Lately it seems like each time I open a travel website or blog, there’s something written in there about the perks of travelling solo. And it does look enticing – the notion of self discovery, making new friends, learning new stuff about life and different cultures, and coming back enriched with experiences. Only it’s not! At least, not for me.
How did I arrive on this opinion, you ask? Well, after trying my hand at solo travel a couple of times thanks to all the internet hoo-ha, and having the exact opposite of a great time, I arrived at the conclusion that I’d rather travel with friends and family than just have "I, me, myself" for company.
It took time to own up to the fact that travelling solo isn’t indeed the fairytale that it is promised to be (social media can do that to you), but now that I have, here are my reasons:
1. It’s goddamn expensive
Travelling is expensive as it is, but if you go alone, you’re just spending double the amount. C’mon, you don’t have anyone to share cab, room and food expenses with and on top of that you have to compromise on comfort too. You could get a room in a three-star property in the country for about ₹600-700 if you’re sharing with a friend(s), but this amount will only get you a bunk in a far-flung hostel if you’re travelling solo.
2. You gotta worry about safety… all the time
If you’re travelling with someone, you tend to look out for each other. It’s easier to let your guard down and just have fun. But when you’re alone, you’ve got to be aware of everything around you, all the friggin' time. Every time you can’t find your wallet or phone, you’ll get a mini heart attack! And that, my friends, is no fun at all. And if you’re a woman, you have to be extra careful. Makes you look at everyone with a sense of scepticism.
3. Eating alone is boring as hell
When I’m at home, I’m perfectly fine having a meal by myself, but when I’m out and about, I want to share the experience with someone. Sending someone a snap of a delicious taco doesn’t really do justice to the food and they can’t really see my expressions change as I experience the chicken melting with the delicious dressing in my mouth. In fact, when travelling with friends, I’ve had so many of them click my pictures while eating because they love how I enjoy the food. How do I do that when I’m all by myself, trying to figure out how much I can spend on the meal, while keeping an eye out for all my belongings and also trying to enjoy the food on my plate?
4. So is drinking by yourself
What the hell do you do in a bar or a cafe alone? To smile or not to smile at the stranger across? To strike up a conversation with the bartender or just quietly sip on your drink and leave? It is more awkward than you can imagine. And I am by no means an introvert, but there’s something about going up to a stranger for small talk that is truly uncomfortable. That’s just my perspective though.
5. There’s no one to take pictures of you
Filling my Instagram feed with photos of skylines and landscapes can get pretty repetitive, pretty fast. And I don’t really have proof I visited the place at all unless a stranger offers to click a picture of me. Well, of course I could put the camera on a timer and then enter the frame for a shot, but every time I’ve tried this, it hasn’t really ended well. And I have shots of me with weird expressions and half-cut landscapes in the background. On the other hand, if I have a friend accompanying me, we can click each others pictures and the selfies become more interesting too.
6. Cell phone batteries drain at the speed of light
I’m part of the 21st century internet generation and would rather spend time on social media on my phone rather than strike up a conversation with a stranger in an unknown land. Okay sometimes I’d do that too, but as soon as I’m done being a makeshift traveller, I’m back to Instagram and Facebook, checking what the rest of my friends are up to. Result? A fast-draining battery and a portable charger are always in tow. And this goes against all safety rules of having at least one functioning communication device in case there’s an emergency. My ultimate horror, though, is to have my phone die in the middle of a meal, at a cafe, and then having to stare at people without looking like a creep to keep myself entertained.
7. It’s too damn difficult to have to do everything on your own
We’re literally burdened with responsibilities 24x7. Travelling is a way to escape the routine for some relaxation. And when you’re with a friend or a group, this gets way easier. Sharing the load, you see. If you’re alone, however, it’s even more responsibility than you’re used to in everyday life. And trust me, no matter how good of a multi-tasker you are, you cannot possibly be good at everything. I, for example, even after five years of driving continuously, am not really the best at changing flats or looking out for engine defects in cars – and this is a problem if you’re travelling by yourself and are faced with a similar situation. It took me three hours once to do this by myself. Not the best time, I’d say.
8. You can’t revel in the comfort of relying on someone in case of an emergency
This goes hand-in-hand with the point on safety. If you’re in an emergency, like the flat-tyre one I mentioned above, or something more severe, it’s difficult to find someone you can trust to help you out. You always have your guard on. Having a friend around in such times is a blessing, and you only realise this when you’ve seen the other side of the fence.
9. And most importantly, there’s no one to share experiences with
Yes, you can go back home and tell everyone what an amazing time you had, but while you’re there taking in the view of the sun setting over the ocean, you want to be able to marvel at the beauty by talking to someone close to you. Even stories, and drunken adventures are more fun to narrate when you have a friend to share them with in the first place.
I applaud the spirit of all those solo travellers out there who go on experiencing life on their own terms. Travelling alone may be a great way to explore the world, but it’s definitely not the only way. There was a time when I wanted to be like these backpacking travellers with their selfie sticks and casual attires, but for now, I will stick to hitting the road with my best friends, partner or family. For me, travelling is so much better when shared.
Have you ever travelled solo? How was the experience? Write about it on Tripoto and let fellow travellers know.