Pros And Cons Of Travelling Solo
Sometimes we find ourselves in a solitary place. Maybe we’ve burnt all the bridges, hit on all the platonic friends, or just plain realised that our group of chums are assholes who are holding us back, no matter the reason there comes a time in all of our lives when we’re alone, and by jove if that ain’t the best time to hit the road. Last week we went through how to navigate the pitfalls of group travel, so today we’re discussing the ins and outs of flying solo. Whether you wanna learn a language that little bit quicker, or just want to up your chances of hooking up with someone with a foreign accent, there’s something in here for you.
You expand your comfort zone: assuming you don’t lie in bed all
day night (on Stoke trips lying in bed all day is actively encouraged), you’ll inevitably be meeting more new people than you would’ve done staying at home (or if you’d travelled with a group of friends). If you’re a bit introverted then this is especially true — you have a ready made excuse for your lonesomeness, “I’m travelling”, the ultimate cheat code to street cred…
You improve your language skills: if you’re learning un petit peux de francais, or trying to brush up on your español then this process is going to be sped up massively by not having any friends. Seriously. If you travel or go on exchange with a bunch of friends it’s much tougher to force yourself to go out and make new ones than if you go solo and are spending your free time doing little more than watching the big bang theory repeats in the fetal position and crying. You can live somewhere for six months, but if you aren’t immersed in the culture you’re not going to reach that elusive little thing called fluency. Travelling alone helps you make the most of every little interaction — doing all your own shopping, not relying on more confident/fluent friends to order your food at restaurants, talking to the bus driver yourself etc etc.
You improve your social skills: even if six months (or however long) later you still don’t understand what the fuck the people around you are yapping on about, you will know what they mean instantaneously from context. This breakthrough in “body language reading” inevitably hits one day, at the supermarket, as you realise you just said yes to “do you need a bag” without actually understanding a single syllable uttered. You may also have a few Mr Bean moments where you have to explain something with the help of flailing limbs and/or interpretive dance.
You have the freedom to choose your trip’s exact itinerary (and to modify it whenever the fuck you want): whether you secretly want to visit the erotic wax museum in Barcelona, or get naked in a Swedish Sauna, you’ll have no complaints from your no.1 travel buddy — you. Bonus points if you rake the raunchy benefits of group travel, whilst maintaining the flexibility of solo travel with the new and improved Stoke Travel passport.
A great chance to improve how you cope with stressful situations: whether you went skinny dipping in Bali and came back to find your clothes and wallet gone, or you didn’t realise London and Paris are in different time zones and wound up missing your flight, travel is a surefire way to prepare yourself for the future (throw this at anyone who tells you it makes you less employable).
You have to organise everything yourself: if you don’t like opening incognito windows and spending hours going through Skyscanner, Booking.com, Hostelworld, Airbnb and Couchsurfing and Workaway then flying solo is going to be a bit of an effort.
Less of a safety net: sometimes it’s nice to have a travel buddy — someone you already know and don’t need to make much of an effort with to talk to/distract yourself when you feel homesick. The whole “expanding your comfort zone” thing mightn’t work if you go too extreme and are totally overwhelmed. Depending on your personality it could be best to travel with a couple of friends and just do little stints on your own to see how you go. It’s all well and good travelling solo to improve your confidence and self sufficiency, but if you spend the whole time wishing you were home already, on your hostel bunk looking at your mobile, it’s not going to do you much good.
Travelling solo can be more expensive: if you travel solo then you can’t rent apartments with a whole bunch of people and share the cost, or bulk buy food etc. Although on the flip side you have more options about where you stay as some Airbnb’s only take small numbers of people, and sometimes there’s a special deal for a single bed in a hostel dorm, which obviously you would have to pass up if you were trying to find something for a group.
So these are what we think are the pro’s and con’s of travelling solo. Do you agree? Can you relate? Or did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.