Solo Travel Wasn’t For Me. Here’s Why (And What I Learned From It)
There's no need to knock travelling with the squad.
It’s no secret that solo travel is having a moment. Open any social media platform and you’re pretty much guaranteed to come across something referencing the magical and transformative nature of going it alone.
And, sure, it can be amazing if you do it for the right reasons, but there’s no need to knock travelling with the squad. It turns out, travelling solo wasn’t for me, so I’ve rounded up what I learned from the experience. Spoiler alert: hostels aren’t my favourite thing in the world.
#1 The Best Travel Memories Come From Shared Experiences
How many times have you turned to a friend or significant other and said, “Remember that time we did (insert activity here) in (insert country here)?” If you’re anything like me, you probably love to gush about your adventures, even long after you’ve returned home.
When you’re travelling solo, any activity that gets your adrenaline pumping or sight that takes your breath away is only experienced by you. Well, you and a lot of strangers. You can try explaining how it felt to your friends back home, but they may never be able to understand it like someone who was there with you.
These kinds of travel memories are only made through shared experiences and they’ll stay with you long after you’ve left your destination behind.
#2 I Like Being On My Own – Just Not All The Time
Okay, okay, I should tell you that, before I left on my solo travel extravaganza of a lifetime, I was pretty confident that I would be totally fine spending all my time on my own. I’m an introvert and I like nothing more than cuddling up in bed with a good book, so I was convinced solo travelling was going to be 100 per cent my jam.
I was wrong.
Turns out, I also really like having a chat – and not just the casual small talk you usually make while travelling on your own, but the kind of deep and meaningful you can only have with a travel companion you know really well.
By travelling alone, I learnt that hanging out on your own sometimes is amazing and something we all need to recharge our batteries, but doing it all the time? Not so much.
Unless you’re the kind of person who can make friends quickly and easily (in which case, please teach me your secrets), travelling solo means that you’re most likely going to get lonely and bored of your own company at some point, even if it is only temporarily.
#3 Hostels Aren’t For Everyone
Solo travel and hostels goes together like Vegemite and toast. Hostels serve a dual function for solo travellers: they’re cheap, so you’ll get to avoid the dreaded single traveller charge, and you’ll be thrown into a room with strangers, which means friendships are bound to happen.
It sounds like a win-win, right? Well yeah, except hostels mean you’ll never get time to yourself (like, never ever) and, because everyone staying in a hostel is in a state of constant movement, those friendships you’re cultivating could disappear when you or the other person moves on.
And once this has happened a few times, the idea of making more small talk and sleeping in a creaky AF bunk-bed are considerably less appealing.
#4 Travelling With Friends Forces You Out Of Your Comfort Zone
When you’re travelling solo, you get complete control over what you see and do. That freedom is intoxicating, but it also means – unless you’re incredibly self-aware – you’ll likely always gravitate to things you know you like doing.
If you’re travelling with other people, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do something because your friends or significant other want to. How do you know you don’t like something unless you do it?
Travelling with someone else forces you to get out of your interest comfort zone and try things you’d never think of doing otherwise. And we all know that’s where the real magic happens.
#5 You Can Be Independent Without Being Alone
Okay, this one might sound silly, but travelling solo taught me that true independence isn’t so much a state of being as a mindset. You don’t have to physically be on your own to be independent.
Instead, independence is all about being confident in the decisions you make, and you can do that while travelling with someone else. Take it from someone who’s been there: travelling solo isn’t automatically going to make you more confident. Instead, it might just make you appreciate your friends and family more than ever.
(Lead image: Steven Lewis)