9 Reasons to Solo Travel. More Reasons to Avoid it.
It’s simply not for everyone.
With social media so hyped about solo travel, the glamorous reels, and scenic snaps, it looks all so adventurous and wild to resist. Yes, I’d agree with most of it. But it’s not all exciting and fun.
As a person who’s traveled every way possible — with friends, family, and alone, here’s the reality behind solo travel. It’s not for all, but it’s an experience to endeavor.
Here goes the list of benefits of traveling alone, and also about its unspoken pitfalls!
Benefits of Traveling Alone
It’s such a narrowed-down view to talk of the benefits of traveling alone when there’s so much reason not to. In fact, I read a deep post on 5 reasons why solo travel is the worst. There were some points to rewind onto as I went through.
Yet, I strongly believe that solo travel immerses one into the depths of travel and understanding a destination. There are both sides to every subject. I understood the real edge of solo travel when I went along with some friends. There are pros and cons of both. But I’d pick solo travel anytime over group travel.
So here are the benefits of traveling alone:
1. You Travel at your own pace
Every person has their own way of traveling. Some people visit a park and complain it’s all just trees, what’s there to see here? Others could find the very same park majestic and rich with its flora diversity.
I’d spend a whole day at the Visvesvaraya museum while most take only 2–3 hours for it. What’s interesting to you isn’t to everyone out there.
Unless you’re traveling with like-minded people, I’d put this point ahead of any other on this list of benefits of traveling alone.
2. Easy to Improvise your Plans
Traveling to a destination is never a straight easy-plan and proceed drill. There’s always something to go wrong how much ever we organize our trip. There hasn’t been a time I traveled without messing up. The last time I wore sports shoes to a beach and returned with it sand-filled!
Moments before (or after) I got my shoes filled with sand!
Even when traveling alone, you’re bound to make mistakes, mess up, and be lost at times. But that’s also the best part. It’s only YOU. With others, the more your travel mates mess up, the lousier the travel and time management gets — ultimately compromising the trip on behalf of the whole team.
Similarly, you get to decide the time you spend with the locals and the places you visit. Unless you have a tight budget, you have the advantage over the length of stay!
3. Socialize and Make Friends (with the locals!)
When traveling with family, not many of us talk with the locals of that spot. We tend to stay in our family bubble while only one talks for the team. Here’s where you step out of your comfort zone.
It not only helps you build social skills but also enjoys the company of people living in that place. You’ll actually enjoy talking with its locals.
To those who haven’t tried, believe it or not, most locals love speaking about their place, its specialty, culture, and its secrets. Be it a waiter at a local restaurant, a taxi driver, or your local hiking guide — make sure to talk and socialize with them. It’s the small things that matter.
Imagine traveling halfway across the world to an active volcano in Bali and returning without knowing how the locals have managed to live by it for decades!
Not used to socializing myself, it took me a good deal to cajole myself to speak to a priest of a temple built centuries ago in Dharwad. But in the end, I gained a good insight into the place. And also made a new friend from a world away from mine!
4. Have Deeper Experiences
Have you had that moment when traveling where you walk away from the group and stood basking in the destination’s air for yourself selfishly? Ever sat at a historical spot alone and quit, letting your thoughts run through the past of its ruins?
This is my favorite among the benefits of traveling alone — connecting to a destination. Even the travel writer, Shivya Nath, elaborates on truly experiencing a place in her travel memoir — The Shooting Star.
Trips with friends sure are fun. Only, it turns to be more of a vacation rather than travel. It’s the less talk and more introspecting is that makes solo travel irresistible.
5. Step out of the Comfort zone
This is no doubt the most heard-of benefit when it comes to solo travel or travel in general. Sure, it’s cliche but it’s very true. There’s no way I can drop it out of this list of benefits of traveling alone. Living in Bangalore, I’ve myself been in a comfort bubble for a long.
When you travel solo, every aspect of your living comes to your head. As most solo travelers are young, stepping out of the luxury of your homes is no small feat. Being with my family all my life, I never worried about money, responsibility, or even interacting while purchasing something locally. I never had to.
Traveling alone for the first time from India to Indonesia is when I learned the responsibility of it.
Stepping out of your comfort zone with solo travel:
- Interacting with various locals when finding directions, accommodation, and restaurants.
- Tracking your expenditure along the way
- Keeping a check on your travel document
- Making sure your travel bags are safe at all times
- And keep your phone charged!
6. Explore your Mind, Interests, and Perspectives
Some people travel to visit a specific spot, some travel simply for the joy of it, others travel to learn about themselves. But I’d argue any person traveling solo is bound to find more about oneself.
It could be gaining a perspective over something or even finding a whole new area of interest. I’ve learned things I never expected of myself on my travel. Some things are small as finding out that I’m very patient with decisions, no matter what the situation is, and also get cranky without an early breakfast.
I’ve always read about how travel is not just drinking coffee on a hill station, it’s understanding a whole another culture and its people. But when I traveled, it’s the small things I found out for myself. The biggest one is to always be more of a listener — listen to their stories.
7. Traveling Alone is cheaper
Most people say that solo travel is expensive. Well, travel itself is a luxury — no matter how many hurdles one faces on a trip. Paying for stays, eating out, transport charges — all of it is a traveler’s privilege, be it group travel or solo.
Still, I’d argue that solo travel is actually cheap. The only thing that does get expensive is accommodation. But today with sites like HostelWorld for dormitory stays and Airbnb, that problem’s been solved too.
HostelWorld even has separate sections for women’s accommodations when it comes to safety issues on travel.
For those really looking to travel solo on budget, here are some things to consider:
- Wherever you travel, locals of that place don’t spend as much as you there. Fit in with the locals.
- Go for public transport routes and try local delicacies (that usually don’t cost much).
- Avoid coffee or tea in the morning (or anytime). Trust me, it saves a lot over time. Unless it’s the destination’s specialty, avoid it.
- Go for vegetarian food. Especially when traveling in India, not only does it cost less but it keeps you active and light for travel. I’ve eaten chicken for a whole week when visiting Andhra Pradesh and Chennai — only to feel lazy and inactive after every meal.
8. You Become Versatile to Changes
Traveling and getting those Instagram-worthy pictures by the beach sunset does seem like a dream, but they come at a great cost.
Unless you have a large budget trip, there are always hurdles a solo traveler comes across. Be it bearing loud snores at night in a dorm room, squeezing in a packed bus to save money, or even handwashing your clothes in a suffocating bathroom.
While this is another downside to solo travel to most, I can’t help but see its boons after going through it all.
I’ve traveled 12 hours on a train (Chirala, Andhra Pradesh), had a whole watermelon for breakfast, lived isolated on a forted green campus for 4 months, cut my own hair, and haven’t taken a single medication pill at any point — all in half a year.
It’s a guilty pleasure to be adaptable to any environment. The power, the independence, all of it.
9. Enhance your Time Management skills
This applies to most budget solo travelers. Not just time management on a solo trip, but solo travel actually helps in building a better daily routine in general.
Any experienced traveler knows that the best ways to manage time:
- Go for early mornings to avoid rush hours
- Check out of the room early and begin traveling.
- Travel on weekdays
- Pack less to avoid hustle when packing and taking essentials out — keeping everything handy
- Plan out your day’s itinerary beforehand
- Save the warm vibes (like local dinner spots, shows, street shopping) for the evenings when the locals
To those who work while traveling, keep it for the sunny afternoons. Tour the city in the mornings and evenings. Ultimately, you learn way more about managing your time only during solo travel.
A huge downside to group travel is the very fact that it takes a longer time to move. There’s always a wait when it comes to taking turns to bathe, brush your teeth, and dress up. Even packing takes a long time here.
So test the waters and try traveling solo the next time and see how you use time efficiently.
Disadvantages of Traveling Alone: Reality Check
There’s plenty of content out there on the benefits of traveling alone. There’s equally enough content pointing out its downsides.
Some people find it liberating, others find it torture to eat alone. The very benefits of traveling alone I mentioned can be cons to someone. Here are some disadvantages of traveling alone:
- Safety issue — Solo travelers can be a great target for theft, after all, you’re all on your own. Also, traveling alone for women in many countries including India is still considered unsafe.
- Carrying your bags everywhere! — Unless you have the knack of trusting strangers with your bags, solo travelers have to take their baggage everywhere they go — the reception counters, long queues, even the dreaded public washrooms.
- People get lonely. People do find eating and traveling by themselves lonely. But not all. Being a bit of an introvert myself, I love eating alone. In fact, I’d actually pick it over people I know!
- You’ll have to take pictures on your own. Especially when going down an offbeat path or a wild trek, you have no choice but to take pictures of yourself on your own. You can use the tripod but it’s still a hustle.
- Solo travel can get expensive. Indeed there are cheap dormitory hostels and public transport, but all places? Most towns in India are efficient with autorickshaws where you’ll have to pay all by yourself. Also, not all places have dormitory accommodation.
Benefits of Traveling Solo — Tailpiece
With all pros and cons of solo travel, this sums up my piece on the benefits of traveling alone.
Some prefer traveling with their friends, some love long group bike rides, others love solo travel. There’s no way to push someone to go for it. After all, solo travel is just isn’t for everyone. But it’s worth a try ;)