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What to Consider Before Traveling Solo

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 6 9

Traveling alone can be the chance of a lifetime. There are many exciting possibilities to explore when you make the decision to hit the road on your own. If you decide to plan a solo vacation it also gives you the opportunity to plan the perfect dream vacation.

Before traveling alone though, it is a good idea to first weigh out the pros and cons of your options because these both will play a role in how you plan your trip. Taking a solo trip requires careful thought because you'll want to ensure you have everything in place because once you're off on your own, you'll have to rely completely on yourself if things don't go as you'd hoped.

Person walking with a backpack
Credit: brainware3000 on Flickr/CC BY 2.0 with Attribution

Pros of Traveling Alone

The biggest advantage of traveling alone is the fact you are the sole decision maker. You get to plan the location, itinerary, meals, and mode of travel. Pretty much any decision or option which arises along the way, you will be the one who makes all the choices.

The ability of having total freedom of choice allows you to customize and design your ideal vacation to your heart's content. It also affords you the ability to change the itinerary any time you want to along the way with no conflict. There are little or no strings attached to itineraries when traveling solo. The only ties you have are any potential agreements you make with accommodations or tickets, but everything else is up to you.

This complete flexibility is great because you can change your plans ahead of time or on a whim. You want to sleep-in one day? Go for it. If you want to spend an extra day at a particular location, you have the option to adjust your plans in order to accommodate this desire. When you travel alone, the sky's the limit in terms of elasticity, you can stretch or limit your plans however you like. 

With solo travel you have total autonomy. You plan it, make the decisions and get to enjoy the whole process with the feeling that you did it with total self-sufficiency. Got yourself in a pickle while away? If this occurs you'll need to be the one to come up with a solution. This satisfaction of self-fulfillment of planning and carrying out a trip on your own is immeasurable for some people.

Another significant benefit to traveling alone is since you aren't traveling with companions you will likely appear more approachable to others. Also, with no companions, you're more likely to introduce yourself to other people. This will result in meeting people from different places and you'll experience connecting with so many new people.

Costs are often a source of problem for groups of people traveling together; when you travel alone you can dictate when, where and how much you want to spend. When you travel alone there are no worries over splitting meal or accommodations and you can plan your trip to suit your personal budget.

A Naval Support Activity Mid-South Sailor takes a moment to decide which credit card to use

 

Despite the terrific benefits that accompany going on a solo vacation, before making the decision to go it alone you should take into consideration the drawbacks that are tied in with solo traveling.

Cons of Traveling Alone

Safety is a primary drawback of traveling alone. There is always a higher level of safety in numbers. If you are journeying by yourself you have to take extra strides to be careful. A thief or other unsavory individual may mark you as an easy target after observing you. While safety shouldn't necessarily deter you from traveling alone, it is an important consideration. To mitigate any risks, it is a wise idea to always stay in populated places and don't stray too far off the beaten path alone.

Another drawback is if you get sick or injured you have no one to turn to who can stay with you. This is another safety consideration to think about as you plan your trip. For instance, if you have health conditions where you may need assistance, this will make the difference between renting a cabin alone or staying in a hotel or other populated accommodation.

If you get lost or your car breaks down, this also can be a problem for solo travelers. This is especially true if you are visiting another country and don't know the language.

Pennsylvania highway in the fall
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

You really have to be careful about who you trust no matter where you are or who you are with, but this goes doubly true if you are alone. One of the biggest drawbacks for some people is that loneliness may accompany traveling alone. While it is great to be able to come and go as you please, sometimes you can get lonely in your own thoughts and may miss someone to share them with. While you may meet lots of new people and strike up interesting conversations, this is not always quite the same as confiding in someone you trust or sharing a special moment with someone you're close to. Also, when the day is over and you're returning to your room, there is no one with you to share the day's exciting events. You can call someone and fill them in, but it isn't quite the same as talking about a shared experience.

During your travels if you haven't met many people, this may heighten those feelings of loneliness. After a few days of talking to no one but yourself, this may get depressing for some people. This depends on the type of person you are; if you are the kind of person who prefers steady companionship, this aspect of solo travel may be more of an issue.

Travel with a friend
Credit: zenjazzygeek on Flickr/CC BY 2.0 with Attribution

If you run out of ideas of things to do or if you decide you're not happy about your itinerary, you'll have to recreate new ideas of places to go and see. A benefit of traveling with others is there is more opportunity for innovative thoughts if the game plans change.

Depending on the kind of trip you're planning, it may be more expensive than if you were to take a similar tour with a group or with other people. While you have flexibility in daily expenses, you can't share lodging or vehicle expenses and you won't be eligible for any group discounts.

There are many pros and cons associated with traveling alone. Going on a solo trip can be a rewarding experience or a total wash. If you carefully weigh out the advantages and disadvantages before making plans, you'll have a better idea of if a solo vacation is the ideal trip for you.

People walking on the National Mall
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved
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Comments

Jan 13, 2015 2:36pm
WriterJoanne
Good article outlining the pros and cons of travelling alone. I would go alone on a bus tour as you quickly get to know others. I did take a bus tour of NY, Washington and eastern states and it was a wonderful experience, although I went with a friend.
Jan 16, 2015 2:53am
LeighGoessl
I haven't traveled far alone in some time, but I used to do road trips in my car to other states. I like your idea of a bus tour a lot. Thanks so much for commenting Joanne, appreciated :).
Jan 15, 2015 3:03am
Rota
Great practical words. I will be doing some sole travelling this year so it is a great reminder for me.
Jan 16, 2015 2:53am
LeighGoessl
Thanks Rota! I hope you have a wonderful trip and experience :)
Jan 15, 2015 3:04am
Rota
Great article and reminders for me as a sole traveller.
Jan 17, 2015 8:22pm
shar-On
Good helpful information on traveling alone. And the most important that you point out is definitely the safety aspect, in my opinion. We are traveling at the moment throughout Australia and we meet up with so many both men and women traveling on their own.

We have a dog which helps deter some of the troublesome type of people and this could be good for those on their own. Again you cannot always stay in some places with a dog either. Some times a group of up the two or three caravans or motorhomes with women in will travel on their own but join up along the way for company. That way they still live on their own but have travel companions in another vehicle.
Jan 18, 2015 3:52am
LeighGoessl
That's a great idea to travel together but separate for those who want the solo experience. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Hope you are having a wonderful trip! :)
Feb 27, 2015 11:27pm
Millsy36
I often travel alone and enjoy the freedom of making all of the decisions.
Feb 28, 2015 3:32am
LeighGoessl
I could see the appeal of that - I haven't traveled alone in ages, but I do like to not "plan" everything and, depending on the destination, often make it up as we go along.
Thank you Millsy for commenting, appreciated!
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