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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pros and Cons of traveling solo

List compiled while traveling solo on different trips in different parts of the world...


- Freedom to do whatever you want with each day. Want to stay in and read? Do it. Want to get a haircut, manicure, massage, and drink mimosas by a pool instead of seeing sites? Do it. Want to trek all of a new city, getting lost, and coming home with sore foot and a ton of photos? Do it. You make the rules when you travel solo. That's rare in life. Appreciate it.

- Your timetable. It sucks having to plan around someone else's time constraints. They have to be on the 2nd, so since you are traveling together, you book the flight home together before the 2nd. But you could stay! YOU don't have to go home yet. When you travel solo you can stay out traveling as long as you want. You can also actually stay out - like clubbing, bars, festivals - as long as you want. No whiny friend or drunk buddy to take home or to compromise with about when you'll leave this location. Unless you hate it there, you don't have to leave yet.

- Privacy. I love staying in private spaces (hotel room, Airbnb entire place, tent). Sure, I'll do a hostel on the occasional trip, but I like having my own space. Traveling with a friend means you give up a major amount of privacy. You'll likely be with each other 24/7. And if you aren't, you could run the risk of offending your friend by seeming to not want to spend time together. I'm an introvert, so I need chill (SILENT) time pretty regularly. I like having the option of wearing less clothing in my own space. I like being able to spread out all my luggage everywhere instead of sharing space in an already cramped room. Know yourself, but for me, traveling solo allows me the privacy level that I like.


- Every decision is on you. Whether the result is good or bad, you are the only one you can praise or blame. That's frightening. What if you choose to walk the wrong way and it takes forever to get home? What if you can't figure out how to get a ticket on the metro? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TODAY? Making decisions is a daily practice but we rarely have the freedom to look at several hours in a new place and decide - where, what, when, how, why - and doing that with no filter (buddy, friend, even random hostel friend-person) puts everything on your shoulders. So be ready for some responsibility, ask for help from strangers (in other languages!) and learning to own your mistakes.

- Lack of accountability. I'm more productive if a friend is working beside me. The same goes with travel. With no one to get you up and going, you can slip into a funk or a rut, or a travel-depression (re: Bali for me). It's nice to have someone else there, excited to go exploring and who helps you power-up and go. I know I also like to say something like, "I'm keeping the tickets in my red coin purse, okay? Help me remember please." It sounds stupid to say that aloud to yourself and it is better to have 2 brains remembering something than 1.

- It is seriously lonely. One of my favorite things about traveling is sharing the memories of a trip. "Remember when? Oh yeah and that...!" I share a lot on social media online, but it is absolutely not the same as having a physical person who was also there and also remembers wandering the headlands by Sydney with a stiff breeze trying to knock us over, or the beautiful music performance on the street in Cologne that made me tear up. We need witnesses to our lives, that's why we produce and share so much, especially in our digital age. But nothing will replace a shared memory of a special place and time between friends. So traveling solo doesn't allow that. You make memories within groups of people - all seeing the Lourve's paintings together, all experiencing this sudden rainstorm, but you never reminisce with those folks. Get ready to be lonely, not just on the trip but after, if you travel solo.  

More reasons to come.

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