Following Fiona contains affiliate links which may earn me a commission for any bookings at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Check out the Privacy Policy for more information.

Pros and Cons of Solo Travel

If it isn’t already obvious, I love travelling solo. A lot of people have asked me about the pros and cons of solo travel and why I enjoy solo travel so much.

Travelling alone changed the way I view the world and the way I view myself. Check out some of the pros of solo travel below, as well as some of the things that you should be aware of when planning a trip. 

The Best Bits

You can do exactly what you want

Without a doubt, the biggest pro of solo travel. There is no compromising on where you go, when you go or what you do. 

You want to spend hours in an art museum? No one is going to tell you they are bored. Want to try a restaurant with local cuisine? No one is going to tell you the food is too unfamiliar or spicy and make you go somewhere else. 

There’s a huge amount of freedom in being able to do exactly what you want to do. An excuse to be selfish without negatively impacting anyone else. 

Takeaway coffee cup in front of a lake on a sunny day

You’ll gain confidence

You learn and grow the most when you are challenged, and it is empowering to look back and see what you have overcome. A huge confidence boost.

My first significant solo adventure was a pretty big one. After university I moved to New Zealand for a year under a work visa scheme.

Alone.

I didn’t know anyone in that hemisphere, let alone in the country. I suspect that if I had known what setting up life on the other side of the planet was like I would have been to scared to go.

Instead, it inspired a love of travel, a huge amount of affection for New Zealand (I will always want to go back), and transformed the way I thought about myself.

My self-esteem and confidence were much lower before that trip. By the end of it I realised how much I was capable of on my own, and that I am in fact an interesting person with stories to tell and more to offer. Solo travel was a revelation and a turning point for me.

Learn more about a culture and language

If you travel with someone else it is far easier to stay somewhat removed from the culture around you. Going alone means you have to interact more with the locals. It encourages you to learn a bit more of the language.

You’ll likely find that you are simply more engaged with your surroundings than you would be if you were spending all your time chatting with a friend about things happening at home.

You’ll make new friends

They could be a new friend for just a few hours while you are on a day tour, or perhaps a lifelong new friend that you would never otherwise have met. 

I’ve always found it difficult to approach people I don’t know, however being in a different place where I know I don’t ever have to see that person again surprisingly does make it easier to attempt contact, especially if they are also alone. 

When I was travelling in America I met a lot of people simply by eating at a restaurant bar rather than a table. Americans seem to like my British accent, so as soon as they heard me order they were often happy to strike up conversation.

We might only have spoken for a few hours and I’ll never see them again, but in that window of time they briefly became a friend in an unfamiliar place. 

People love to talk about where they have been and what they would recommend to do and see in the area they live in (this also got me a few free drinks, and on on occasion a free meal when a couple paid my bill without me knowing!

Learn to enjoy your own company

This is such an important life skill, and travelling solo is a crash course. You may well make some friends on the road, but there will be times when you are on your own.

Having dinner out alone, wandering around a new city, spending time quietly in nature. These are all very positive things. Knowing that you can be happy spending time alone helps you learn your worth. You don’t need to be surrounded by people all the time.

It’s one of life’s most important lessons – being on your own is infinitely better than being around people who don’t treat you well, simply because being solo seems scary.

You gain bragging rights!

I say this jokingly as I don’t think bragging is a particularly positive thing, but it always surprises me that people seem to think I am brave for travelling alone. 

My own philosophy is that I would rather go alone than wait for a friend or partner and perhaps never go at all. Also, it’s always nice to tell a story and see the other person look impressed!

I think this one below deserves a little bit of bragging!

The Difficult Bits

Safety

I’ve never had an issue with safety, but I am quite careful about where I will go alone. When travelling solo you do need to be more cautious and more prepared.

I don’t say this to put you off, but it is an important consideration. Find which parts of a city aren’t safe to go to alone. Find out whether public transport is safe in an area or if you really do need to rent a car or use taxis. Make sure someone knows where you are and check in with them.

If you are nervous for a first solo trip go somewhere you have already been, perhaps even a city that is only a few hours away from where you live. Baby steps will build your confidence to try new things. 

Loved ones worrying

I love my parents and I have a great relationship with them, but they do worry about me when I’m travelling. This is especially true of my mother, and doubly true because I have a medical condition.

If she doesn’t hear from me for a couple of days, she starts to worry. She tries not to show it, but it’s pretty clear.

If you are travelling alone, people will often worry about your safety. You can alleviate this by sharing your itinerary, making sure they can see any social media posts you share, and making use of services like WhatsApp.

Difficult situations

I’ve had a few tough times in my solo travels, not to do with safety but other things that have happened.

I have epilepsy and once had a seizure when I was in Melbourne, Australia. I woke up with bruises, sore muscles and confusion, all my typical signs that I’d had a seizure. Coping with that alone was very difficult, primarily because the post-seizure confusion made it very difficult to know what to do and generally how to function without at least a day of recovery time.

In New Zealand during a solo trip, I found out that my grandfather had died. Dealing with grief when I was quite literally on the other side of the planet from my family was very difficult.

The vast majority of my trips have been without incident, but when things do go wrong you have to be able to cope alone.

It’s unlikely that anything that extreme will happen to you. Dealing with any difficult times will make you stronger, but the moment itself is tough.

Cost

Solo travel can be more expensive as you won’t be sharing accommodation or car rental costs. 

However, this can actually work the other way as well. Perhaps you would normally travel with someone who wants a 5-star hotel and fancy restaurants, but you would be happy with a clean safe hostel where you can make your own food. 

You might find that you save money compared to going with someone who is more of a spender. 

Loneliness

Personally, this hasn’t been a problem. I’m an introvert and very happy in my own company. Messaging and video calling services make it easy to catch up with friends and family when I want to.

I highly recommend doing a day tour if you start to feel isolated. I especially love a wine-tasting tour. There is a shared interest and after the first few sips it is far easier to start talking to people you don’t know!

Someone else is responsible for transport and logistics and all you have to do is get on and off a tour bus and enjoy the local wine. What’s not to love? I’ve done wine tours in many places and it’s a great way to get a social ‘fix’ if you are starting to feel isolated.

If wine isn’t your thing, there are food tours, architecture tours, day trips to a local landmark – most cities have enough options that everyone can find something that appeals.

No shared memories

Telling tales about my solo travel adventures and sharing photos is great, but sometimes I wish I had someone who shared a story.

The little funny moments live only in my memory. But even though those experiences weren’t shared, at least I got to have them. 

Decision Fatigue

This is especially true for a longer and more complicated trip. I think it’s also true in life more generally if you live alone or are single. Sometimes you just don’t feel able to make a decision.

Being able to choose exactly what you want to do is great, but occasionally I wish I could just hand over a choice to someone else.

Which one of the 100 hotels in this city should you stay in? Where should you eat tonight? When it comes to smaller decisions that don’t have any significant consequences, it would be nice for someone else to decide sometimes!

River running through a forest on a misty day with mountains in the background

Final Thoughts

  • Always do your research to make sure you will be safe.
  • Exercise the same precautions you would at home.
  • Get travel insurance. Seriously. I’ve never needed to use mine, but if something goes wrong you could potentially be left with a huge bill. Check that you have the right policy. If you have free insurance through your bank account there may be restrictions that you need to be aware of – trips of no more than 2 weeks, coverage in only certain countries, no coverage for ‘extreme activities’ which might include typical travel activities like skiing etc. 
  • You don’t need to pack as much as you think you do. If you overpack you’ll be dragging heavy suitcases and backpacks around. You can always buy things while you are travelling if you leave space in your bags and really need them. You can’t easily reduce what you have if you take 5 favourite items of clothing that it turns out you didn’t actually need but don’t want to get rid of on the road. 
  • Consider buying a local SIM when you arrive so you can use the internet without relying on wifi, especially if (like me) you tend to get lost and need Google Maps. You can download Google Maps for a defined area to use offline, but having data without excessive roaming charges and access to a local number can be useful.
  • Leave yourself more time than you think you need when you are heading to the airport, train station etc. Running to catch something with all your luggage and not knowing if you will make it is pretty stressful – don’t do it to yourself. 

Lastly, soak up every second of the experience

A wine-tasting tour is great for solo travel. Chat with other travellers and have someone to take a photo!

Other posts you might like

How to Plan a USA Road Trip

Is London Safe To Visit

Is New Zealand Worth Visiting?

Is New Zealand In Australia?

Please Share!