Why I’ll Always Prefer Solo Travel

For someone who has an entire blog dedicated to her love of solo travel, it seems strange that I have never actually written about why I love solo travel as much as I do.

2016 has been an interesting year in travel for me. I have had several solo trips, but I have also mixed things up a little and gone on a few not so solo trips too. As much as I have loved travelling with friends, doing so has really helped to reiterate why for me, solo travel will always best.

More Freedom

This is quite possibly my number one reason for preferring solo travel. There are no ifs, buts or maybes about it – when travelling solo you will have more freedom.

When you get up each day, you get to decide absolutely everything. If you want to get up at 5am and watch the sunrise – you can. If you want to sleep in until 11am just because – you can. If you want to eat gelato for the seventh time that day – nobody is there to judge you. If you want to go to that strange little niche museum – you won’t have to drag along a travel buddy who is obviously not enjoying it at all. If you end up loving a city – you have the freedom to alter your plans and stay longer without having to negotiate with another person.

Travelling alone means that you never have to compromise. You get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to negotiate, you don’t have to settle, you just get to be, and honestly, there isn’t anything much better than that.

Kloofing (canyoning) in South Africa!
Kloofing (canyoning) in Wilderness, South Africa!

Less Stress

When you travel with friends, unless you two share the exact same thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes, it is inevitable that at some point you will both have to compromise. It may be that you really want to go to an exhibition or it may be that you absolutely do not want to go to the Harry Potter Museum that your travel buddy is dying to see – at some point you will either miss out on doing what you want to do, be dragged along to something that doesn’t interest you, or get to go do what you want but have to be the one lugging along your disinterested friend.

The latter absolutely sucks. On one hand, you should be happy because you get to do whatever it is that you were so excited about, but in reailty, the whole ordeal has the potential to cause you a lot of stress.

When I am travelling with other people, I become hyper-aware of how they are feeling. So if I have brought my travel buddy to a destination that I am super excited about, my own feelings of excitement get squashed a bit, because I start worrying about whether or not they are enjoying the experience as much as I am. If they aren’t loving it, it seriously limits how much I can enjoy it also.

My stress levels are always higher when I am with another person (or people) and as such, I never enjoy non-solo trips as much as I enjoy my independent adventures.

More New Friends

When you travel in the comfort of a duo or a group, you have a wonderfully pre-made group of friends. This may sound convenient, easy and comfortable – which I am sure it can be. But if you feel nice and comfortable in a duo/group, chances are you are gonna stick to that group/person like glue and forgoe trying to make new friends.

This is definitely not always the case, but for the most part, solo travellers will put themselves out there and go out of their way to meet new people far more than their non-solo traveller counterparts.

I adore my friends at home, but part of the appeal of going somewhere foreign is to completely immerse myself in everything new – including people.

cape-town-bo-kaap-south-africa
New Dutch friends in Cape Town!

More Locals

As I mentioned above, being alone is often synonymous with being far more open to meeting new people. But this is not just limited to meeting other travellers.

Going it alone also means you are more likely to meet and befriend locals – which is amazing! There is nothing better than hanging with local people to help you get fully immersed in a new culture, to share all the hidden local gems and to really let you get a true taste of the place.

Less Money

While in some places travelling with others can have significant financial benefits (anywhere where hostel and/or couchsurfing options are limited) for the most part, travelling alone will cost you less.

It is far easier to stick to a budget when you are the only person you have to consider. You don’t end up spending money on things you aren’t that keen on. You spend less on eating out because solo travellers are way more likely to choose cheap street food over a traditional sit down restaurant meal.

There is a huge sense of community amongst solo travellers, which leads to a tonne of sharing and swapping of items, currencies and foods that we no longer need – which can also save moolah.

Bali, Indonesia
Temple exploring on a budget in Bali, Indonesia

Less Conflict

Travelling with someone is a sure-fire way to put that friendship to the test. Being around the same person 24/7 with little relief can be incredibly trying. Fights, conflict and resentment are more than likely to ensue!

If you are lucky enough to have found a travel buddy with whom you can happily spend extended periods of time – you are one of the lucky ones. For most people, travelling in duos or in small groups will inevitably lead to drama that a solo traveller can completely avoid.

More Anonymity

Ever just wanted to dissolve into a new environment? Travelling alone allows you to completely fall off the radar. You get to choose how and when you interact with people, you get to choose what you share with others, you choose what you want to reveal about yourself and how you want to portray yourself.

Travelling alone lets you be who you want to be, without anybody having any preconceived notions about your personality or who you are as a person. It’s a rather liberating experience.

iceland-askja-holuhraun-lava-
Having a geothermal hot spring in the Icelandic Highlands all to myself!

There are endless reasons why I prefer travelling independently – this is just a little handful – but I feel like this gives you the gist of it.

However, I would love to hear from you! To all my fellow solo travellers, what is the best part of travelling on your own?

Lastly, if you liked this post – please share it!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

129 thoughts on “Why I’ll Always Prefer Solo Travel

  1. I don’t know what to say other than SO TRUE!!! When I wrote my latest post about solo travel, it was all about advice. But this post about WHY is so informative as well. ESPECIALLY the less conflict point. Thank you so much!!!!

  2. I have spent 23 years traveling the world on business, so I am solo more than with someone. I do enjoy traveling with my wife, but we travel well together and don’t have many of the problems you address so well. However I really resist traveling with more people than that for all of the reasons you address. Good stuff

  3. Having done both, I agree. My last duo trip, a visit to Sitka, AK, in 2015,worked out very well because my young friend did her thing and I, mine, while getting together for only a few things of mutual interest-a mountain hike and a guided drive around Sitka’s periphery. All in all, though, I have traveled solo, very nicely, since 2011.

    1. I can’t read a map to save my life (my father will attest to this) but I haven’t let that stop me! I bet you would be far more capable than you give yourself credit for.

  4. I guess I am one of the lucky ones who found a mate and my best friend. Our travels together were amazing. I worked out of the house and we did see each other 24/7 for 20 years and she still put up with me. We seemed to agree on our destinations and sightseeing excursions and neither had to compromise too much. We always made lists separately with our must sees and would like to see if there is time. And 90% were on the must see of both and the rest were on one of our would like to see, so we were pretty compatible. Lucky I guess but that is what is making solo travel now hard for me, I like to have someone there to share the experience with. I’ll get over it the more I do it, just that it is hard. Your travels are an inspiration to me and I enjoy the reads. Keep having great adventures.

    1. It is so lovely to hear you talk about your late wife Terry, it is obvious that you two had a wonderful and loving relationship. I totally get that adjusting to a new way of travelling will be difficult, but if she is as wonderful as you describe (I have no doubts) I bet she would be happy to see you adjusting and continuing to explore. <3

  5. Such an interesting post Ellen! I totally agree with you. This also reminds me of my life now as a new bachelor, recently divorced. Freedom to do what you want. It’s great!! ❤️🌴

  6. Your energy amuses me.
    So wonderfully potrayed.

    I have had one solo travel at the start of this year and then go busy with stuff of life.

    I have been doing lot of other fun stuff alone though.

    There is a charm in travelling solo.
    Your enthusiasm is inspiring and mesmerizing.

    Do you plan and travel to places ?
    Since u travel alone, what special care you need to take in terms of backups and fallbacks?

    We all share good stories of travel, is there or are there any worst experiences of some places, which u can share so others don’t repeat it.

    Thanks.

    1. Yep, I plan everything myself and then go off on my own! I keep extra copies of insurance policies and passports and things, but other than that there isn’t much else a person can do except hope for the best!

      I shared a story earlier this year about getting assaulted in Dili – which you can find here:

      https://travellingtheworldsolo.com/2016/07/18/dili-a-dreadful-first-impression/

      Bad stuff can happen anywhere, at anytime, you just have to be prepared for anything.

  7. I totally agree. I find if I am with someone else I concentrate on them instead of what I came to experience. However, if you agree beforehand that you don’t have to do everything together, you can avoid one of the problems you list.

  8. Yes! This is why I love doing things by myself. Some of my friends get upset when I don’t invite them to do things… but honestly, sometimes you just want to have an experience alone that you simply can’t have if you’re with someone else. This is terrible, but I’m a stewardess and really haven’t used my travel privileges. Part of the reason is because I still live at home, and my mom is on them too. I feel like I HAVE to invite her to tag along even though I’d rather go at it alone. I would love to go somewhere and be my fabulous self without anyone that knows me. You uncover parts of yourself that you otherwise wouldn’t have know about, I think.

  9. Such a great read and explains exactly why it’s so great to travel solo!! I always travel alone and love the freedom of visiting everywhere you want and meeting such great people along the way. I wonder where is next for you!

  10. My main thing is definitely the fact you listed about being hyper-aware of the the feelings of others. I’ll be super super super excited to see something but then I get anxious about whether or not my companions are also enjoying it as much as me, which is more of a reflection on me really, but there we go! And sometimes I feel like I can immerse myself so much more in the experience when I’m alone, as that’s just how I prefer to spend my time (when traveling anyway). Can’t wait for my next solo adventure!

    1. Totally get that! It’s like when you show someone your favourite tv show or film and instead of watching the film you spend the entire time making sure they are also enjoying it. Not worth the stress to be honest!

  11. I’m a mixed bag on this one. I’ve loved the solo traveling experiences that I have had and definitely want to do it again–I tested myself in new ways, spent time with new people whom I probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to get to know if I was with a travel buddy, and got to do the things I wanted to do one my own time. That said, I also LOVE sharing experiences with people whom I know and love. When I traveled around Thailand with my parents last April, it was such a treat to show them the country I had grown to love while teaching abroad. While I did feel constricted in some ways because I was with them, I’m so thankful that I go to share that experience with them and wouldn’t change it for the world.

    1. I guess the old adage ‘different strokes for different folks’ comes into play. I have tried non solo travel quite a few times now, and each time it has been a bit less wonderful than I was hoping for, but this is something I cannot say about my solo travels.

  12. As a fellow solo traveler, I couldn’t agree more! I DO travel with another solo nomad now though. I do find comfort in having someone there who can help in a time of need, or to help decide where to go next. We go and do whatever we want to by ourselves and we work together, so for now, we need to be together. I consider now and then branching off and going solo. There have definitely been times when he’s saved my ass from being in BIG trouble with the RV! And, he fixes things, which is another bonus. Keep on traveling and enjoy the hell out of it!

  13. When I took my first trip I’d originally planned to travel with up to 4 other mates but then they split into pairs and I was caught in the middle. I never really fell in love with either of their plans and they kept trying to make me pick a side but then it occurred to me that I could just go on my own. So that’s what I did and never looked back!
    I managed to meet up with both pairs during the 6 month trip which was great, but neither meeting made me want to give up the freedom that I’d discovered whilst travelling solo.
    It just felt like there were so many more opportunities for me and that I was able to prove, to them and myself, that I didn’t need to rely on anyone else.

  14. I’m planning a trip in which I will have a few solo legs and then meet someone in a few other places. I am still in good enough health to go to the more rustic places, and there are places that I want to go that others have no desire to see. However, I’m still a little hesitant to be alone in strange places for too long, so we will see how it goes. You are an inspiration, however, and I feel a lot better about seeing places that I want to see without worrying about others.

    1. Trust me when I say this: you are more capable than you give yourself credit for. You will be absolutely fine on your own – I bet you will even thrive!

      1. Thank you for your reply. I always look forward to your posts. I am looking to go RTW when I retire, with Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Angkor Wat biggest on my list, but also a stop in every continent (except Antarctica, which you make look inviting).

  15. Agree with all the points, especially with the stress and have to consider other feelings. I have been solo travel since 2006 and never regretted any of it. This year I have traveled with a good friend for three days to Ottawa, but we agreed that if we have any differences in our itinerary we just go about on our own, and she does not seem to mind, so we part for the day and come back for dinner, and switch stories. I was lucky to have that friend, but not all of my friends can do that. Thanks for this piece, that wholly demonstrate that solo travel is the most daring but right choice for some of us.

  16. I definitely like being solo when I am trying to really get into my photography. There is just no way I could feel relaxed and creative while worrying that I am boring the hell out of my companion while I sit staring at some rocks.

    I must say I really love your travel journals. Thanks for the writing and pictures. You are an amazing person.

    1. Oh man I totally get you there! It can take a lot of time (and some annoyingly unsociable hours) to get the right shot. It is certainly easier to do while one is alone!

  17. Your ideas are awesome and I can understand why you love it. I am 53 and feel much younger. When you travel to hostels and new places do you meet older female travelers or mainly 20-30 year olds? Any suggestions for traveling solo for middle aged folk like me?

    1. I’m sure Ellen will have something useful to say, but just wanted to mention that I’m 69 and just got back from a three and a half month trip. Aside from two weeks with a tour group in Uzbekistan it was all solo – UK, Istanbul, South Korea and Japan. So age is no bar, in fact if you visit the fodors.com Travel Tips forum you’ll find a long thread full of solo trip reports, many by older people.

      I dont typically stay in hostels because I don’t like sharing a bedroom (can handle bathrooms) but if you stay in B&Bs (very different in Europe than the US) or guesthouses or pensions you often meet people over breakfast. Walking tours or day tours are good for that too. But I am fine on my own.

    2. I have met quite a few older travellers on my many trips! I have often met people in their 40’s in hostels, and many people in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s staying in B&Bs, guesthouses and at hotel breakfasts!

      My Dad is in his 60s and he recently spent six months driving around Europe on his own – and he met heaps of people along the way. Age is no barrier!

  18. First of all nice shots and second of all you are absolutely right about solo travel thing because I also travel solo whenever it’s possible because in that way you can explore the place according to your way

  19. The majority of my travels are solo and this is by far my most preferred way. I’ve had some great holidays with friends and partners in the past but the compromises that inevitably occur can be a frustration. I think some people are good at compromising and others not, just like others thrive on constant company and others don’t. I know many people that won’t go anywhere without a companion to go with, whereas I won’t let that hold me back. The more I read your posts, the more similar traits I think we have.

    1. Likewise! I feel sorry for the people who feel like they can only travel with a companion – there are so many limitations that come with travelling in a group, solo travel is so freeing.

  20. It’s been a while since I’ve gone anywhere with family and somehow, I’ve managed to totally miss out the travelling with friends thing – we’ve never even done the “girls weekend away just down the road”, let alone the hen party in Prague/Ibiza/whatever so I have no idea what it’s like to travel with people I like. But I know what it’s like to travel with strangers of um… a different age demographic when I did a trip to Switzerland with a group of pensioners who found mountains boring, waterfalls too high, walking utterly unreasonable and car parks the ideal spot for a picnic. Never again – not even when I’m a pensioner. Solo travel is the way forward – I get stressed about whether the other person is enjoying themself, whether they’re judging me and whether this was a terrible idea just taking them to see a movie.

  21. This is a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing this.

    Many people are scared to travel alone but they don’t know how much better it is to go solo. I traveled with my folks and children and it’s a lot of compromises. Just as an example; I was in the LA County for at least 3 weeks, in and out, and I never got to go to the touristy places – no Universal Studios, no Hollywood, no Rodeo Drive. Best to go solo traveling while young. 🙂

    I’d love to re-blog this, if you don’t mind.

  22. Hi..
    I envy you 😜.. always get jealous whenever I read your blog. Well on the positive side your blogs help me to push my limit to the max while exploring😄.
    Also I have some hyper enthusiast buddies to go for a group trip too, like minded ppl go well and problem free in travels
    Waiting for more 😊

  23. Enjoying your alone time means that you are happy with yourself… that you are able to be introspective and look at the person you are. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Peace.

  24. This “at some point you will either miss out on doing what you want to do, be dragged along to something that doesn’t interest you, ” 😀

  25. I haven’t even started my solo travel adventures, but I so agree. I am 16 and my plan when I’m older is to travel and be a photographer. But if I may ask, how do I start? I always think about these things. How do I start traveling? Do I save up money?
    Amazing post and tips!!!

  26. I love solo travel as it is in these extended periods of time when I reflect on myself and wonder about the world. And it is in these extended periods of time when I write beautiful poetry!

  27. I have been traveling solo for seven years right now but I never been tired being solo traveler. The good thing for every country I visited , I enjoyed meeting a lot of people . Without the constraint or worry that Im neglecting someone . Sometimes it’s more fun and sometime it’s boring too .

  28. I also travel alone mostly, and I agree with this. But I have learned that hapiness (from travel) is real, when shared. It is even more amazing to travel with someone who shares your passions and who is as crazy as you.

      1. To be honest, I like both. So Ideally, I would like to alternate solo travels and travels with 1-2 best friends.

  29. I haven’t read this blog yet but I’m looking forward to it. I want to travel the world to so I enjoy currently living vicariously through you but this year (2017) I said I will get somewhere. So excited too.

  30. Reblogged this on I think, I say, I do and commented:
    Traveling, as it is, is an enjoyable experience. More importantly, it is great way to learn about the big wide world and its many people. I do believe that it also encourages us to grow.

    Now, traveling solo, while not for everyone, can be more rewarding than traveling in a group. Have you tried it?

    Why travel on your own, you might ask. Here’s why! And she sure knows what she’s talking about.

  31. I will be traveling to Iceland by myself in May, staying in a hostel and in an AirBnB. I’m really looking forward to it–I’ve done some solo travel in the past, and I’ve always found that I can see more and immerse myself more in the places I go without the distraction of a travel partner. Your points about freedom are really important, too.

    Great photo of you in the geothermal pool in the highlands! I hope to do something similar when I’m there! 🙂

  32. Wow this all is so true! And I definitely agree with the meeting into the culture factor. It makes a big difference! Love the blog and love this post 👌🏾

  33. Love travelling by myself, but sometimes there are places where it’s not that easy to juggle visas, transport, registrations etc. So if it’s on the main trail, I always try to travel solo for everything you’ve mentioned. But in somewhere like Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan, group travel

      1. Ah. Heads up, there’s about a 50% rejection rate on visas at the moment. Also, the government is VERY controlling – if by yourself you literally mean ‘backpacking’ (not that that’s really possibly, you really do need a truck to get through the country) alone, don’t rely on getting approved, even for LOIs. I met two people who didn’t even get their LOIs, got rejected even before applying for the visa. Another guy spent a few hundred on getting his LOI, and then had to wait 6 wks for his passport to get returned to him, only to be rejected for the visa, even with the LOI.

      2. But do let me know how it goes! Would be interesting to hear what is and isn’t possible, and has and hasn’t changed since I went last year. And apply for the visa and LOI as soon as you can, in case you need to re-apply. Tourist visa is more expensive, but generally has a better approval rate at the moment apparently

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