We’ve all seen the articles touting the perks of solo travel flood our Facebook feeds.
“Why travelling solo is so important”
“Why you need to experience the freedom of travelling alone”
“How solo travel will change your life forever”
They wax philosophical about how being forced out of your comfort zone means you’ll make new friends, build up your self-confidence, and get to go wherever you want, whenever you want. Oh, and did you hear how it might even make you more employable, so you can earn enough money to eat all of the avocado toast?
I call B.S.
Seriously, have any of these people ever actually tried travelling alone? Because then they’d know it’s the worst, and the only “life-changing” thing about it is that it makes you hold on to your current relationships for dear life so you’ll always have someone willing to head off on an adventure with you. Even travel influencers who make a living off boasting about their solo trips around the globe aren’t usually alone thanks to well-planned meet-ups—just watch their Instagram stories for proof.
I’ve given solo travel the college try, traipsing around spots like Panama, Spain and Belgium when I wanted to extend my trip longer than my travel companions could. Sure there were some bright spots, like the adorbs day trip I took to Zaanse Schans, spotting monkeys near the Panama Canal, and sampling Framboise and mussels in Brussels. But would I say those solitary experiences reshaped my entire outlook on life? Definitely not. Plus let’s be honest: as a female I have to put safety first, which means sometimes I’m more comfortable staying within the confines of my hotel versus wandering around a foreign city, which puts a serious dent in my ability to get to know a place.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I think solo travel is the worst.
(If you’re still brave enough to head out on a solo trip anyway, listen to my tips for successful solo travel below)
1. It’s More Expensive
They’re the two words that make every solo adventurer shudder: “single-supplement.” Charged by the likes of cruise lines, resorts and tours that base their rates on double-occupancy, it means that solo travellers have to pay more for the exact same experience as their paired-up counterparts.
The single-supplement is just one example of how prices can quickly climb when there’s no one to split them with. Taxi rides, hotel rooms and rental cars cost the same regardless of how many people are using them, and are inevitable unless you plan on couch surfing and taking the bus everywhere. Math really sucks sometimes.
2. Eating Alone
This is hands-down the most annoying thing about solo travel IMO. I’m usually perfectly fine to check out landmarks and go on day trips alone, but when it comes time for dinner I’m a total wimp. I despise eating by myself, and a sit-down restaurant is typically not one of those places where people will just come up to you and start chatting. So, basically you have to saddle up to the bar and hope there’s a nice bartender to chat with, bring a book/phone to entertain yourself, or simply stare into the distance until your meal arrives you can scarf it down and hightail it out of there.
I avoid all of those options like the plague, so if I have no luck lining up a dining companion ahead of time then I do the next best thing: hotel room service. There’s a reason it exists, and the best part is you can bring your own bottle of wine and no one will judge you. #Winning.
3. Doing everything yourself
I consider myself an Independent Woman (cue Destiny’s Child track), but there’s no denying a lot of things about travel are just easier with a partner. Like the airport. How annoying is it when you want to use the washroom, and need to drag all of your bags into the tiny stall with you because you can’t leave them with someone else at the gate? Or in the airport lounge, when you have to try and balance a drink and plate of food in one hand, as you drag your carry-on luggage with the other?
And don’t even get me started on taking selfies. It’s one thing to whip out the tripod and self-timer when you’re hiking alone in a national park, but it’s downright embarrassing to attempt Insta-worthy solo shots when there are other tourists around. Multiply that by 10 if you’re also staring off into the distance wearing a floppy hat.
Also, no one is good at everything, which is why travelling in a group is handy for playing off each other’s strengths. For example, I’m a total disaster with maps and directions, so I always leave the navigating to whoever I’m travelling with. But as for actually booking things, watch out! I’m the Queen Bee when it comes to scoring an amazing deal on a luxe hotel room or getting our flights for next-to-nothing with airline points. When you travel solo, you have no one else to depend on for anything, which means there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself literally or figuratively going around in circles at some point (in my experience, typically on the New York City subway line).
There’s a reason they say there’s safety in numbers. Safety is always the top consideration when deciding whether or not to embark on a solo trip, and even more important if you’re a woman. There are usually a few things that men don’t have to worry about which women do, such as falling victim to unwanted advances or being constantly propositioned (which happened to me in such alarming frequency while I was simply trying to read a book in a park in Madrid, that I quickly gave up and went back to my hostel). In places like Caye Caulker, Belize, the men are known to catcall female travellers, which sure puts a damper on the “laid-back island” vibe. Both of those situations could likely be avoided by not travelling alone, particularly for women who also happen to be travelling with a male companion.
Unfortunately no one is immune to theft, which is a bad situation no matter what but even worse if you’re flyin’ solo. I know someone who had all his money stolen in Spain, but managed to salvage the rest of the trip because his pals covered his expenses along the way. If you’re travelling solo, it can be tough to get your hands on cash from afar (especially if you happen to be in a third-world country at the time), and it’s a whole other ballgame if you have the misfortune of being injured on the road and there’s no one to ensure you get the care you need.
Tip: Keep a piece of paper on you at all times with a scan of your passport, as well as important numbers like emergency contact information and embassy numbers.
Finally, one of my favourite things about travel is that you get to share all of those crazy experiences with someone else, and laugh about them endlessly years later. Unfortunately, inside jokes aren’t quite as funny when you were the only one there. And really at the end of the day, isn’t travel all about creating memorable experiences?
Do you hate solo travel as much as I do, or actually (gasp!) love it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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