JC Explores: Travel Contrasts – Travelling Solo
I’m joining in with my first ever link up this week – the travel link up. It’s hosted by the lovely Runaway Kiwi, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes and Adventures of a London Kiwi, three amazing New Zealand bloggers in London. This month, the theme was ‘travel contrasts’, and after having a ponder I really wanted to talk about the contrast between travelling solo versus travelling with friends and family. I find this distinction completely changes the experience you have. I know that a lot of people go travelling for a more educational reason (and some even do it for work). For example, I have one friend who did this Cultural Care Au Pair and I know that they had a completely different experience to me on my travels.
I’ve travelled solo a few times, mainly within the same country but I always try to embrace the culture that I am visiting, for example when I visited Germany I took a German course with UKLP and a few other language resources to try and expand my knowledge of the culture and be able to communicate effectively with the locals. Anyway, when I first moved to London, I decided that it was time for a trip abroad – alone! I remember thinking that I wanted to go to somewhere like Korea, and I spent ages looking at where to stay in Myeongdong, or other places in Korea. But at that time I came to the conclusion that it was too far. So instead I booked in a trip to Austria and Hungary and headed off on my first solo trip. I want to run through the pros and cons which contrast the two.
I think the best bit of solo travel is the freedom. There is nothing which really replicates that feeling of getting off in a country where you don’t know anyone or anything and there is no one around to help. It definitely gives that jolt to the system which reminds you that it’s what you want to do which matters. It also puts you in a situation where you really need to depend on yourself – if you want to grow your independence then solo travel is really effective.
Second, is the ability to do whatever you want to do. I really wanted to go on holiday, but at the time I didn’t really know anyone in the UK. Instead of deciding not to go, I figured I would just go by myself – a choice which I think more people need to make. Then once you get there, you can decide exactly when you want to get up, what you want to see and where you will go!
It can be a bit of a pain sometimes when you’re with a large group, all with competing interests and needs – it does need compromise. Whereas, when travelling solo, the only decision maker is you! It means your holiday will be completely tailored to what you want to do.
Finally, although this didn’t happen too much on my solo trips, I think that solo travel can lead to meeting a whole lot of travel buddies. If you stay in a hostel then you’re pretty likely to bump into someone in the same boat as you who is also looking for a travel companion.
The cons of solo travel, equate to the the pros of travelling with friends and family! Firstly, when travelling with others, you always have someone to go with you. Although I’m more than happy to wander around tourist sights alone, when it comes to meals it is a different story. I’m good with breakfast and lunch but dinner was a struggle – I find it hard to go out to a sit down meal alone in an English speaking country, nevermind one where I don’t understand a word. This does mean I may have ended up getting room service a bit more than I should have. But really, who doesn’t love room service?
One thing that I didn’t think would happen when I travelled alone is that I worried a lot more. I worried that my things were going to be stolen and was checking my bags all the time. I was checking my home security camera and monitor on my phone every time I went to bed to check my home was safe. It didn’t affect my holiday too much but I’m not like that when I have someone with me.
Solo travel photo problems!
Being with other travel pals does have a lot of benefits, someone to take photos of you, share the costs and most importantly share experiences. I think trips with others can be such bonding experiences and it does reassure you when you are in a foreign land that you do have someone there looking out for you which you don’t always get when you are travelling solo.
Overall, I do really enjoy solo travel, but being with others really does make a trip. That said if you’ve never been on a solo trip then I wholly recommend it – it is such a good experience for learning more about yourself.
What’s your opinion on solo travel vs. travelling with friends and family?