Although I love traveling solo and wouldn’t have it any other way (you can read why here), I do concede that there are cons to solo travel. From my experience, here are the 6 biggest cons to traveling alone.
- Not being able to try a lot of food
- Split expenses
- Look after your own things
- Can’t share experiences
- No wing man
- No spares
I can honestly the thing that brings me the greatest joy from traveling is the opportunity to eat local cuisine. I love stuffing myself and trying everything in sight. I don’t care what it is, I just know I have to try it. However, as a solo traveler, I end up either wasting a lot of food or not being able to try everything I want. Neither is a good option.
I usually end up buying 3 or 4 things while I’m at a street market or food stall. I figure no one is really going to know if all the food is just for me or not. However, I usually end up taking a few bites and then putting the rest in my backpack with the intent of eating it later as a snack of for dinner. However, by the time I’m hungry, I’m usually in another location with other food temptations so the food goes to waste.
However, if I’m at a restaurant and eating by myself, I’ll typically order like a normal person and just get one dish. That just pains me to no end because there are usually a number of dishes I want to try while I’m there but I also realize I need to move forward and try different eateries during my limited time there.
I know, this is a first world problem. But I genuinely love trying local cuisine and any opportunity where I don’t take advantage seems like a wasted opportunity to me.
Not being able to split the expenses
Every solo traveler has had to deal with it. Do you stay in hostels , couch surf, or stay in a possible dodgy part of town for cheap? Or do you suck it up and pay for a hotel? Of course hotels are more expensive but you do have your own space and generally your things will be safer. But that comfort and safety comes at a cost.
Being able to split your expenses is huge. It’s just like living with roommates in college. And since airfare and accommodation are the 2 biggest expenses to any travel, it goes without saying that being able to cut the costs in half really saves a lot of money. Another way of looking at it is you can stay twice as long on the same amount of money since you can view the hotel situation as buy one night get one night free type of scenario.
Also, if you do want to go on tours, you’re usually stuck paying a supplemental charge to have your own space. Tour guides may even have a minimum number of guests required to even do the tour and if that minimum isn’t met, you’re forced to either reschedule or pay for the total number needed to meet the minimum. There’s no other way to say it. It sucks.
The way I feel about hotels is this. I’m of the age where I can afford hotels and am willing to go for a shorter duration and maximize my time vs. staying in hostels. I know many will disagree but for me, 10pm is getting pretty late and all I really want do at night is relax, get some work done, and go to bed so I can wake up super early the next day.
Not having someone to look after your things
This is so annoying more than anything. You’re sitting at your gate and settled in to play a game or watch something on your laptop and you even have the perfect spot near the outlets. Then, you realize you need to use the restroom. Seriously, packing up all your things and dragging it to the bathroom is a real annoyance. Adding insult to injury is when you get back and your seat is taken. So annoying!
Or what if you’re eating and your food comes and you need to get up? Do you just leave your food there and hope no one touches it? Or do you just hold it until you’re ready to leave? I know it may sound stupid but you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re targeted for being a tourist.
Not being able to share memories or experiences
This might fall into the loneliness category but I don’t think it does. I view this as more of a time when you’re sitting around with your friends, relaxing, and recounting the day. It’s the stories that start “do you remember when…” or “how about when….” I think it’s nice to be able to share the memory especially if it’s a bucket list item or activity.
As independent as I am, I have to admit, sometimes it would be nice to share the memory.
Nonexistent wing man
A complaint I’ve heard in the past is that being a solo traveler means you don’t have a wing man when it comes to going to clubs and bars. I don’t go clubbing or to bars very often but I certainly understand the desire to have a wing man when you’re out enjoying the nightlife. Also having a wing man means you can look after each other if you end up having a few too many at the end of the night.
Another time you might want a wing man is if you’re driving. It can get pretty tricky if you’re driving in a foreign country with no clue as to where you’re going. It has certainly tripped me up a number of times (especially back when I didn’t travel with a phone). Even if you have maps on your phone giving you directions, it’s still nice to make sure there’s another set of eyes looking out to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
Related to this is that having a wing man means you can trade off on the driving duties. I’m sure we’ve all been there where we need to get away from the wheel and relax for a bit. Well that isn’t happening if you’re on the road alone. Having a wing man also makes the long drives seem shorter since you have someone to talk to. If you’re driving through a particularly boring piece of real estate, it can be difficult to focus so having someone there certainly helps.
Having a default spare
This is often overlooked but is great. If you lose charging cable, your friend might have one so you’re set. Maybe you lose your phone. At least your phone will be able to jump in and take all the photos for you to share at the end. It may see like a small thing but it’s really convenient to have a spare of everything in case one breaks down.
I love traveling solo and have happily gone all over the world doing exactly that. However, even I admit there are times when having a travel companion would certainly help. Much like everything in life, there are pros and cons to everything. And as much as enjoy solo travel, I concede that there are times when it would be nice to have someone.