can decide whether solo travel is right for you.
Nomadic Yak has 100s of solo travel tips if it’s your first time travelling solo!
- Advantages & Benefits of Travelling Alone
- Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
- More solo travel tips
Advantages & Benefits of Travelling Alone
What are the advantages of travelling alone?
In short, the benefits of solo travel include saving money, making more friends, finding romance, enjoying freedom and flexibility, gaining self-confidence and social skills, becoming more mindful, gathering interesting stories, interacting with locals and creating awesome social media content.
Let’s delve further into the pros of solo travel:
Practical Advantages of Travelling Alone
+ Freedom and flexibility over your itinerary
Solo travel provides you with the flexibility to do what you want, where you want and when you want. There’s no need to do what other people want to do.
When you travel alone, you get to enjoy total control over:
- Which activities you do and when;
- Which accommodation you stay at;
- Which transport you take;
- Which restaurants you eat at;
- When you wake up and go to bed;
- When you take breaks during the day;
- Whether you go out or stay in;
- Which route you take;
- Where you travel to (see my list of the 193 best places to travel solo).
The whole trip is based around you and you alone!
+ Set your own budget and save money
Solo travel can be up to 75% cheaper than travelling with a partner, family or friends. This is because you do not have to cover the costs of other people’s travel expenses. Instead, you can just look for the best deals for yourself.
You also get to set your own budget when you travel alone. You do not have to think about others when choosing how much you spend on accommodation, transport, dining, activities and other expenses.
With the money you save, you can travel for longer and enjoy yourself more.
+ Eat whatever you want
One of the main concerns that people face when travelling alone for the first time is eating alone – they think that they’ll look weird or feel lonesome.
But you’ll soon realise that eating alone is one of the benefits of travelling alone. You have total freedom over what you eat, when you eat and which restaurant you eat at.
This is particularly great for people who are focused on their diet or have food allergies. It’s also helpful if you’re trying to stick to a travel budget.
+ Choose accommodation based on your needs
One benefit of solo travel is that you get to choose your accommodation. There’s no need to think about your travel companions, their budget and their wants.
Most of the time, your budget and style of solo travel will determine where you stay:
- Backpackers: Mostly stay in hostels and motels because they are affordable and a great way to meet people.
- Standard solo travellers: Stay in a combination of hostels and hotels so that they can enjoy a mix of socialising, affordability and comfort.
- Luxurious solo travellers: Mostly stay in hotels and private rentals so that they enjoy the utmost comfort and privacy.
+ More time to read, watch and listen
Most people never find the time to finish that book they’ve been reading or watch that film they’ve been wanting to see.
An advantage of travelling alone is that you don’t have to fuss over others – you can use your downtime to enjoy some reading, a show or a podcast.
+ Learn a new language
When you travel alone, you can’t rely on your fellow travellers to help you translate the local language. Whilst this may sound like a disadvantage to some, the benefit is that it forces you to learn more of the local language.
With the help of language learning apps such as Duolingo, it is easy to pick up the basics that you need when travelling to a foreign country. The first few levels of learning include greetings, pronouns, food items and common travel phrases.
+ Be as selfish as you like
People ask, is travelling alone fun? But what could be more fun than doing whatever you want?!
One of the problems with travelling with friends and family is that you have to worry about what they want to do and when they want to do it.
When you travel solo, you’re free to indulge in whatever you want – whether that’s an extra drink at the bar, heading back to your accommodation early or trying some exotic street food. The benefit of travelling alone is that it’s a rare opportunity to be as selfish as you like!
Social Benefits of Travelling Alone
+ You make more friends when travelling alone
This is perhaps the biggest benefit of travelling alone – it is much easier to meet people and make friends. Even though I’m an introvert, I make 1 or 2 new friends almost every day on my solo trips!
When you travel alone, you naturally socialise with other travellers and discuss the things you have in common: your destination, your travel plans and your interests.
Other travellers are more likely to befriend you when you travel alone. It is less antagonising for them to approach an individual than a group of people.
Blossom into a social butterfly with my Ultimate 9-Step Guide to Making Friends When Travelling Alone!
+ Gain more social media followers and engagement
All your friends and family at home will be keen to see your solo travel adventures. And you’ll add lots of other travellers and friends on social media along the way, growing your following.
When travelling alone, use your downtime to edit your photos and videos so that you can create unique and exciting social media content.
Struggling for captions? See my list of the 100 best solo travel Instagram captions!
+ Gather interesting stories
Ever sit around at a party and wish you had more interesting stories to share? A benefit of travelling alone is the amazing stories you gather.
You’ll keep your friends and family entertained for hours when you return from your solo travel with a bag full of funny, fascinating and frightful memories!
+ More romance and sex
Most solo travellers are single, so travelling alone can be a great way to meet romantic partners. You never know – one of your fellow travellers may just be your soul mate!
Backpackers have sex more frequently and have more sexual partners than the average person.
+ More interaction with locals
When you travel with other people, you rely on them to help you navigate the city, learn the language, order food, learn local history and much more.
But one of the advantages of travelling alone is that you have to rely on the local people more and get to enjoy more authentic interactions.
Many times throughout my solo travels, I have had to ask a local for help. And often, it results in them kindly inviting me for tea or a meal and the opportunity to learn about their way of life.
+ Build your social skills
Because you are forced to socialise and make friends when you travel alone, you quickly build social skills and become more outgoing.
Even if you’re a shy or introverted solo traveller, you’ll soon find that you can make friends with almost anyone. Just break the ice by discussing your common interest – travel. After that, the conversation will flow naturally.
Psychological Benefits of Travelling Alone
+ Become more self-confident
You’ll face all sorts of fears and anxieties when you travel alone – you’ll get lost in unknown streets, fumble around a foreign language, struggle with scam artists, make friends with strangers, and more.
Whilst such challenges can be scary, you feel a massive sense of pride (and relief) when you overcome them by yourself. When you step outside the comforts of day-to-day life, you realise that you are capable of more than you thought possible (without the help of others).
+ Solo travel broadens the mind and soul
When you travel alone, you learn a lot about how other people live; what they do for work, what their history is, how their relationships and families function, what their struggles are and what they’re grateful for.
Learning about the lives of others helps you put your own life into perspective. You think about what is important to you and what is unimportant – your purpose, priorities, problems and blessings.
This is one of the main reasons why you should travel alone in your 20s!
+ Find clarity with moments of mindfulness
Try to enjoy one moment of mindfulness each day of your solo trip.
Make the most of quiet moments when you are alone with your thoughts. Reflect on your purpose, career, relationships, worries, blessings and more.
Mindfulness is particularly important if you are suffering from loneliness, homesickness or solo travel depression.
I remember a few of my most moving moments when travelling alone – sleeping under the stars in the Sahara, watching water buffalo cross a river in Laos, and walking the battlefields of Gallipoli.
Small moments can lead to big revelations in your thinking.
+ You challenge yourself to try new experiences
When you travel alone, there are no naysayers looking over your shoulder and saying “don’t do this” or “don’t do that.”
One of the advantages of solo travel is that you are free to try all the experiences that you’ve always wanted to try – adventure activities, exotic foods, partying, relationships and much more!
Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
What are the disadvantages of solo travel? The disadvantages of travelling alone include more expensive accommodation, increased risk of theft and susceptibility to scams, having no one to take care of you when drunk or sick, feeling lonely or anxious, and finding it harder to take photos of yourself.
Let’s delve deeper into the cons of travelling alone:
Practical Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
– Accommodation, car rental and dining can be more expensive
There are hidden costs involved with travelling alone. If you’re not careful, solo travel can become more expensive than group travel because you have to:
- Pay a single’s surcharge when booking private accommodation
- Cover the entire cost of private transport (taxis and Ubers)
- Cover the entire cost of meals (no split bills)
- Pay full price for tickets to attractions (no group discounts)
- Pay more for travel insurance
The best way to save costs when travelling alone is to stay in shared accommodation. You can also save money by catching public transport rather than hiring a vehicle.
Don’t only rely on comparison sites to find the best price on accommodation and transport. Sometimes, suppliers offer better prices if you book directly through their website.
Solo travellers concerned about their budget can also join a group tour. Some tours provide great bang for your buck because the organisers receive a discount when booking bulk accommodation and transport – meaning bigger savings for you.
– Travelling alone can be less safe
One of the most common questions amongst both men and women is: is solo travel safe?
No form of travel is totally safe. But some safety issues are more prevalent when you travel alone:
- Scams: You may not have someone else to alert you to street scams.
- Theft and assault: You may not have someone else to protect you from theft and assault when travelling alone.
- Getting lost: You may not have someone to help you navigate if you get lost or your phone battery dies.
- Drunkenness and intoxication: You will have to find trustworthy friends to take care of you when drunk.
- Illness and disease: You may not have someone else to take care of you when sick.
- Language and cultural differences: You may not have someone else to help you translate the local language or make you aware of cultural practices.
To reduce your susceptibility to the dangers of travelling alone, see these solo travel safety tips. There are many things you can do to keep yourself safe, including using padlocks, sharing your GPS location with family and friends, and setting up fraud alerts on your bank account.
I still join tours as a solo traveller if I’m visiting a particularly dangerous or difficult destination. I share my tour experiences in my article on solo travel vs group travel.
– Difficulty taking photos
One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone is not having friends and family around to take photos of you. However, this problem is easily overcome.
Simply ask your fellow travellers to take photos of you or get good at taking selfies (this is where a selfie stick comes in handy).
Alternatively, if you are serious about photography, carry a tripod and use the timer feature on your camera to capture the perfect shot.
– Sitting next to strangers on transport
A disadvantage of solo travel is that you don’t get to sit next to people that you know and are comfortable with. Instead, you’ll be sat next to strangers on flights, trains and coaches.
Whilst this isn’t an issue most of the time, sometimes fellow passengers can be a hindrance. For example, they may take up your personal space, stink of body odour or chew loudly.
I’ll never forget the time I was on an overnight sleeper coach in Vietnam, mistakenly thinking I had the single bed to myself for the entirety of the journey. You can imagine my surprise when another man jumped on at 2 am and snuggled up beside me.
It is best to include a set of noise-cancelling earphones and an eye mask on your solo travel packing list. And if you and a travel buddy are heading in the same direction, try to book your seats together.
My guide to flying alone for the first time has 10 more tips to make your trip more comfortable.
– Taking care of yourself when ill
At some stage during your solo travel, you will likely get sick with food poisoning, a cold or some other ailment.
The disadvantage of travelling alone is that you won’t have family or friends there to take care of you, make your food and buy you medicine. The best option is to find some private accommodation for a few days and rest until you’ve mended.
– You can’t share your luggage space
Sometimes when you travel with a partner who packs light, you can put some of your luggage in their bags. You don’t have this luxury when travelling alone.
If you buy items overseas and run out of luggage space during your solo travel, your best option is to head to the post office and ship it home.
Social Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
– It’s sad saying goodbye to new friends
Whilst you’ll make a lot of friends (and maybe even a few lovers) whilst travelling alone, one of the biggest disadvantages of solo travel is having to say goodbye to all your new buddies!
When it comes time to go your separate ways, make sure that you’ve added your travel buddies on social media and make plans to catch up with them again in the future.
Despite living in Australia, solo travel has allowed me to make friends from all over the world. On my travels, I regularly catch up with pals from Germany, Sweden, Cambodia, Morocco, Turkey and many other countries.
– Friends and family at home won’t share in your stories
I remember when I got home after my first solo trip to Southeast Asia. I was buzzing and expected all my family and friends to be equally excited about my travel stories. Whilst they were happy to have me home and hear about my adventures, the truth is that they didn’t care as much about my stories as I did.
Sadly, your travel stories won’t mean as much to your family and friends as they do to you. Whilst the story may be entertaining, your audience wasn’t there to witness it. For a memory to be truly special, you have to partake in it.
However, this can also be a nice thing – to know that you have had special experiences that your friends, family and acquaintances haven’t. That is part of what makes solo travel unique.
– Family will worry about you
If you’ve never travelled solo before, you tend to worry more than is necessary. What’s worse is that your family tends to worry even more.
It can be difficult to calm worried parents and siblings. At times, I didn’t reveal to my family what I was doing overseas until I returned because I knew that it would stress them out (e.g. riding a scooter through Vietnam and Thailand).
However, this secretive approach isn’t always best. Generally, you should share your itinerary with your family and keep them updated with regular video calls to quash their worries.
Psychological Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
– Solo travel can get lonely at times
First-time solo travellers often ask, is travelling alone lonely?
There will be moments during your solo trip when you are eating alone or admiring the view and wish that you could share it with someone. But these moments serve as great opportunities for mindfulness and reflection.
Further, you will meet so many people and make so many friends during your solo travels, that you will spend the majority of your time exploring your destination with other travellers.
In those moments that you do feel lonely, you may want to call home and speak to family or friends. Alternatively, head back to your hostel or a local bar and strum up some conversation with other solo travellers. Or you could even join a day tour and keep active to take your mind off of things.
– Homesickness can hit a little harder
One of the cons of travelling alone is that you have no friends or family with you to remind you of home. This can mean that homesickness hits a little harder when you travel solo.
To keep homesickness at bay, make sure to video chat with friends and family regularly. It might also help to carry a little memento from home and set the wallpaper on your phone to include photos of family and friends.
Most importantly, socialise with other travellers and keep active to take your mind off of negative emotions!
– Sticky situations
When you travel with a trusted partner, you have someone else there to speak some sense into you – whether that’s not getting too drunk on a night out, not trusting the scam artist on the street or not eating the dodgy-looking street food.
You’ll get better at avoiding these sticky situations as you gain more solo travel experience. And if you’re new to solo travel, do your best to be vigilant but accept that almost everyone falls victim to tourist traps at some stage.
– Solo travel anxiety
Many people who have never travelled alone before suffer from solo travel anxiety – a fear that they will be overcome by the emotions and practicalities that come with travelling alone.
It is natural to have questions before your first solo trip, such as is it weird to travel alone?
These worries are one of the disadvantages of solo travel. But once you hit the road and start seeing amazing places, making great friends and trying new experiences, you will wonder what you ever worried about.
Throwing yourself into the deep end is the best and only way to overcome solo travel anxiety.
Summary: Advantages and Disadvantages of Travelling Alone
Hopefully, I have dispelled the myths as to what are the advantages and disadvantages of travelling alone.
Travelling alone is best for people who aren’t afraid to face disadvantages such as safety risks and difficult emotions of loneliness, anxiety and homesickness.
If you are adventurous and curious about the world, you can make the most of the advantages of travelling alone. You will return from your solo trip with more friends, a better understanding of the world and a better understanding of yourself.
Are you cut out for solo travel? Take the 15-question quiz: should I travel alone?
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