Guest post created by Scott Friesen from the Tiptoe Travels blog.
People often ask if I prefer to travel alone or in groups. This is really a tough question and to be honest, I can’t answer it. I like doing both. For my ideal travel, I set off travelling on my own, and then make friends and travel with them. Then go off on my own again, rinse and repeat. With that being said, most of my travel is on my own. Thus, here are the 5 lessons I learned through solo travel.
You Can Do Whatever You Like
When you travel in groups, planning gets increasingly complicated as you add members. The beauty of traveling alone is you only have to argue with yourself. Eat out or cook at the hostel? You will only have to debate with your inner dialogue. Travel in groups of two or more, and the simplest things, such as what to eat, can become an hour-long discussion or worse, tear apart friendships. (Seriously though, I’ve seen it happen). If it is just you, decisions are generally much quicker.
If Something Goes Wrong, It is on You
Just like you don’t have someone to agree on travel plans with, you also don’t have someone to blame if things go wrong. Miss a flight? It’s your fault. Leave your valuables on a bus? That’s on you too. Unfortunately, you don’t have a group looking out for you. Mistakes will happen, traveling won’t be perfect. You’ll learn to take ownership when things don’t go as planned. You’ll also probably get very comfortable with asking strangers to take photos of you or bring your selfie game to an all new level.
You Do Not Need Much to be Happy
Thirdly on my list of 5 lessons I learned through solo travel is to travel light. If you are going to be backpacking for an extended period of time, packing light is key. That may be one of the most important backpacking travel tips I can offer. If you are able to compact everything you need into a carry on and personal item, you are not only going to save money, you will be more comfortable. You will quickly realize what items are essential, and what you have yet to even use. If you are like most backpackers, you will embrace a minimalist lifestyle, and love it.
You Are Probably Not as Interesting as You Think, and Everyone Needs Human Connection
Not trying to put anyone down here, but this was a realization that happened to me. Years ago, I was doing a four-month trip through Europe after studying in Spain. Towards the end of the trip I told a girl I was just finishing up 4 months of solo travel. She responded with, “You must be a pretty interesting guy to do solo travel for so long, I would never want to spend that much time just with myself.” I thought about what she said, and to be honest, she was wrong. Sure, I find ways to occupy my time. But I don’t want to spend extended periods of time alone. When you travel alone, you find yourself reaching out to people all the time. Imagine going days without having a conversation with anyone? Can you even remember the last time you went a day without speaking to someone? You learn how to break the ice and make friends pretty quick. And if not, well you better be pretty interesting.
You Appreciate All of the Friendships You Have Made
When I do solo travel I often find myself thinking about the ones closest to me. You see an amazing sight, or do an invigorating activity, and you are hit with a feeling of how great it would be to share this moment. I feel this is quite normal when you travel alone. Moments can mean a lot more if they are shared. This may be the biggest downside of them all with solo travel. However, it makes you appreciate those special people in your lives. Don’t forget to reach out to them while you’re traveling and let them know you’re thinking about them.
Balance is the Key to Long Term Happy Travel
In the end, I think the most enjoyable form of travel is having a combination of solo and group travel. Take time to travel alone. Learn to be independent, become comfortable with yourself, and force yourself to try new things. But also take time to travel with friends when you can. Go on that weekend getaway with the random German couple you met at your hostel in Brazil. Or try to convince a good friend to come abroad with you. In the end, make sure you experience solo travel at least a few times in your life. After that you can decide what type of travel you prefer, solo or in group.
Hope you enjoyed these 5 lessons I learned through solo travel. Comment your thoughts below. Safe Travels.
Author: Scott Friesen of Tiptoe Travels blog.