More women are traveling alone than ever before. After spending the past year traveling mostly solo, it’s a trend that’s hard to ignore both online and in real life. All over Pinterest and the blogosphere, adventurous women are sharing the highs and lows of traveling by themselves. Most of these women laud their experiences traveling solo as life-changing.
Across the four continents I explored this year, I met women of all ages and background traveling solo. Their experiences were also overwhelmingly positive. I’m happy to report that my travels alone have also been enriching and mostly blunder-free. Still, I would be lying if I said traveling solo was all cupcakes and champagne.
Without further ado, here are my personal least favorite aspects of traveling alone:
At home or on the road, I’m reluctant to treat myself to a nice dinner for one. Not because I’m afraid of others judging me (though this a serious concern for a lot of people), but because it’s boring! Even in the days of smartphones and tablets, I still can’t manage to keep myself entertained at a sit-down restaurant – especially in countries where dining out is a long social ritual.
When I see other people enjoying their meal out with friends or family, I can’t help but get a little jealous. Good conversation and company add to any dining experience. For obvious reasons, I’m not the only traveler who hates eating alone. Check out these tips on how to make dining alone more entertaining.
Nobody to Look Out For You
You should always be careful while traveling or going out for the night – alone or with friends. Still, it’s nice to have someone there to have your back, or tell you if there’s something in your teeth.
Without friends, deflecting creepy guys becomes exponentially more difficult – as does waking up on time for your flight or remembering where you left your phone charger. There’s no one to watch your bag when you have to use the restroom at the train station, or when you want to go for a swim at the beach.
When you’re alone, you’re forced to rely on yourself alone. While this is also one of the most rewarding aspects of traveling solo, it can also be the hardest.
Everything is More Expensive
Depending on where you are, splitting an AirBnB rental or hotel amongst two travelers can often be cheaper than two hostel beds. As a solo traveler, you’re forced to pay a lot more if you want some privacy.
Tours are often more cost effective for groups or couples, and sometimes solo travelers are even forced to pay single supplements.
Some foods, like paella or tapas, for example, are great for sharing. Not only because the portions are massive, but because having someone to split the bill with makes eating out way more affordable.
If you want to cook to save a few bucks, getting the portions right for just one can be tricky and less cost-effective.
In Slovenia, I met a girl traveling with her boyfriend for several weeks. Traveling together had caused some friction between the two. When I told her I was traveling alone, she revealed how much she missed backpacking by herself.
When further discussing the pros and cons of traveling alone, she said: “well, I guess it is nice to have someone to talk to after your iPod dies.” There have been many long flights or train rides, where I wish I had someone to keep me company.
Sometimes it’s harder to meet people than you anticipated and you’re left with more time alone than you would like. While I usually enjoy my independence, some experiences are better shared.
To end things on a positive note, I do have to admit that I prefer traveling alone. For me, the pros of traveling solo exponentially outweigh the cons – nothing beats the freedom of being able to do whatever you want whenever you want!
If you prefer traveling solo, what are you favorite and least favorite aspects? Considering traveling alone but are nervous – what worries you the most?