Going It Alone: The Pros and Cons of Solo Travelling

Everyone knows that a trip abroad either before or after university can be one of the most exciting, life-changing and fun experiences of your life. As many of us start considering what we want to do after we graduate, the thought of leaving behind work, stress, and impending adult life and gallivanting off to South East Asia begins to look increasingly appealing.

However, it can often be extremely challenging to find somebody to come along for the ride with you. Co-ordinating time with a friend or group of friends can be a nightmare. One person has a grad job, the other wants to go to Asia whilst you want to go to America, another friend doesn’t have the money. Should you let this hold you back, or should you just embrace it and go it alone?

Her Campus Exeter have contemplated the pros and cons of travelling alone to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

PROS

  • ­Freedom
    • Travelling alone is undeniably liberating. Waking up and being able to do whatever you want to do, changing your plans last minute, spontaneously deciding where to go or what to eat, are all some of the biggest pros of travelling solo. You don’t have to visit that rubbish museum that your friend wants to go to, or risk missing out on something on your bucket list if others don’t see the appeal. Just make sure that despite being spontaneous, you’re still checking the Travel Aware website for information on your new, last-minute destination to make sure you have the right visas and vaccinations!

  • Opportunity to meet new people
    • Travelling abroad on your own gives you the opportunity meet an incredible range of like-minded people who you would never have met any other way, from all over the world, who you can tag along with and make fantastic memories with. This means that you won’t be as lonely, will have people to go on nights out with or hang out in the hostel with, all the while knowing that you aren’t committed to each other which therefore avoids the drama that inevitably accompanies travelling with your friends.

  • Pushes you outside of your comfort zone
    • One of the biggest pros is how much you grow as a person whilst travelling abroad. Amy Bearcroft, who travelled around New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia solo for nine months, said that one of the best things was that whilst it can get lonely and push you outside of your comfort zone, you ‘learn to love yourself’ and in the long run you ‘adapt to loads of situations as you have to figure it all out alone’. Therefore, in terms of improving your confidence, resilience, and open-mindedness, a solo trip abroad could be the one of the best things for you.

CONS

  • Safety
    • Being a solo female traveller has always carried the question of safety, but the murder of the British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand last year really highlighted this concern in the public conscience. Although it is unlikely that anything bad will happen, it’s undeniable that being alone makes you somewhat more vulnerable so it’s important to keep your wits about you. To maximise your safety, it’s important to take precautions; use padlocks to protect your stuff, only hang out with people you trust, avoid dodgy areas and being alone and drunk after dark in a place you don’t know very well. To give your parents some much-needed piece of mind, give them a copy of your passport and make sure they are up to date with your itinerary, especially if something changes last minute. The Travel Aware Campaign from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has some great advice on staying safe whilst travelling abroad and you can sign up for email and Twitter alerts specific to your destinations.

  • Lonely
    • Whilst travelling alone can give you the opportunity to meet incredible, like-minded people and make life-long friends, it can also be incredibly isolating and lonely. Many of the ‘friendships’ you make will often be superficial and short-lived, and constantly meeting new people can be draining. You’re also likely to spend a lot of time on your own. If this is something you’re comfortable with or want to challenge yourself with, then that’s great, but some might find it particularly difficult and it may impact on mental wellbeing while travelling. When I spent three days alone in Seattle last summer, my hostel was extremely anti-social, and I didn’t feel comfortable heading out in to the city by myself at night, leading me to spend the evenings extremely bored and alone with no one to talk to, especially given the time difference with home.

  • More expensive
    • Depending on the way you are, you might find that eating alone, travelling in taxis, buying your own toiletries or finding a guesthouse or hostel room for one person might be more expensive than splitting it between a group of you. However, in cheaper countries in Asia, this is unlikely to make a massive difference.

Whatever you choose, travelling abroad after graduation, or as a student, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I believe you should 100% embrace whether you have someone to go with or not. Going it alone might just be the best thing you could do, and you might surprise yourself in ways you never could have expected.

For more information on the Travel Aware campaign, and to find out advice on vaccinations, visas and wellbeing as well as up-to-date information specific to your destination, visit www.gov.uk/travelaware, follow @travelaware on Instagram and @fcotravel on Twitter.