Growing up, I was always told to travel with a buddy. We needed a companion to walk with us to the nurse’s office, in from recess, and during field trips to the zoo. Traveling anywhere alone not only seemed wrong, it was deemed dangerous. What if we get lost or left behind? The horror! As I got older, going out alone was just uncool. You were judged by the number of friends at your lunch table and the size of your posse walking the mall. Now that I’m an adult, being single has its own stigmas. Taking myself to dinner anywhere other than a take-out place will most likely result in a look of pity from a hostess as she leads me to a table for one.
One thing travel taught me is that sometimes it’s more fun to be alone. Going somewhere solo is definitely not wrong, and doesn’t have to be dangerous if you’re aware of your surroundings. No matter where you go, travel will always be cool. One of the best parts is that you’re going some place where no one knows you, so who cares what they think about the size of your party. Being a single female traveler has only empowered me and made me feel stronger and braver than I ever have before, and that’s certainly nothing to pity.
When it comes to travel, going it alone or with a co-pilot has its own set of pluses and minuses. It’s different for everyone, but the secret is to try both and find out which one works best for you.
One of the best parts about heading out on your own is that YOU get to make the plans. You can go where you want, do what you want, eat what you want, and see what you want. There’s no one you need to check it with, plan around, or compromise for. It’s all about you and the destination. Feel like stopping, shopping, sailing, or hailing a cab? Do it. It’s your prerogative.
When it’s just you, you have a better chance of taking in your surroundings. You’re usually not in a rush. You can take your time and stay on your own personal schedule. You also have to look out for yourself, so being more aware of what’s around you plays a part in your personal security as well. Follow your instincts and use common sense. The best part about travel is experiences, so take it all in.
Another interesting fact I discovered while traveling solo is that I tend to meet a lot more people when I’m on my own. Without a partner, you can be more open to making conversation with someone else–it’s a lot less creepy than talking to yourself. Depending on the situation, these conversations could lead to travel tips, a friendly meal, and even a new Facebook friend or two. Whatever the case, it’s sure to add to your travel experience and make for a great story when you get home.
Some of the downsides to solo travel is that you don’t always have someone to share these experiences with. Sure, you can share them through posted pictures and blogs, but it’s different when you can actually turn to a friend or family member and revel in your journey. You also can’t share the cost of travel. Hotel, food, and tours can really add up–especially since some of the rates are based on double occupancy.
When you do get to share experiences and expenses of travel with someone, you also have to share responsibility and planning. Unless your travel buddy is a total follower and will do whatever you want to do, then there has to be some compromise. Even when you do travel with a follower, their needs need to be considered as well–whether it’s their walking speed or dietary restrictions.
Traveling in a group or with a buddy can also limit your scope. When you’re wrapped up with someone else–talking, planning, or pointing out what they could be missing–you limit yourself to your own little world within the world. You take more time sharing and less time just being. While companion travel is about sharing experiences, it’s also important to take time to just be in the moment, even when you’re with someone else.
Being more in the moment together could also create a stronger bond between two travelers. Taking in new environments, navigating new streets, and trying new things is always something that creates some of the most vivid memories. The person you’re with becomes part of these memories–creating a bond that’s hard to break.
Whether on your own or with a group, the point is to travel. There’s a big world out there with so much to see, do, and learn, and if you want to see/do/learn it, then you shouldn’t have to wait for someone else who wants to join in. If you happen to find a willing companion, make sure they’re up for an adventure, because there’s no point in going if you don’t experience the best the world has to offer.