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I love travelling alone. It is my favourite way to travel, and I can’t imagine a future where I don’t travel alone at least a few times a year. However, there are some disadvantages of travelling alone you need to be aware of if you want to be a solo traveller.
None of the disadvantages of travelling alone should make you reconsider your solo trip or convince you not to travel alone.
There are far more benefits of travelling alone than there are disadvantages.
The disadvantages of travelling alone on this list are more to help you better understand what solo travel entails and help you prepare for your first solo trip.
If you’ve been around the blog for a long time, you know I would never try to talk anybody out of travelling alone if that is what they want to do!
1. Accommodation is Expensive
One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone in my opinion is that the price of accommodation adds up quickly.
A lot of people say that travelling alone is more expensive than travelling in a group, and I don’t agree with that.
You only have to pay for one flight, one meal, one entrance fee, etc.
The place where is is more expensive to travel alone is accommodation. A hotel doesn’t care that you’re travelling alone. They’re going to charge you the same rate for a room as they do two people sharing the room.
This doesn’t mean you can’t afford to travel alone, but you need to make sure you budget properly and understand that accommodation is going to be expensive.
Of course, there are ways to find less expensive accommodation when you travel alone.
Hostels are a popular choice amongst solo travellers, and there are significantly less expensive than a hotel.
They aren’t for everybody though. I personally don’t care for hostels, and a lot of the time it comes down to your personality and comfort level.
If you’re like me and avoid hostels at all costs, there are still options to find inexpensive (but still good) accommodation when travelling alone.
I personally enjoy staying in guest houses.
They are normally less expensive than a hotel, and you still get a private room (and most often a private bathroom).
I personally think it is worth paying a little bit more to stay in a good neighbourhood and in a reputable accommodation.
I’ve spent far too many nights scared and uncomfortable in a shady hostel/hotel, and I don’t want you to experience that!
So, budget accordingly and pay for a decent place to stay. I’m not saying you need to stay in a five-start hotel.
Just be sure to stay somewhere you’ll be safe!
2. Getting the Perfect Photo is Challenging
Without a doubt one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone is not having someone around to quickly snap a photo of you.
You either have to take a selfie, ask a stranger to take your photo, or set up a tripod.
All are very doable, and you can get some amazing photos of yourself on your solo trip, but it takes a little more skill and patience to get the perfect shot.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I have basically no photos of me for the first five years I travelled alone. I didn’t want to set up a tripod, don’t care for selfies, and loathe talking to strangers.
Looking back, I do wish I had more photos of me in the places I visited.
I love having photos of the landscape and architecture, but now that I’m older, it would be fun to look back at my 21-year old self travelling alone for the first time and see how far I’ve come.
If you’re travelling alone, I highly recommend you have a strategy of how you’ll snap the perfect picture of you travelling.
I personally like to get up early, go to a sight, and use a tripod to get a photo of me. That way I avoid the crowds, and it feels less awkward for me.
I totally understand that not everybody wants to get up early on vacation though! I’m a bit of a weirdo.
So, decide if you feel comfortable using a tripod when there are more people about or rely on selfies or have more guts than I do and ask a stranger.
I don’t care how you do it, but I know you won’t regret getting some pictures of you travelling alone.
3. Budgeting is Extremely Important
This is similar to the first point in this article, but it goes beyond just accommodation.
One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone and something I struggled with when I first started travelling alone is creating and sticking to a realistic budget.
You are 100% responsible for every penny you spend while travelling alone, and if you don’t budget correctly, you’re hooped.
There is nobody you can bum money off of to get you through the last few days. You either need to find a way make money quickly or sacrifice things like food because you don’t have enough money.
I don’t want you to have to do either of those things!
It is so, so, so important that you set a budget that works for you and your travel style.
I fell into the trap of reading blogs and listening to what other people said I should be spending.
You need to do some research and figure out how much accommodation, transportation, food, and sightseeing costs on average wherever you’re going and figure out your budget based on that information.
If you’re a budget traveller and love staying in hostel dorm rooms, your expenses will be cheaper than someone like me who prefers to stay in a hotel or AirBnb.
How much you spend on a trip is so personal.
You can see what someone else spent on their trip to get an idea of how much things cost, but you shouldn’t take their budget as hard facts and replicate it.
You should also keep a little extra money in your bank account just in case an emergency happens, and you run out of money.
4. You Have to Solve all Your Problems
Something is going to come up on your trip, and you’re going to have to go into problem solving mode.
I’m certainly not saying something serious will go wrong on your trip! I’m just saying that something little like missing a train or arriving somewhere after all the restaurants are closed will happen on your trip.
One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone is you don’t have anybody to bounce ideas off of, and you have to solve every little problem that comes up.
There is a lot of decision making to be done when you travel alone!
The good news is that problem solving is a skill, and you get better at it the more you do it.
Once you’ve solved one problem, the next one becomes easier to solve because you have real-world experience.
The best way you can prepare for this aspect of solo travel is to practice problem solving alone before you leave.
If your first instinct when even the slightest thing goes wrong is to seek out advice and help from someone else, stop that pattern.
Try working out the issue by yourself and learn how to use your problem solving muscles.
Easier said than done I know, but it is worth trying out!
If you don’t practice at home, you’ll be thrown into the deep end when you start travelling alone.
You had best cross your fingers and hope that the first few things that go wrong are small and easy for you to solve.
Otherwise, you might end up balled up in your bed crying. I’ve been there once or twice on my solo travel journey!
But, one of the beautiful things about learning to problem solve while travelling alone is that it helps you grow so much as a person.
Honestly, travelling alone has given me so much confidence in my ability to figure stuff out and not panic when something goes wrong.
Very important life skills I’m thankful to have!
5. It can get Lonely
You’re going to be travelling all alone for the duration of your entire trip- whether it is days or months.
Even if you meet people along the way, you’ll feel lonely and homesick at some point during your solo trip.
I still miss my family and get lonely sometimes, and I’ve been travelling alone for years!
Perhaps I was naive, but I didn’t expect to be lonely when I travelled alone. I expected to be busy and always out and about and not have time to miss my family and friends back home.
But I did, and I felt weird for having these feelings when I was exploring the world and living an amazing life.
My first solo travel experience was unique because I was on the road for three months, but even if you’re only gone for a week, it is totally normal to miss the people you care about and feel a bit lonely.
The best way to combat loneliness while travelling is to let yourself feel the emotions and stay in contact with the people you’re lonely for.
6. You Don’t Have a Buddy to Watch Your Stuff
One of the best things about travelling with another person is there is always somebody there to watch your stuff.
Not having that is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone.
But, the good news is that you rarely need someone to watch your stuff for you.
The only time I ever groan and wish I had someone to watch my stuff for me is when I’m in the airport and have to lug all my luggage with me to the washroom rather than leaving my luggage with my travel companion to watch.
It isn’t that much of an inconvenience, but it can be a bit annoying.
You should definitely take this into consideration when packing for your trip. You are 100% responsible for lugging your luggage around, so you can’t pack more than you can carry.
Not only do you have to manage your luggage in the airport but also on the metro from the airport to your accommodation, walking from the metro to your accommodation, and when you get to your accommodation.
If you’re staying in an old hotel in Europe, you may have to walk up three or four flights of stairs to your room with your luggage because there isn’t an elevator.
If you struggle carrying or lifting your luggage from your home to your car, you should reconsider what you’re taking and lighten your load.
I’ve seen many a solo travellers almost in tears trying to carry their luggage up a flight of stairs at the metro station in the middle of rush hour with locals getting inpatient behind them.
Try not to be that person!
7. You Have to get Used to Eating Alone
One of the things I hear most from people considering a solo trip is that they’re nervous about eating alone.
I totally understand the hesitation. It wasn’t something I was nervous about before my first solo trip, but eating alone did take a while to get used to.
Luckily, eating alone isn’t as scary as you make it out to be in your head. It quickly becomes second nature, and you feel just as comfortable eating alone as you do eating with a group of people.
Having something to distract you while eating alone at a restaurant is one of the best ways to distract yourself and make the first few times you eat alone less uncomfortable.
I like to have a book with me, but you may want to bring your laptop or notebook or choose a restaurant that has free wifi you can connect to.
If eating alone is the one thing holding you back from booking your first solo trip, take the leap of faith and book that trip!
8. You’ll be Bombarded with Small Talk
Gah. I cannot tell you how much small talk I’ve had to endure as a solo traveller. It is almost never ending, and it is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone for introverts like me.
When you check into a hotel, go on a free walking tour, go on a group tour, anybody you meet that finds out you’re travelling alone is going to ask you the same general questions.
Where are you travelling? How long are you travelling for? Aren’t you afraid?
And if you’re a woman travelling alone, you can expect those lovely questions about what your parents think. If you have a boyfriend and who is paying for your trip because you as a woman can’t possibly fund your own travels.
There isn’t anything wrong with having someone else help you fund your trip (my parents paid for my first international flight), but I hate the idea that someone else has to be paying for my trip as a solo female traveller.
No matter what questions you get while travelling alone, they will get old very quickly, and you’ll dread them.
Especially if you’re staying in hostels.
Every. Single. Person. You meet will engage in small talk.
That’s probably great if you’re an extrovert, but as an introvert, it is one of the worst parts of travelling alone.
9. You Can’t Avoid Boredom
You don’t go, go, go 24/7 while on holiday. Well, at least most people don’t.
There is always downtime, and one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone is you don’t have someone to chit chat with when you’re not seeing and doing things.
Honestly, it can get boring in the evenings (and sometimes in the mornings if you’re up early before attractions open).
It is impossible not to experience at least some boredom while travelling alone. Sometimes watching tv doesn’t take away the boredom, and, if you’re like me, you kind of just sit around waiting to be able to go to sleep.
Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often, and there are easy ways you can combat any boredom that seeps into your solo trip.
I personally like to Facetime my parents back home when I get a little bored. There is always something to talk about, and it makes time fly by.
You can also read or learn a new skill online. I’m partial to trying to learn new languages and have found that using a free service like Duolingo helps keep me occupied when I would otherwise be bored in the hotel.
I just wanted to give you the head’s up that you’ll probably be bored at some point during your solo travel adventure.
It wasn’t something I expected to experience when I first started travelling alone. I thought I was travelling wrong and would push myself to go out and stay out even longer.
That is not the solution. It is totally normal to feel some sort of boredom while travelling alone.
You shouldn’t feel ashamed if you do experience boredom!
Why Didn’t I Talk About Safety?!
On almost every article talking about solo travel and the pros and cons of it, people argue that you need to take safety precautions as a solo traveller.
I personally don’t think travelling alone is inherently more or less dangerous than travelling in a group.
I believe everybody should take the same safety precautions, and you’re as safe as you act. It is your responsibility while travelling (either alone or in a group) to understand the local scams and customs and make safety decisions based on that information.
Travelling alone may make pick pockets think you’re an easy target, but if you carry your bag at your side of in front of you, you’re not in any more danger than someone in a group holding their bag the same way.
I don’t like the narrative that solo travel in more dangerous than travelling in a group.
I especially don’t like the narrative that travelling alone as a woman is more dangerous that travelling in a group or travelling alone as a man.
Some countries and cities are safer than others, but that doesn’t mean that travelling alone makes them any more or less safe.
My safety advice to travellers is the same whether or not they travel alone or in a group:
- Understand local scams
- If you feel uncomfortable, turn around
- Trust your gut
- Install a VPN on all your electronic devices
- Dress according to local standards
- Don’t get drunk in public
- Avoid walking alone late at night if possible
Simple tips like that are far more effective and honest than fear mongering and making solo travel seem inherently dangerous.
It could be based on where you go and how you act, but that danger has nothing to do with you travelling alone.
Solo travel is one of the most amazing experiences you can have in life.
But, there are a number of disadvantages of travelling alone. You are responsible for every single decision you make, and you have to live with any consequences that comes with those decisions.
You can also feel lonely, homesick, and bored.
But, if there is one thing I know, it is that the benefits of travelling alone far outweigh the disadvantages of travelling alone.
You’ll have infinitely more better experiences and memories than you have moments that bring you down or make you miss home.