Do I go it alone? With a friend? As part of a group? This is a question of primary importance for your trip and will determine not only how your trip is structured, but much of your experiences along the way. Traveling solo results in a vastly different trip than one where you’re traveling with a friend or with a group of people, such as an organized tour. Here are a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision.
When you travel alone, you are completely free to do what you want. You’re the one making the decisions and determining your itinerary. While this may be more intimidating for some than working on these decisions with a partner, this is what helps build your self-confidence. You learn more about yourself by overcoming the hurdles that are natural on the road and getting into situations where you’re the one responsible for solving problems.
Just like any other social situation, a person alone is more easily approached than someone who’s part of a group. It will be easier to start a conversation with a fellow traveler or be approached by curious locals interested in meeting foreigners. When you’re part of a group, it is much easier to pay attention to the group instead of your surroundings, and much more intimidating for a local to approach.
Without anyone there to distract you, you’ll have more time to spend writing in a journal, reading a book, working on your photography or appreciating the culture you’ve chosen to explore. Self-contemplation is one of the enormous benefits of travel that can easily be lost when traveling with others.
Traveling alone doesn’t have to mean you’re always solo. Most people traveling by themselves tend to join groups along the way for sightseeing, food eating, or beer drinking. You might sign up for a group tour for a part of your trip, meet a group at the hostel, or go out for a drink with your couchsurfing host. An added benefit to traveling solo is that you’re in a position to meet other single travelers, and a travel romance is nothing to shake a stick at.
Travel With Others
Travel with a partner is not any better or worse than traveling solo, it’s just different. If this is your first trip, you’ll be heavily tempted to travel with someone else. There are two main reasons for this. First, travel to a new country can be intimidating and bringing a friend along so you can support each other through many new situations and encounters can be beneficial. Second, many people want to share their travel experiences with someone else, and who better than a good friend? There are also more practical benefits for traveling with a friend(s).
Travel is usually cheaper when done with a partner. Double rooms and taxis are where you’ll see the majority of this savings. Safety can also be a major concern. Having someone to watch your back and deal with emergency medical issues is a huge advantage to traveling with others.
There are, however, additional concerns to keep in mind when traveling with others. Constant, long-term travel can damage any relationship. New environments, disagreements and months of twenty-four hour contact can cause all sorts of problems. You’ll be compromising on where you want to go and what you want to do. Good luck to both of you if one of you manages to find romance.
Which direction to take?
Your goals, destination, personality and experience will help dictate what would be best for you. I highly recommend solo travel, even if it means splitting from your travel partner for a few weeks here and there on a longer trip. The exceptional rewards of traveling alone are plentiful and difficult to obtain any other way. How do you prefer to travel?