Solo travel seems to be all the rage during the past few years. It is obviously a personal choice. I went on my first solo trip to Queenstown, New Zealand and it was the greatest trip of my life. I went over my 21st birthday, and I must be a little crazy in the head because who would want to be by themselves on their 21st? Well I wanted to do something different and try things my own way. Here are some pros and cons of doing just that.
1. You can do whatever you want. I mean how awesome is it not having to worry about if someone else is having fun or not, or compromising on missing out on that movie because it’s too scary for the other person. Traveling solo means you get to do whatever you want when you want. If you want to spend the entire day in your hotel room; you can.
2. Along with doing whatever you want, you don’t have to wait on people. You don’t have to stick around if you’ve already been through the museum; or if you’re done looking at the tourist stop, you don’t have to stand around waiting for your partner to take what seems like a million photos of the same thing.
3. You’ll be surprised, but it’s actually easier to talk to other people when you travel solo mostly because there are lots of other people traveling solo as well looking to meet new people. When I was on my trip, I was by myself for about three out of the seven days I was in New Zealand. People are so willing to open up to a single person rather then a group. Maybe it’s because they feel that they will be judged more by a group in that one of the people in the group might not like them. Plus, no one wants to see another person alone, and if you just start by saying hi you will rarely get shut out.
4. It is a true reflection of yourself. You have to keep yourself entertained. I think it’s a true testament to how you handle situations on your own as well as knowing what you are into and what will make you happy when you are by yourself. People always want validation through family, friends, partners, but when you don’t have that for a time, what do you do?
1. Although I’ve had no problem, being solo might make you seem more of a target. Since you don’t have anyone to walk with at night, or watch over you when you had one too many, you really have to be crazy. Of course it’s all about common sense. Never do anything completely crazy that you wouldn’t do at home. Stay alert and have at least a clue of where you’re going.
2. You can’t share the experience. Sometimes it’s nice to look back at a series of travel moments or events and talk with someone about how it was or to laugh over memories of that night. Being on your own you don’t have that opportunity of sharing an experience. No one will get your inside jokes or understand the people you met because they weren’t there.
3. Another obvious one is loneliness. Some people can handle it, but those moments when it’s been a long day or crappy weather might be the time when you miss having a friend to curl up or watch movies with. Not knowing anyone who truly knows you as a friend could be hard.
4. No one to take photos of you. This may seem like a funny one, and it is, but I always found it hilarious that I didn’t have anyone to take any photos of me in a certain place. I had to ask strangers or not be in photos at all. So, when I return home, everyone is asking why I’m not in any photos.
Jokes aside, traveling solo is worth it and it’s a huge pleasure to be able to go out on your own. I was always so scared to do it because everyone kept telling me it was too dangerous, but I listened to my gut and I chose to do what I wanted to do because I wanted to get a different experience out of it. Don’t think about it like the Nike slogan says…just do it!
About the Author: The EM, Inc. Travel “Guru” Kayla Brock grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Ill. She chose to go to an international university in London for her bachelor’s degree because it offered her an opportunity to study journalism and communications in ways that she felt she would not experience in the United States. Being overseas was an easy decision for her because she had the freedom to travel and explore different cultures from her own. So far, she has been to 20 countries and also has traveled to 24 out of 50 states in the U.S. Kayla enjoys travel writing, photography (digital and film), video editing, hiking, and adventure sports.
Photo Credit: Kayla Brock