Its always cool to have a friend who shares your interest in travelling and can be your company in your trips. At the same time, very often it occurs that there are no people at the moment to support you. This happened to me in 2010 when I went to India for 2 weeks trip alone. I just thought if I will be always waiting for someone to go with me I will never go anywhere. In the beginning it was a bit scary and I felt not confident, but after I changed my perception of the surrounding world a bit everything went fine and fun and not scary anymore. Solo travel has a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages, and this is what this article tells about. And to avoid any confusion Im not encouraging solo travel, Im just trying to show that if there is no other option you should still do it, you are going to enjoy anyway.
Do whatever you want!
I already have some experience of short trips with a group of people, and believe me, no matter how great your friendship is you cannot always win favour in the eyes of everybody, sad but true. There is always a majority and a minority will have to give in otherwise your trip will become unbearable and fun will leave place for arguments and aggravations. Even if there is the two of you there is already a chance of disagreement. People are different, but when you are alone you dont have to compromise with anyone. If you want to go to the museum you go, feel like staying home no problem, want a drink head to a pub, in melancholy mood stay indoors and read a book. No need to account for your actions if you decided to go to Bollywood movies instead of visiting Taj Mahal. You just do what you feel like doing without any guilt.
Of course, being alone in a foreign country might be scary in the beginning, but once you adjust and fight the unconfidence you are your own boss.
Meeting new people
Exactly! You will be always meeting other travellers on your way solo as you are or not. But they are not likely to approach and talk to you if you will be in a company of friends. In my 2-week-trip in India I made friends with Garret from the USA. There was a huge scolopendra on the wall in my room and there was no one who could help me deal with it. So I went to the room next door and knocked, there was a guy I could see in the window, he was reading a book. After that we had dinners and lunches together, went by bike to interesting places and made it to Rohtang pass by Royal Enfield, which is great because otherwise I would never go there. Dont be afraid to travel alone, I assure you will always meet soulmates!
My ex-colleage Julia was always afraid to go travelling on her own though she was always admired by East-Asian countries. To my great surprise last November she realized everything she had to realize, quit her job and went ahead. She was always surrounded by people locals or other travellers, made friends with a guy from Russia and now they are writing a blog together about their adventures its ok no problem. Trust me, its really no problem whatsoever, at all :)
Cheaper. Or not
On one hand its cheaper. For example, its easy to find a host at Couchsurfing when you are alone rather than when its two or more. On the other hand, couchsurfing not always work (for example in India its so-so) and you will spend more money for a room in a guest-house if you are alone because there are mainly doubles and the price for a single person is not much cheaper than that of a double. Another huge expense is food. In India, for example, portions are so big that can easily feed two people and sometimes even three.
Fall in love!
Im quite serious. A friend of mine, Pasha from Kiev, went to travel in Asia. We met in Delhi for a day or so, he told me he didnt want to stay in India for a long time and thus booked his tickets to Malaysia. After sometime in Facebook updates I saw he is still in India. Did you find your Indian love or what? Not Indian, but I did. Imagine! :) So now Pasha and his girlfriend from Spain are travelling together.
Maybe it is not that obvious, but solo travel allows to know yourself better and discover your capacities. Its a challenge that will show you whether you can bear down the obstacles and become a stronger personality. At home you can always find support of your friends or family, at home you always have an idea of a problem solution. In a foreign country you are one to one with another world, where no one knows who you are and doesnt really care about that. Overcoming difficulties in a team is easier, overcoming difficulties on your own a very valuable lesson and a school of life, if I can say like that.
Its safer than you think
If a common sense is not alien to you you will be fine. It all depends on where you go of course, but if you wont roam the dark streets with suspicious people in the night nothing bad is likely to happen. Dont do stupid things, keep an eye on your stuff and all will be OK.
Happiness is only real when shared
Its a disadvantage. When you stand in the Himalayan mountains full of emotions and cant share them with anyone its not an epic fail but close to that. Normally in such situation I call my mom and tell her that for example I am washing my legs in the Indian ocean right now and the waves are hugging my feet, whereas she keeps asking if Im alone and if not who is it with me, and if yes why am I alone, its dangerous :)
Some tips for solo-travellers:
Go to happening places and festivals
Stay at hostels and guest-houses
Keep a diary and a book to read
Keep away from romantic places
Smile to people and install an eye contact
Be careful and keep important stuff like passport and money with you
Be careful making friends
Dont roam in the night
If you are going to travel alone it doesnt mean you will be always by yourself. You are definitely to meet other people on your way! But if you will be waiting at home for somebody to accompany you you will definitely end up reading travel notes wrote by someone else and will never write your own. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Dont confuse this, dont be afraid and go ahead!