Being a Loner or a Lover – Pros and Cons of Independent Travel

Everyone says traveling alone is hard, especially for women. So I decided I needed to keep a running list of this stuff as a young, independent, female traveler. This takes personal and other people’s experiences and talks about traveling with others as well. Some of it is funny, some of it is practical, some of it makes me wish I had a boyfriend, and some of it makes me question whether I can really spend the rest of my life with someone.

Of course, where you travel to can be a determining factor if you’re a woman trying to decide if you want to travel alone or not. Safety can be a major concern. When all is said and done though, I think there is a time and a place for traveling alone or with another person. I highly recommend traveling on your own (especially as a woman) because it is an amazing experience and as cheesy as it sounds, it will make you learn things about yourself you never knew. You will be happy, enlightened, scared, lonely, humbled, and so much more.

Travelling Alone

Pros:

  • You don’t have to answer to anyone at anytime on any day unless it’s an embassy/visa office, or plane ticket. This allows you to do things like play music loudly, dance in your underwear, and stay up (or sleep in) as long as you want.
  • You don’t have to worry about bathroom time when nature calls, but more problematically, when you have an upset stomach from all that street food you’ve been eating.
  • You can embrace spontaneity and adventure without having to worry about another person’s feelings/schedule/money, etc.
  • You find yourself wandering around more aimlessly than you would think and discover the best and unique stories to share from it.
  • There is a higher percentage of likelihood for you to meet more people traveling alone. Have you ever tried to engage in a conversation with a couple or group of people at once? It can be awkward. Don’t worry though, you’ll learn how to do this well by the end of it.
  • You get quality time to really “discover” yourself or I guess you can just call it day dreaming.
  • Despite what people say, I think it takes more confidence than guts to travel as a solo woman. Your self confidence will increase. Not because that people think you’re brave and awesome (even though you are), but because you will learn for yourself that you have everything it takes to take on things you never knew you could.
  • The three F’s: Flexibility, Freedom, and Fun!

Cons:

  • You have to learn how to create a careful balance of having a drink at a bar alone and being the creeper in the corner with several empty pints on the table.
  • Accommodation and transportation costs are a little higher without someone to split them with. You usually end up at hostels because of this (not necessarily a bad thing if you want to meet people).
  • When waiting at the airport or a train/bus station, you don’t have someone to watch your bags for you while you run to the bathroom or grab something to eat.
  • You don’t have anyone to take a cool photo of you doing cool things in these cool places.
  • If you haven’t made a friend on your journey, it can be a little lonely without someone to laugh or share comments with.

Traveling with…

A significant other

Pros

  • You have someone you can trust. Unless you have a crappy boyfriend.
  • You have someone who can lift your bound-to-be heavier than needed luggage into the overhead compartments.
  • Your relationship is put to a real test as you both experience unexpected events, stress, and new experiences (this could also be a con for the relationship)
  • You can share a room without the awkward who takes the couch conversation.
  • Taxis and other modes of shared transportation/accommodation costs can be split, thus saving you money.
  • This probably sounds sexist, but boyfriends usually tend to pick up the tab for things more. I believe in going dutch most times, but this is always an appreciated gesture.

Cons

  • It’s harder to meet people, and I don’t care how in love you are, you need conversation with other people. At some point you’re bound to drive each other crazy.

Just a friend

Pros

  • You have someone you can trust. Unless you have crappy friends.
  • It is less likely you be at each other’s throats as much as couples since you are independent beings and not really obligated to please the other (unless you have some friends with control issues…in which case you should not be travelling with them anyway).
  • You can emotionally support each other without relationship drama.
  • You always have someone to talk to, drink with, go out with.
  • Hurray! Someone to take pictures of you doing cool things in the cool places you’ve been. You can prove to folks back home you’re not just hiding at the airport somewhere.
  • You can still split the cost of a room to save some money but depending on your friendship level may have to deal with the “who gets the couch” conversation. Therefore, you can stay in a bed and breakfast or hotel for the same cost of a dorm room at a hostel. Many places can offer twin bed accommodation.
  • You have someone who will worry about you if don’t return from an outing.
  • You have someone who can save you when you forget your wallet or lose access to funds (robbery, etc).
  • Travel planning can be exhausting. It’s nice to have someone who will take the reigns over for a couple days and you’ll probably end up doing something new or you never considered before!

Cons

  • If you’re a female traveling with a male friend, you have to start developing ways to nonchalantly drop that you are single when you meet an interesting guy and you’re with your friend. Everyone will assume you two are together. EVERYONE.
  • Sometimes you realize even though you’re good friends, that maybe you shouldn’t ever travel together.
  • Depending on your level of friendship, it may not be ok to dance around in your underwear.
  • You’re bound to learn more about each other’s hygiene practices than you’d probably like to know.
  • It’s kind of like college dorm room issues again. You can’t bring your date home. Sometimes this can lead to creative exploration.

But you know how this goes…you spend too much time with someone, you start to go crazy and as soon as they leave, you miss them. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

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