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Spoiler Alert: I frequently brag about the benefits of solo travel on this site. Truthfully, my opinion is that anyone (who has the means to do so) ought to travel alone at least once in their lives.
However, I still wanted to write an extensive post about solo travel for anyone who is on the fence or nervous about taking a trip alone. I know I was unsure on my first solo trip overseas.
I won’t lie to you either … a lot of travel bloggers and influencers tend to gloss over major concerns or downsides of solo travel. Solo travel is empowering! It’s life-changing! I would be such a different person without my travel experience. But not everything is perfect.
For more details, I’ve already referenced some of the general downsides of traveling but feel like you guys would appreciate even more information specific to solo travel.
I am always down for taking a trip all by myself, but at the same time, I know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows either.
Solo Travel Coaching
First and foremost, I wanted to share that I provide solo travel planning calls (especially for Europe) for anyone who is nervous about traveling overseas.
If you’re shy on the phone, I also provide email consultation services to help address your specific needs. I totally understand not even wants to sit on a Zoom call, haha.
At the end of the day, solo travel is such an individualized experience, so even though this post is long, I still understand that I might not address everything on your mind. Feel free to reach out to me. Seriously. I would love to help you.
30 Advantages and Disadvantages of Solo Travel
For this post, I managed to come up with lots of advantages and disadvantages of solo travel! More specifically, you’ll read about 15 pros and 15 cons to taking that first big independent trip.
Like I already said, it would be hard to figure out every single advantage and disadvantage since travel is different for each individual person.
Nonetheless, I hope this post helps you figure out whether or not solo travel is for you.
#1 Pro — You Are the Boss
Obviously, the top pro of solo travel is that you are the boss. Yup, you correctly read that. You don’t have to answer to anyone else about museums, restaurants, accommodation, tours, and more.
So, if you love having control, then a solo trip is absolutely perfect for you. You’re the master of your travel destiny.
#1 Con — Is It Safe to Travel Alone?
Personal safety and solo travel are linked together. While traveling alone can be safe, you’re at more risk alone rather than if you exploring with a large group surrounding you.
As an independent traveler, always stay aware of your surroundings and know the location of your nearest embassy in case of an emergency.
It’s also important to do your research. So, for example, if you’re planning to visit the USA, then do an extensive search for the best cities for solo travel in the United States and plan in advance for how to take care of yourself in case of an emergency.
#2 Pro — Sense of Empowerment
Traveling alone builds a lot of personal empowerment. Seriously, it’s very brave traveling the world without someone by your side. It’s an accomplishment that (good) friends and family will admire, and in short, you will end up respecting yourself, too.
As a traveler, I feel a lot more self-assured and I’m far less likely to belittle myself than I have in the past. Personal strength gained from solo traveling is an ability that you can’t slap a price tag on.
On the other hand, speaking of price …
#2 Con — Increased Cost of Travel
Ugh, no way around it. Solo travel is usually more expensive than traveling with a friend or partner.
Why? Well. You need to pay extra for accommodation, unless you’re okay with sleeping in hostel dorms or find a hotel with single occupancy rooms, as well as a single supplement for some guided tours.
Sure, you’re able to off-set the cost of solo travel by visiting cheaper destinations, but over all, you’ll still pay more money in comparison to groups who can easily split the costs. You just have to decide if the financial trade-offs are worth it or not.
#3 Pro — More Confidence at Home
Like empowerment, confidence is another gift of solo travel. I know that it’s much easier for me to strike up a conversation with strangers than in the past.
In addition, I also feel more confident visiting places alone, such as nearby New York City. Before I traveled, I would’ve been terrified at the thought of exploring New York City alone, but now, a quick weekend getaway is always on the table for me!
Don’t underestimate the amount of confidence that will blossom within you. Without a doubt, this is one of the best pros of solo travel.
#3 Con — You Become a Bit TOO Independent
On the flip side, solo travel might transform you into someone who has a bit too much independence.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel like independence is a good thing. However, I sometimes I have to remind myself that it is okay to open up to other people in my life, as well as rely on them for help. I don’t always need to face my problems with no one supporting me.
Sometimes too much independence is flat out unhealthy. Be mindful of balance.
#4 Pro — Meeting Amazing People
Do you want to make new friends overseas? Is one of your main goals to connect with other travelers or locals? Then go alone. Trust me, it’s far easier to meet other people traveling solo than if you’re traveling with a big group of friends.
Staying in hostels is always a great way to meet other people. However, I totally understand that hostels aren’t for everyone, especially as we get older and want more comfort on our adventures.
Still, I promise you’ll strike up a conversation with someone as a solo traveler, whether it’s a visitor at the same museum or the owner of your hotel. You might also opt to sign up for guided day tours and chat with other members of your group!
No doubt about it, one of the biggest advantages of traveling alone is forming new relationships.
#4 Con — Some Experiences Are Off Limits
Sadly, some experiences will be off limits to a solo traveler. You will especially encounter this if you’re booking a guided tour or day trip. On occasion, I will try to book a group or private tour, but the company will only accept reservations for two or more people.
Unfortunately, a lot of hospitality companies still believe travel is strictly limited to couples, families, and friends, so they cut out the solo traveler market entirely.
No point in fighting it. Just book with someone else.
#5 Pro – Eat As Much As You Want
Food is an essential travel experience. Another huge advantage of solo travel is ordering everything off the menu without judgement. Eat as much (or as little!) as you want!
I don’t know about you, but whenever I dine out with girlfriends, there’s always an underlying and subtle pressure to stick to healthier options and never finish your plate. I obviously don’t want to force feed anyone, but sometimes the subtle, “diet culture” based remarks are a real bummer.
As a solo traveler, though, you don’t need to pretend. Eat all the tapas (or don’t). Your food habits are no one else’s business on a solo trip.
#5 Con — Judgement from Well-Meaning People
Solo travel is still seen as a brave and daring adventure, especially in the United States where gap years aren’t as common. Obviously, people in your life are going to worry about you, which is understanding, but the bigger disadvantage are judgmental people.
You might hear comments, such as “enjoy travel when you’re young” or “your priorities will change when you’re married and have kids,” and while these words aren’t always intended to be mean, they can take the wind out of your sails.
Try to let any judgement roll off your back.
#6 Pro — Museums Are a Dream Alone
No question about it: I love visiting museums alone. Love, love, love it.
Without a doubt, my perfect day is exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC without anyone rushing me through the exhibits or complaining that I’m taking too long and that they’re hungry.
As a solo traveler, you can wander the best museums in the world at your own pace, taking in all the beauty and knowledge. At the same time, if you just want to see the masterpieces and leave, then you don’t need to worry about disappointing someone else.
#6 Con — Solo Travel Can Feel Lonely
Loneliness happens to even the most savvy solo travelers. It’s not a weaknesses, though. It’s just being human.
Sometimes, when you see a gorgeous sunset or an epic snow-capped mountain or a masterpiece in a museum, you understandably want someone else to share the experience with you.
Honestly, in these moments of loneliness, there’s nothing wrong with calling home to check in. And just know you’ll strike up a conversation eventually.
#7 Pro — Sweet, Sweet Bragging Rights
Traveling alone is brave. Sure, if you consume a lot of travel content on social media, you might feel like every single person takes solo trips to Thailand or Jordan or Bali, but honestly, this perception isn’t reality.
In the United State, it’s rare to take a Gap Year, and some stigma still exists around solo travel. You mention that you’re traveling alone, and some people will look at you in shock and horror, or audibly gasp about how “they could never do that!”
However, by exploring the world on your own terms, you’ll also gain quite a bit of respect. I don’t consider myself a brave person, but I’ll admit that the compliments about my courage are super nice.
#7 Con — Too Many Selfies to Handle
Ugh, solo travel means a lot of damn selfies. Honestly, if you like photos of yourself, then you’re either stuck with the selfies, or you will have to be extra brave and entrust other people to take pictures of you.
And I won’t lie to you. Photographs taken by strangers aren’t … necessarily the best. I swear, I gain at least twenty pounds when someone else takes my photo, and I don’t need that hit to my self-esteem on the trip of a lifetime, haha.
#8 Pro — An Opportunity for Self-Reflection
We’re all busy. Too busy. Work, school, families, friends, significant others, bills, hobbies. A lot demands our attention.
Yet solo travel gives us a rare opportunity to turn our attention inwards, on ourselves, and reflect about what is truly important in our lives. I’ve had a lot of realizations on solo trips, such as coming to terms with why a boyfriend wasn’t right for me, or the importance of not stressing so much about various jobs.
Self-reflection is a tremendous advantage of solo travel. It may even heal you.
#8 Con — Getting Lost and Scared
Ugh, so I know a lot of travelers like to brag about how “getting lost is part of the fun of travel,” but honestly, I’ve gotten lost alone, and depending on the situation, it feels downright terrifying rather than fun and adventurous.
Having two people navigate an unfamiliar city is far more reassuring than when the entire responsibility falls on your shoulders. As a solo traveler, make sure to study maps ahead of time to avoid wandering into an area that isn’t very safe. You only have yourself to depend on.
#9 Pro — Expanding Your Boundaries and Self-Growth
Solo travel encourages you to grow in ways that you never thought possible. For instance, I always found it hard to cope with a fear of flying, but as someone who loves to travel alone, I had to learn to rely on myself to board long-haul flights over the Atlantic Ocean.
I tolerate a lot more now than I have in the past. I don’t mean that I let people stomp all over my boundaries, but I feel more at ease even when things don’t go my way.
#9 Con — Occasional Jealousy
This is for all my single solo travelers. Sure, traveling alone opens doors to new relationships, but depending on where you pick, you might encounter jealous feelings.
Some destinations are just more suited for couples. I know I was fine in Venice, for instance, but at the same time, if couples on every street will depress you, then I’d probably pick a less romantic city in Italy to explore.
Also exercise caution if you’re nursing a broken heart. Solo travel opens the door for jealousy if you’re traveling to recover from a break up. Trust me. I would know.
#10 Pro — Shamelessly Practice Your Photography
I know what you’re thinking. Huh? What’s the big deal? Can’t you practice photography traveling with friends or a partner?
I don’t know about you, but I take a lot of pictures. Sometimes multiple pictures of the same building or viewpoint, haha. When I focus so intensely on photography, I know I annoy other people, especially if we have a busy day ahead.
As a solo traveler, you’re welcome to take fifty pictures of the same building. Have fun.
#10 Con — The Dreaded Table for One
Ugh, for the longest time, I had a huge fear of eating alone in public on my travels.
Honestly, I’m still not a huge fan of solo dining, and always worry if people are judging me in fancier restaurants. I obviously don’t care as much at a casual diner or a quick and rustic sandwich joint, but put me alone in a place with white table clothes and a bunch of couples, and just … no thank you!
I’m still working through my anxiety of solo dining, like I said, and I’ll always opt to sit at a bar rather than a table to “blend into the crowd” when I’m traveling alone.
#11 Pro — You Can Change the Itinerary
Itineraries are far for flexible for solo travelers. You don’t need to consider anyone else’s opinions except your own. So, if you fall in love with Lisbon or Copenhagen, you are able to add a few more days, or even a week, without having to consult anyone else.
Of course, itineraries are more rigid during high season, such as December for Germany and the Christmas Markets, but for the most part, you won’t have any issues changing hotels and flights if you feel compelled to do so.
You are the boss!
#11 Con — The Language Barrier
Language barriers are a pain. I mean, sure, practicing French or Spanish is wonderful, and I appreciate the beauty of languages. I truly do.
However, if you’re a solo traveler with an emergency on your hands, the language barriers are stressful. Not to mention, in those moments of loneliness, being surrounded by another language will only emphasize your isolation.
Of course, I would never in a million years demand that everyone speaks English, and you shouldn’t either. Language barriers are a disadvantage of solo travel, but you need to take them in stride.
#12 Pro — You Transform Into an Expert Problem Solver
Since you’re relying on yourself to get from Point A to Point B, your critical thinking skills will shine. They have to shine.
Is problem solving stressful and not always fun? Sometimes, but by navigating a challenging situation overseas, you’ll be even more competent at addressing difficulties at home. I mean, if you can solve a problem in a city where you don’t know the language, then you should feel extra confident addressing mishaps at home.
#12 Con — Constantly Watching Your Belongings
Honestly, while solo travel is safe for the most part, you’ll need to take extra care of your belongings. For example, skilled and devious pick pockets and other scammers might think solo travelers are easier “prey”. Don’t feel paranoid, but always keep a close eye on your bags and wallet.
Personally, I always keep my passport and a spare credit card locked in the hotel safe for peace of mind. That way, if I am pick pocketed on the streets, I won’t feel as if I’ve lost everything.
Watching your belongings isn’t always related to theft either. In the airport, solo travelers have the annoyance of lugging their bags into the bathroom stalls instead of asking friends or family.
#13 Pro — You Learn So Much About the World
Going to new places expands your mind. It’s especially important now to go to different countries and connect with people to learn about their histories, lives, and cultures. Travel provides an outstanding education.
I feel SO lucky to have taken historical walking tours around the world, as well as cultural tours and visits to countless museums. I’m so much more tolerant and willing to learn now that I’ve traveled solo to over twenty countries.
Solo travel will give you the best education ever. Don’t underestimate it.
#13 Con — Solo Travel is Harder if You’re Anxious
I think a lot of great destinations for anxious solo travelers exist. You shouldn’t ever, ever give up your dreams of travel if you have anxiety. Not going to lie, though, anxiety will make your journey a little more difficult.
Don’t feel any shame about bringing medication (have your prescription and check local laws) on your travels, and if you’re traveling longterm, arrange tele-health with your therapist at home. Mental health is so important.
#14 Pro — It is Good for Your Well-Being
I hate routine. Sure, the daily grind is inescapable most of the time, but when all my days blur together, I can’t help but feel depressed and trapped. Travel breaks up routines.
Solo travel will help you feel better if you’re “stuck in a rut” at home and work. Just changing one’s surroundings does so much to improve mental health. Breathe the fresh air in the Swiss alps. Admire the art in Venice. Sip wine in Barcelona. You’ll feel awesome!
#14 Con — Potential Unwanted Attention
Ugh, sometimes a single person draws unwanted attention. This is a risk we all take as solo travelers. For instance, as a solo female traveler in Italy, I’ve dealt with men yelling “Bella!” or similar in the streets, which I just ignore, but it’s still frustrating.
However, the unwanted attention can also be dangerous. A solo traveler is appealing to pickpockets and scammers with their eyes on your money. Once I took a walking tour of Pigalle and Montmartre in Paris, and as my guide spoke to us, I noticed scammers targeting single men.
You’ll need to take extra good care of yourself as a solo traveler. Perhaps this means limiting alcohol or not exploring certain neighborhoods at night. Better safe than sorry.
#15 Pro — Embrace the Power of the Unknown
I like that solo travel forces you to embrace the unknown. Travel doesn’t follow a plan. Surprises blossom in even the most rigid itineraries.
By traveling alone, you’re opening yourself to new possibilities that you never would have experienced staying home. These magical memories make the greatest souvenirs of all time.
#15 Con — Reassuring People at Home
Concerned family and friends will express their opinions about your solo trips. Honestly, if you have healthy relationships with these people, then their concerns aren’t coming from a place of malice. No one wants to “rain on your parade” and sabotage your trips.
Do what you can to ease worries. Share your itinerary. Text a couple of times a day. Answer questions. Show compassion.
Is Solo Travel the Right Choice for You?
As you can see, there are many advantages and disadvantages of solo travel. You’ll have to think about both of them, and decide whether hitting the road solo is right for you. Some people just cannot travel alone, and that’s perfectly fine! No shame in it.
But, like I said in the beginning, I think the advantages of solo travel outweigh all the negatives. Solo travel has transformed me into a better person, and I know you’ll have a blast on your first solo trip. You can do this! I promise!
I hope you liked reading about all the advantages and disadvantages of solo travel! And, again, feel free to reach out for one of my solo travel coaching consultations if you want more help planning your adventures.