I share the worst parts of solo travel, because it ain't always rainbows & unicorns honey.
Everyone raves about solo travel these days, myself included. I’ll be the first to admit that solo travelers make it seem like it’s all a walk in the park.
We go on & on about the fact that we can sleep in all day if we truly want and stuff our faces without anyone judging us.
We don’t have to deal with others’ moods and attitudes.
We don’t have to wait around for people who say they’ll join us “one day”.
And it’s true, solo travel definitely has its perks. It has the potential to make you more independent, confident, and resilient. It’s the ultimate form of freedom, but as one of those people that champion solo travel, I must admit that it’s not all unicorns & butterflies. Solo travel has its fair share of challenges and I think they’re worth mentioning.
1. MISSING OUT ON NIGHTLIFE
I’m not a rager, but your girl loves a good night out. Most cities transform and come alive in the nighttime, so I love to witness that shift. When I’m in Cuba, I wanna salsa dance until 4 am. When I’m in Berlin, I wanna dance at underground DJ sets till dawn. Some of my best travel experiences have occurred at night. I love a good salsa bar and DJ lineup, but it’s easy to miss out on the nightlife when you’re alone. I have no issue eating alone, but I feel quite uncomfortable going out alone. Then, there’s the safety issue.
Take a day trip to meet people that you can later go out with at night.
Stay at a hostel to make friends
Join a pub crawl or night event
2. YOUR BAGS FOLLOW YOU EVERYWHERE
Your bags become your best friend or frenemy, in other words. They’ll join you in the bathroom and on the beach. There’s nothing like holding up a grocery store line as you fumble through three different bags. What about squeezing into a bathroom stall that’s the size of a crackerbox while you perform aerobics to make sure your bags don’t hit the dirty floor? Been there, done that. You must always consider where to put your bags while you go here or there because there is nobody to guard them.
SOLUTION: There's no way around this one, but packing light eases the load!
3. NO SPLITTING COSTS
That taxi would be 1/4 of the price if you had 3 other friends with you. That private Airbnb room with 2 beds would be ½ the cost if only you had another person was tagging alone. There are just some things that would be cheaper if you had someone else to split them with, but as a solo traveler, you’ve gotta eat all of the costs.
To lower costs, you can book hostels or the private room option on Airbnb.
Join a tour group to avoid double occupancy costs
Use the 'uber pool' option or take public transportation
4. SELFIES ON SELFIES
In my opinion, especially as a blogger, this is one of the worst aspects of solo travel. I know, how vain? I'll admit that my best travel moments can’t be captured, but I’d still like a bomb photo of myself every now & then. I refuse to be that tourist knocking people in the face with my selfie-stick and I’m way too self-conscious to set up a tripod in front of the Colosseum. I love setting up shots in beautiful scenery, so when I’m traveling alone the struggle is real. For now, I just ask whoever’s around. It’s a win-win if it’s another solo traveler. I’ve gotten pretty good at setting up shots in my head & picking out the perfect stranger to ask. Nobody has run off with my phone just yet, so I think I’m doing pretty well. There are still plenty of places I leave without getting a good photo of myself, but I just take my landscape shots and remind myself that I’m not there for photos. It actually saves me from spending hours trying to get that “perfect shot”.
Get comfortable with asking strangers
Buy a tripod or selfie stick
Get used to the idea that you may not have all of the pictures you'd like. Remember that the best travel experiences can't be captured anyway.
5. NOBODY UNDERSTANDS
Why on earth would you WANT to travel solo? Don’t you have friends? Are you hiding a sugar daddy behind the scenes? Isn’t it boring and lonely and dangerous? People in your life may not get it. They’ll probably think you’re some weirdo who couldn’t convince your friends to join you. It’ll be hard for them to believe that you chose to travel alone and you actually enjoy it. You’ll get over that though. The hard part is returning. You’ll experience so much that you’ll want to shout it out at the top of your lungs to everyone you know. There are endless experiences and encounters from my solo adventures that I’ve never shared with anyone simply because it’s too much for another person to keep up with. It’s like trying to catch up with your high school best friend after your first semester away at college. Where do you even start? The worst part? You’ve got a cap on how many times you can say “that one solo trip” or "that one time in *insert foreign country*" before you start to annoy the people around you.
Thank God I have this blog ;)
Talk to other girls who travel solo and read blogs to understand that this is becoming more common every day and remind yourself that you don't need external validation for your choices.
Join Facebook groups for supportive, like-minded travelers. Try Girls Love Travel and Solo Female Traveler Network
When it comes to solo travel, the good far outweighs the bad. It's the reason I keep going. However, it's also important to remember even the best things in life will come with downsides. In the grand scheme of things, these aren't actual 'problems', so I'm just grateful for the privilege to see the world. It's up to you to decide if it's worth it!