The Pros and Cons of Solo Travel

Written by
Jason Barnette
Posted on
August 15th, 2016
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I never wanted a life of solo travel, but that’s exactly what I got. Friends are jealous and envious of my traveling lifestyle. But every once in a while a crack appears in the perfect facade. A life of solo travel is not all it appears to be, but it’s also certainly far from horrible. There are lot of pros and cons, and by the end of the day they balance out to make this an exciting career. Here are a few of those pros and cons to give you an idea of what solo travel is like.

Absolute Freedom

Pro: Having the absolute freedom to go where you want, when you want, and without the need to consult anyone else is actually quite a lot of fun. The ability to be spontaneous is also valuable and frequently necessary with a career of travel writing and photography. Being able to check out of a hotel in one state and check in at a hotel six hundred miles away at the drop of a hat can certainly keep life interesting, entertaining, and help you get the job done.

Con: But having absolute freedom to go anywhere you want can also lead to indecision and boredom. Sure, it’s great to be able to make your own decisions and travel where you want, but then you are only traveling where you want. That seriously limits the scope of travel destinations and can actually harm your writing style and photography opportunity. Having a travel partner would give you another perspective, and it’s nice every once in a while to let someone else make the travel decisions.

Safety

Pro: You may think traveling solo would always be a safety risk, but it can actually be a benefit. A single person can more easily slip through a crowd, retreat out of a dark alley, and get out of harms way than two or more people. You don’t have to worry about another person keeping up or getting separated with the worst should happen.

Con: There is no doubt about it: traveling solo is dangerous. Even if you have the ability to quickly get out of trouble, it’s always safer in numbers. A travel partner gives you a second pair of eyes to look out for trouble, and can give you a break from time to time. Do you know how annoying it is to be working on photos at a coffee shop but every time you need to use the restroom you have to pack everything up and take it with you, only to return a few minutes later to the same table and unpack again?

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

I spent this day at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland with an old friend and her family.

Making New Friends

Pro: Sometimes it’s easier to make new friends when you have the absolute freedom to do anything and go anywhere at a moment’s notice. It’s also easier for strangers to focus solely on you and your personality if you travel solo, giving you a better chance they might decide you’re worthy.

Con: Some dynamics just don’t work well with making friends as a solo traveler. Coming across a couple or groups of couples would make you a third wheel at best, which can frequently be depressing. It is also entirely possible a group of strangers may be more open to your travel partner’s personality than your own, which would still give you some new friends but sort of through an intermediary.

Responsibility

Pro: Solo travel certainly forces you to become a responsible person. Everything from booking hotels and flights to rental cars, making reservations for adventures and tours, and keeping all the bills paid have to be done yourself. At least that way you know they are done.

Con: Of course the downside is that you have to do all this yourself, and that can frequently become overwhelming and burdensome. It’s difficult to have a life of constant travel while still having to take care of the nitty gritty yourself. Having a travel partner who could share in those responsibilities would be nice sometimes.

Cost Effectiveness

Pro: In a way, traveling solo is cheaper than traveling with a partner or a group. A lot of expenses can be cut in half when you’re only paying for yourself: meals, tours, museums, and outdoor adventures to name a few. Keeping the costs down allows you to travel more.

Con: On the other hand, some expenses are almost the same for two or more as they are for one. Hotel rooms and rental properties would cost the same, as would a rental car. Most cruises charge per person, so if you book a cabin just for yourself you actually pay double the listed price. Some utility bills such as paying for internet and phone service can also be spit. Splitting up some of those costs can actually save you more money in the end than traveling solo.

Solitude

Pro: The life of solo travel is certainly filled with lots and lots of solitude, like it or not. The solitude allows for lots of time for personal reflection, or just enjoying the quietness of the early morning sunrise. It also gives you plenty of time to start mentally planning your next adventure, or coming up with a few lines for the next travel article. The solitude can become a tool that if used properly helps you become more productive.

Con: But sometimes all you really want is someone to talk with. A little bit of solitude is nice, especially while exploring a new destination or capturing stunning photos. But spending eight hours driving alone in a car can be downright boring. Sometimes it is just nice to have someone to use as a sounding board for your next travel destination or story, or maybe just someone to talk with that has nothing to do with travel at all.

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