In my 28 years of life, I’ve spent 2 years travelling alone, 1 year vacationing with family, 6 months with tour groups, another 6 months on couples getaways and 3 months holidaying with friends.
And after all that time spent on the road, I have a decisive answer to the question: is it better to travel alone or with someone?
Below, I compare solo travel vs group travel vs travelling with someone (i.e. family or friends). You can judge which style of travel is best for you based on your personality.
Nomadic Yak has 100s of tips if it’s your first time travelling solo!
Is it Better to Travel Alone or in a Group?
|Solo Travel||Tour Group||Travel with Friends||Draw|
|Freedom and flexibility||✓|
|Adventure and immersion||✓|
|Activities and sightseeing||✓|
|Planning and organising||✓|
When it comes to solo travel vs group travel vs travelling with someone, I recommend that 8/10 people should travel alone (or travel alone at least once in their lifetime).
It is better to travel alone if you are adventurous and independent. Solo travellers have total freedom when planning their itinerary and budget. They also have more opportunities to make new friends, immerse themselves in authentic cultural experiences and develop self-confidence.
It is better to travel with a tour group if you are hesitant about travelling alone for the first time or visiting a potentially dangerous destination. Organised tours make it easy for solo travellers to plan and budget for their trip – all you have to do is choose a destination and find a tour that takes your interest.
It is better to travel with someone (i.e. family or friends) if you are concerned about your health, safety or social skills. Whilst you won’t get to enjoy many of the benefits that come with travelling alone or joining a tour group as a solo traveller, you will get to make fond memories and build stronger relationships with your family or friends.
Solo Travel vs Group Travel vs Travel With Friends
The battle between solo travel vs group travel vs travel with friends can be broken down into 10 categories.
Looking over these categories, you can decide whether it is better to travel alone or with someone.
Flexibility and freedom
Winner: Solo travel
Travelling alone provides you with the freedom to set your own itinerary and the flexibility to make spontaneous decisions.
Travelling with a tour group means you will have a set itinerary and dates that you must stick to. However, you may have some free days to do some exploring alone.
Travelling with friends or family means you have to compromise with them when creating an itinerary and choosing your accommodation, activities, eateries, etc. This can be difficult if you have different budgets or interests.
My experience: I find it better to travel alone because I’ll often befriend other travellers and want to travel with them. Together, we’ll decide to stick around town for another day, head in the same direction or go our separate ways.
Self-discovery and personal growth
Winner: Solo travel
Travelling alone forces you to be independent and overcome challenges on your own. You become more socially skilled and self-confident having to meet new people each day. Solo travel also gives you time and space to think about your life (e.g. your career, relationships, etc.)
Travelling with a tour group gives you some independence. You still have the challenge of befriending people on the tour. And you can find some alone time each evening for reflection or journaling.
Travelling with someone (friends or family) means that you can rely on others to help you. This may be better if you have fear and anxiety about travelling alone. However, you won’t experience as much personal growth because you will be less independent.
My experience: During my first solo trip in South East Asia, I had to make new friends every day, got lost on my first night in Bangkok, had my phone stolen in Phuket and had my motorbike tyre pop three times in rural Vietnam. But these challenges brought me out of my shell and made me more self-confident!
Worried that solo travel will be awkward? See the tips in my article, is travelling alone weird?
Immersion and authenticity
Winner: Solo travel
Solo travel is the most adventurous form of travel. Because you do not have to worry about the safety or interests of others, you can stray away from tourist traps. This allows you to have more genuine interactions with locals and enjoy authentic cultural experiences.
Organised tours can be touristy or adventurous. If you want to join a tour, try to book one that takes you beyond the popular tourist traps to remote villages and sights. Also, try to find a tour that benefits the local community and gets them involved in tourism (I have found that G Adventures does an excellent job of this).
Travelling with friends or family often means that you stick to comfortable and crowded tourist traps. You have fewer interactions with the locals and the cultural experience is less authentic.
My experience: When I travel alone, I have friendly interactions with the local people almost every day. Although I may not speak their language, they’ll often invite me to visit their homes, meet their families and dine with them. This has happened all over the world, in places like Vietnam, Morocco and Spain.
Safety and support
Winner: Group travel
Travelling alone involves taking risks. You should take extra precautions and follow these solo travel safety tips. For more information on the dangers of solo travel, see my article: Is it safe to travel alone?
Joining a tour group is safer than travelling alone. If you choose an accredited tour company, you will travel under the protection of a professional guide. The guide is responsible for your safety and should only let you partake in safe activities.
Travelling with someone (friends or family) is also safer than travelling alone. You have people around you to help, comfort and support you if something goes wrong. However, no form of travel is perfectly safe. Even group travel comes with dangers.
My experience: After years of travelling alone, I feel confident in taking responsibility for my own safety. Solo travel means I do not have to worry about the safety of others. But if I am visiting a particularly dangerous destination, I will still travel with a tour group.
Friendships and romance
Winner: Solo travel
Travelling alone forces you to interact with strangers. You will befriend many like-minded travellers who are looking to meet people as well. You quickly become socially confident and a master at making new friends. And along the way, you may even encounter a few romantic partners (and enjoy more sex than the average person).
Travelling with a tour group means you only have to befriend the people on your tour. You don’t need to befriend new people each day.
Travelling with someone familiar means that you don’t have to leave your social bubble. Most of the time, you’ll only interact with your family or friends and won’t bother to meet new people.
My experience: I was nervous about having to make new friends during my first solo trip. But I didn’t need to be – it was dead easy because everyone shares travel as a common interest. To break the ice, simply ask about people’s travel plans. I share 12 more tips in my guide to solo travel for introverts.
Blossom into a social butterfly with my 9-Step Guide to Making 100s of Friends While Travelling Alone!
Winner: Solo travel
Solo travel allows you to determine your own budget. You can plan your whole trip around how much you want to spend. And you can extend your trip by reducing your daily travel costs.
An organised tour will have a fixed cost and you will pay for the trip upfront. This is good if you have a budget in mind. However, be aware of added costs (e.g. optional day trips and private room surcharges).
Travelling with friends means you will have to compromise on your budget. You have to make a group decision on how much you spend. This may mean that you end up spending more or less than you wanted to.
My experience: When I travel alone, I like to travel as cheaply as possible and avoid the hidden costs of solo travel. I stay in comfortable but affordable hostels, take the train or coach because it is cost-effective and avoid fancy restaurants. This means I can travel longer for less.
Attractions and sightseeing
Winner: Solo travel
When you travel alone, you can choose which attractions you visit, when you visit and for how long you visit. You also have the option of visiting by yourself, joining a day tour or getting together some of your travel buddies from the hostel.
Travelling with a tour group means that you will only visit the attractions laid out on the itinerary. You will not have much say over how long you get to spend at each attraction. However, some tours may provide you with free time during which you can explore as you like.
Travelling with someone (friends or family) means that you have to compromise with others regarding which attractions you visit and when. You’ll likely end up paying for attractions that you don’t necessarily want to visit.
My experience: When I travel alone, I will often go sightseeing with some new buddies I have just met in the hostel. This gives us something to bond over and we often return with a few funny stories. Other times, if no one else is interested in tagging along, I’ll visit the attraction myself and do it at my own pace.
Planning and organising
Winner: Group travel
Solo travel means that you will have to plan the trip by yourself. This is beneficial because you can tailor your trip to your interests and budget. However, it can take a few days of work.
An organised tour makes trip planning easy. All you have to do is pick a destination, choose a reputable tour, pack your bags and buy your flights.
Travelling with friends means that you share the burden of planning (although, one person is often left to do it all by themselves). You will have to compromise when making decisions on accommodation, attractions, transport, etc. This can make it difficult if everyone has different interests and budgets.
My experience: I find it easier and more enjoyable to plan my own trips. Solo travel saves me from having to send countless messages and bank transfers to my friends or family. However, I will join a group tour if travelling to a dangerous or difficult destination.
Solo travel isn’t always exciting. But is solo travel boring?
Winner: Solo travel
Travelling alone means you have flexibility when choosing your accommodation. You can either enjoy the privacy of a single room or give up your privacy in favour of a more affordable shared room (e.g. a hostel dorm).
Travelling with a tour group means that you will have almost no choice concerning accommodation. You will likely have to share a room with another group member. However, provide the option of paying a surcharge for a single private room.
Travelling with someone often means that you will share a room with your family or friends. You have little privacy. You’ll almost always be with someone during your trip.
My experience: When I travel alone, I split my time between dorms and private rooms in hostels. I will stay in a dorm if I’m wanting to save money or meet new people. I will stay in a private room if I’ve already spent a few days in a dorm and need some time alone.
Worried that solo travel is lonely? See my 30 tips on how to travel alone and not be lonely!
Solo travel is an adventure. You return home with exciting tales and stories that your family and friends weren’t there to experience. They are special to you and you alone.
Travelling in a tour group means that you will share your memories with a new group of friends. Although you will all go your separate ways after the tour, you will likely stay in touch and may even travel together again.
Travelling with friends or family allows you to create lifelong memories. You will be telling these stories around the dinner table for years to come.
My experience: I have fond memories of travelling alone, travelling in tour groups and travelling with my family and friends. Each is special in its own way.
Summary: Is it Better to Travel Alone or With Someone?
Solo travel is better if you are adventurous and willing to challenge yourself. You can set your own itinerary and budget, make new friends and enjoy authentic cultural experiences.
Group tours are great if you want to travel alone but are still hesitant. You can choose a set itinerary that interests you, make new friends and enjoy the safety of a professional guide and other group members.
Travelling with someone else (family or friends) is better if you are concerned about the risks and challenges that come with travelling alone. You will have someone else with you to look out for your safety, emotional needs and health.
Still not sure what to do? Consider all the advantages and disadvantages of travelling alone.
Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak
Find more first-time solo travel tips on Nomadic Yak!
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Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.
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