One of the big decisions to make before setting off on a holiday or an extended stint of travelling is who to share the experience with. Whether taking a well-deserved week off from work to explore the Spanish coast or setting off on a round-the-world odyssey with no idea of a return date, deciding to go solo or travel in a group is one of the first stages of planning a trip. For some, the issue of having a significant other provides an answer to this debate pretty easily, but for others: it’s not so clear-cut.
With this in mind, here are some pros and cons of travelling alone and travelling in a group which could give you a better idea of whether to stick with the herd or go your own way.
One of the best things about travelling with a group is the amount of fun you’ll have sharing in the same experiences, inspiring each other to try new things and re-living the day’s events over drinks in the evenings. Travelling in a group means more options on how you spend your time, with everyone pitching in ideas or providing info on the best attractions, restaurants or sights in your chosen country. Plus, you’ll never find yourself in one of those amazing ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing’ moments with no-one to share it with, or back up your story when you return.
It may sound lame before you go, but anyone who’s been properly lost Bogata, stuck in an 8 hour delay at LAX or hugging the toilet in Delhi will tell you that sometimes, you just want the safety and security of having others around. While it’s perfectly safe for single travellers in the majority of destinations, safety in numbers gives you the confidence to try things you may be apprehensive about travelling on your own. Plus, in practical terms, having someone to look after your belongings when trying to find a hotel late at night, or using public transport can be a god-send.
Basically, if you travel with others, you’ll never have to experience the loneliness of arriving somewhere totally alien feeling jet-lagged, dirty and slightly overwhelmed by how strange everything is. You’ll always have someone else to back you up in hotel-room negotiations or market stall haggling, and a sympathetic ear to listen to your worries when it all gets too much.
It’s your holiday, you’ve spent months or sometimes years saving up for a trip, and yet when it comes to deciding where to go, what to do and how much to spend, you’re suddenly having to make compromises? Travelling alone means you are free to decide on every aspect of your journey and just concentrate on what makes you happy. There’s no-one else to dictate your itinerary, and if you want to change your plans and head to a Kibbutz in Israel for a month, no-one’s going to stop you.
Another great thing about setting off on single holidays is that it’s much easier to meet new people if you’re on your own. Being in a couple automatically gives the impression that you’d like to be left alone, while travelling in groups of friends means there’s rarely the time or incentive to meet anyone else. Travelling alone means locals and other travellers alike are much more likely to approach you, and you’re much more likely to meet some utterly fascinating people with a totally different take on life than your friends back home.
In a nutshell, solo travelling gives you the freedom to truly explore a place on your own terms without the distraction of people you know reminding you of your life back home. It gives you a unique chance to really immerse yourself in another culture, meet new people and experience things without needing the approval of others.
Both types of travelling have their up and downsides, and it really comes down to personal preference as to which is better for your trip. If you’re quite shy and find it hard to talk to strangers, you may find travelling with others is essential to stave off loneliness, especially if you’re going away for a long time, or to a country where you don’t speak the language. Alternatively, if you are quite strong-willed and have a very clear idea about what you want to do and see while you’re away, it may be best to travel alone and not risk alienating your friends when the decision making comes to a head.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a straight choice between one and the other. Many travel companies now offer single holidays where single travellers can meet up with others for a set period of time in order to experience adventure holidays like walking the Inca Trail or camel trekking across the Egyptian desert. As the tours are designed for single travellers, it’s a great way to meet new people, and as the itineraries are pre-set, you can feel fairly comfortable that everyone there is going to want to do the same things. If you really hit it off, you can carry on travelling with some of the people you meet, and if not, you can go your separate ways with no hard feelings and no recriminations when you get home!
Author: Lalage loves travelling on single holidays, just as long as they’re with her boyfriend!
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