I’ve travelled solo a few times, mostly around the UK but I have been abroad on my own too. I do love going by myself but equally there are things I miss about going within a group. So I figured I’d write a list of the pros and cons I personally found when travelling alone. Here we go!
Pro: Setting your own budget
Me and my friends all earn different amounts of money and we all have our own commitments to pay for like rent, petrol, car insurance, vet bills, transport and a ton of other stuff so we can often have different expectations for budget. This can cause stress when I know I’m getting a bad payday that month and my friends are telling me I’ll need £100 for a hotel, £300 for spending money and at least £50 for transport. The benefit of travelling solo is that you can set your own budget!
This doesn’t necessarily mean going for the cheapest options which I did when booking my first solo trip abroad to Poland. For my solo birthday trip to London I wanted to stay in a decent hotel so I spent more than I usually ever would on a hotel room and travelled first class on the train, something my friends wouldn’t necessarily have wanted to do or been able to afford to do. I also saw five west end shows that weekend, another factor that my friends might not have been able to afford.
Setting your own budget makes the trip way less stressful as you can sort the budget out yourself without having to worry whether your friends can afford it or whether you can afford it!
Con: No candid photos
I’m pretty sure this began because Hirst took a photo of me, Becca and Jess looking out across Telford that we weren’t aware of. We all loved the photo so since then we always try to get cute candid photos of each other whenever we’re on a trip.
But when travelling solo there’s no one to capture those candid moments for you and the only photos you can take are selfies or if you’re truly feeling brave you can ask someone to take a posed photo of yourself. And these are amazing photos, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something I love about the effort my friends go to so that we all get cute unposed photos. Even though a lot of the time it’s just the back of our heads I still love them so much because usually you can tell we were happy in those moments or in some occasions that we were irritated which can be funny to look back on.
Pro: Planning your own itinerary
I mentioned earlier about seeing five west end shows across the weekend – for some people this would’ve been too much and they’d have no interest in that whereas it was my idea of a perfect weekend!
When travelling with friends you often have to make compromises which should work both ways, you should see stuff they’re interested in that you don’t care about and they should visit things you care about that they don’t. However, sometimes this can be an advantage because you can enjoy things you wouldn’t have visited had your friends not suggested it. For example in Amsterdam Hirst insisted we visit the ice bar which I was a bit salty about because I didn’t want to but it was actually one of my highlights from the trip.
Going by yourself though means you can focus on the things you’re definitely interested in seeing and you don’t have to run it past anyone else. You can also take as long as you want or as little as you want. If you visit a particularly boring museum you can make the executive decision to just leave instead of asking your friends politely if they want to go. If you have time to kill before the next item on your list you can choose where you want to kill that time.
Con: If you’re stuck there’s only you
There have been a few times I’ve been with my friends on a trip and we’ve gone into a complete panic because we thought we’d messed something up or we’re lost or whatever else that sends us into a bit of a panic. At least when we’re together we can all try and sort the problem out together, or in some circumstances you can just let yourself get stressed until your friend comes up with a solution. When you travel alone though there’s only you to sort yourself out.
I was coming home from London one evening and as I sat on the train they announced they’d cancelled it. I had maybe £20 in my bank account and Telford is three hours away. No one was going to come and collect me so I needed to sort the problem out myself. Very luckily anyone travelling towards Birmingham could get the train from Marylebone with their ticket – I hadn’t heard this announcement but a man had heard me stressing to my Mom on the phone and very kindly told me where to go.
This must be a lot worse when travelling abroad. Like if my plane got cancelled and I was by myself with little to no money I’m not sure what I’d do. I did have a bit of a panic where I thought I wasn’t going to catch a bus in time and potentially miss my flight but luckily I got to the airport in plenty of time and I was fine.
Travelling solo means having to sort out your problems alone which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing because it gives you a bit of independence and proves that you can do pretty much anything if you put your mind to it. But it can be quite scary not to have someone to lean on and help you sort out the problem.
Pro: No arguments!
Me and my friends go on a lot of sightseeing holidays and although I love the lot of them to pieces it’s safe to say that after a day of walking around my legs hurt, I’m tired and usually hungry, and often feeling a bit grumpy. So if one of my friends starts getting on my nerves I will snap at them. And they will snap at me. And that’s fine because we all know we’re just tired and grumpy but these ‘snaps’ could lead into more serious arguments.
Luckily we’re all used to each other now so we kind of know when to leave each other alone but there have been times we’ve gotten into proper arguments and spent a while sulking before eventually making it up with each other. The benefit of travelling solo is that even if you’re tired, grumpy and hungry there’s no one to snap at so you can just spend time recharging and you’ll feel better again with no harm done.
Con: Less confident days
I have days where I either feel quite confident and can talk to anyone, or I’ll have a day where I have no confidence at all and I get terrified at the thought of just ordering dinner. When travelling with my friends if I’m having a less confident day I can rely on them for a while until I feel okay again and vice versa. But when travelling solo there’s only me and I have to suck it up and get on with it.
Usually in England I kind of get over myself and get on with it but in Poland I did struggle because I found my anxiety was a lot worse because I worried no one would be able to understand me. Because of this I found I didn’t eat as much as I should’ve because I was worried about attempting to order food. It helps having my friends around because I know they’re in the same awkward boat as me but alone it’s completely different.
Pro: Continuing with your routine
It’s safe to say that me and my friends have fairly different routines. For example they get up super early to do their make-up whereas I would prefer to sleep in until the last available second. Becca pretty much never eats whereas me and Jess will eat breakfast and then an hour later be hungry for something else. And that’s fine, it’s not the end of the world having to plan your schedule around other people but let’s face it, it can be nice to just continue with your own routine.
Even if it’s something as simple as being able to shower as soon as you get back to your hotel room. In Greece it was so hot we’d all feel a bit gross by the time we got back to the hotel but since there were four of us we had to take it in turns to have the shower. Since I take the longest I generally go in last. Not when I travel solo though, I can hop in the shower without worrying that I’m being selfish for using it for too long.
Con: Everyone assumes you’re going to die
When I booked my first trip abroad I went to my Dad’s house with two pieces of news. I was getting a tattoo and also I was going to Poland by myself. He freaked out so badly about Poland that I was terrified to tell him about my tattoo – when I eventually did he didn’t even care. It was bizarre.
Even those who had reacted calmly to my news were not chill while I was away. Apparently Sue, who sits next to me at work, asked several times if I was okay whilst I was away in Poland and Shirley had to yell “It’s okay, she’s put pictures on Facebook so she’s not dead!” I was literally not put in any danger throughout the entire trip yet you would’ve thought I was being held at gun point each night. However the moment you’re with a friend everyone assumes that everything is absolutely fine.
So there we have it, my cons and pros of travelling solo. Feel free to comment any pros or cons you’ve found!