7 Reasons Why Solo Travel Sucks and Why I Do It Anyways

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Solo travel changed me. It was a transformative experience. I found myself thanks to solo travel. 

Three -sorta-inspirational things I would never say about any of my solo travel experiences

Not that those things aren’t true for some, but let’s get real. I’m willing to bet most solo travelers travel alone because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t travel at all, which is the best reason I can think of to travel solo.

There are a few things I love about traveling solo, but there have been plenty of times I wish I wasn’t alone. Solo travel can be rewarding, but it’s also really challenging and exhausting. 

Social media does a great job inspiring solo travel hopefuls but falls short of revealing what’s really behind the curtain. 

As an avid solo traveler, I always provide first-hand, genuine opinions about my experiences- good or bad. I never want to over glamorize travel, especially solo travel knowing that there are a lot of challenges that come along with it. 

So in an effort to “keep things real,” here are a few reasons why solo travel (and let’s just be blunt) sucks and why I do it anyways.

Boredom

Despite planning enough activities to keep myself busy, I often experience boredom on many of my solo travel journeys.

There are times when I wish I had a friend to talk to or when I hit a wall because all of the activities I thought I wanted to do now just seem too boring to do alone.

Lack of companionship can lead to feelings of isolation, especially during meals or at popular tourist spots. 

When this happens, I usually book a group tour to force myself into a social setting. It’s easy for me to self-isolate on a solo trip. Meeting new people & engaging in new conversations can be exhausting, and sometimes, when I’m traveling solo, as a safety precaution, I don’t want anyone to know I’m traveling solo. 

It doesn’t stop me from traveling because I’d rather be bored in a new destination than be bored at home, but when boredom sinks in, I can’t help but crave companionship. Bordem is probably the number one thing I hate about solo travel.

Safety

When I first started traveling solo, I always worried about my safety and missed out on some experiences because I was too afraid I would attract unwanted attention or be the target of a crime. 

So many times, I’ve wanted to go out, have a drink at a local bar, or check out a new lounge, but because I didn’t feel safe in a bar by myself and never wanted to break the cardinal rule of;  don’t walk alone in the dark, I’d skip out and have another uneventful night in.

Then, when in the Highlands of Scotland, I decided to go to a local bar two blocks from my bed-and-breakfast. I was the only girl and the only tourist sitting at the bar surrounded by a bunch of local men, and I had a great time. The locals were fantastic, and I never felt uncomfortable. I started to realize it’s OK to let my guard down a little bit in certain safe destinations, and I have had a lot more eventful experiences since.

One other thing that sucks when it comes to safety is not having someone reliable to watch over your belongings during bathroom breaks or excursions. Especially at an airport when you want to save your seat but have to pee.

I often times hold it and use the airplane restroom when I first board, just so I don’t have to give up my seat while waiting at the gate or try to fit my luggage in the tiny airport stall. If I have a backpack, forget it- usually, the hanger on the back of the stall door is broken, and there is no way I’m sitting my bag down on the dirty bathroom floor. It’s such a pain to use the restroom in an airport when you do not have anyone to watch your stuff! It is definitely one of the many woes of solo travel.

Decision Fatigue

It’s honestly nice to be able to do what you want when you want, but constantly making decisions and not having anyone to weigh the pros and cons with can be mentally draining. Sometimes I just don’t know what the best decision is. It would be so nice to converse about a big decision or have someone take it off my plate completely, but when you travel solo, there’s no such luxury. 

The good thing is you get used to it after a while, and now, after years of solo travel experience, I easily make decisions without much contemplating. If I am really not sure about something, I can always ask a local, hotel staff or hop on the internet. At the end of the day, most travel decisions can be easily rectified anyway, so it does not scare me out of traveling solo. 

Costs

There are a lot of cost-sharing benefits when traveling with others. Splitting rental cars, accommodation, excursions, and even food is a joy when traveling with companions. Traveling solo means fronting the entire bill and not being able to order as much as I want at a restaurant because I have no one to share it with.

A single supplement is a solo traveler’s worst nightmare. It frustrates me so much that just because I’m by myself, I often have to pay more for the same experience as other couples or small groups. 

I once booked a tour in Dubai through With Locals, not realizing they advertised the per-person rate, but the booking was for a group of six. I booked the tour only to realize later that my walking tour cost 5x more than I thought. I assumed I was joining a group of other travelers, but nope, I booked for a group, which, of course, was just me. I’ll make sure to read the fine print next time.

With that said, I usually prefer to self-tour a destination and rarely want to go on group excursions. A lot of times, they are too touristy for me anyway. I found the Air B&B food tour experience to be my favorite activity to do in a new city. They welcome solo travelers without charging more and are always a great way to meet other travelers. You do run the risk of the tour being canceled if not enough people sign up, but I’d rather that than overpay!

Getting the Shot 

If you are photography-obsessed like me, this one can be really challenging- at first. I have mastered the art of solo travel photography, but don’t go on a trip where I don’t think- man, it would be so amazing to have someone to help carry some of this gear. 

My camera backpack, fully loaded, is an easy 25 to 30 pounds, so it gets tiring lugging it around, but I’d much rather do that than miss a photography opportunity!

Navigational Stress

Solo travelers may feel more stressed navigating unfamiliar places without a second opinion, I know I do. 

For anyone who is navigationally challenged, I recommend joining a group trip on your first few solo adventures. If you are easily frazzled with directions, solo travel might not be best for you. 

I didn’t learn how to read a map overnight, but with experience comes confidence, and even if I can’t understand where I am going, I know I’ll eventually find my way, so I never freak out if I get lost. I look at it as a part of the solo travel experience- it can lead you to places you didn’t know existed. But for some, struggling with directions and getting lost is a hard no.

Downloading offline maps (and offline languages) is key when traveling to a new city. I feel so much more confident knowing I’m not left to my best guess. There are ways to get around the navigation thing, such as hiring a driver and visiting a destination that speaks your native language.

Truth is, navigational challenges don’t discriminate. You can just as easily get lost in a pair as you can traveling solo; it just might make you feel better if you are lost with someone you know.

Companionship and Sharing Experiences

There are many experiences I have had that would have been better if I had shared them with someone special. And there are some experiences I no longer want to have because I know they will be more fun with a friend- like wine tasting or hitting up a local theme park.

Companionship and sharing experiences are valuable aspects of human interaction that can amplify positive feelings. Companionship provides emotional support during both joyful and challenging times and helps alleviate loneliness.

Life can be more difficult when you do not have a shoulder to lean on, but with travel, it’s temporary. You can choose how long to travel for or choose to be more open to meeting new people and making new connections. This can lead to forming meaningful connections and sharing experiences with a diverse range of people.

Regardless, I know I’d rather have the experience alone than not have it at all.

***

At the end of the day, I travel solo despite all of these things because I want to see the world. I love new experiences, trying new food, seeing unique places, broadening my horizons, and immersing in new cultures – it’s what makes me me.

Yes, there are many times I wish I had a perfect travel companion, but consider this:

Waiting for the perfect travel buddy is like waiting for a unicorn-riding leprechaun who speaks fluent dolphin. You might be in for a magical surprise, but why not create your own legendary tales in the meantime?

Half the battle is finding the right travel partner, but the other half is having the same schedule, wanting to go to the same places, enjoying the same activities, having the same budget, etc.

At the end of the day, if you can handle the woes of solo travel, get out there and see the world!

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Sam wearing backpack and hat walking through town.

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3 Comments

  1. “waiting for a unicorn-riding leprechaun who speaks fluent dolphin.” LOL!

    Great post. So relatable!

  2. Good post – spot on! Unicorn riding leprechaun…my personal favorite comparative.

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