Emerald Beach, NSW, Australia, Dan

10 Downsides of Solo Travel Nobody Mentions

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Travelling solo is one of the best things that you can do. It will teach you so much about yourself and take you out of your comfort zone in so many ways.

I’ve travelled solo to almost all of the 60+ countries I have been to. I spent most of my time travelling by myself although I do sometimes have friends and family join me for short stints and very occasionally I will do a short tour. 

For all the fantastic things about solo travel, of course there are some negatives that go along with it.

The 10 Negatives of Solo Travel

No one to double check your itinerary 

Whilst solo travel is great, if you make a mistake with it, you’re on your own. I recently had a flight which I’m sure was due to depart at 2pm from Singapore. I planned a leisurely morning, hoping to check out the Jewel at the airport as well. It was only when I got out the shower just after 10am that I realised I had it all wrong and the plane actually departed at 12pm.

Luckily I made the flight, but if someone else is with you and helping to plan flights and itineraries, there is that extra set of eyes to make sure you have the correct time and dates for your flights.

No one to look after your bags when you go to the toilet

Unfortunately, another major downside of solo travel is having to look after your belongings at all times. 

I would love to be able to just be in an airport or bus station and leave my bag and keep my seat whilst I go to the toilet or go and get a snack, but when you’re on your own, it’s just not possible to do that.

That means taking your bag to the toilet with you which is far from ideal even though I pack light.

Dan with digital nomad backpack
They are coming with me wherever I go

There’s no one to depend on when you’re by yourself

You have to trust your gut when you’re by yourself. There isn’t anyone to ask if you’re going the right way. I think this road is safe to walk down, or this taxi driver seems legitimate. Or is it? Would an extra gut feel help you decide.

No one to help when you get sick

Fortunately for me, this hasn’t happened often whilst I’ve been travelling but it has still happened. 

You’re sick. Your head hurts. Your stomach is about to explode. You don’t want to leave your bed. But you have to. You need water or food. Or your medicine. It would be great if someone was there just to bring you those things when you feel that bad but when you’re by yourself, its only you that is going to do it.

Safety in numbers

You’re walking to your accommodation at night. With two of you, its easy and you can have each others back.

But by yourself, no matter how safe you may feel, you will always be an easier target if there are some nasty people about. Travelling in a group may mean you let your guard down too much, but I had found that groups of 2 or 3 are safest to travel in.

Making decisions by yourself

One of the positives of solo travel is that I get to make the decisions of where I go, when I go there and what to do when I am there. The freedom is incredible.

But sometimes, you’re tired and you don’t want to make that decision anymore. I don’t want to decide if that restaurant looks safe to eat it or am I getting a good deal on that souvenir. With a second person making that decision for you, it can reduce the decision fatigue that may set in if you’re on the road for a while.

Solo travel, Dan
Any idea where I’m going?

Having someone to talk to

Travelling by myself and having a fully remote job means that I can sometimes go days without talking to anyone. I may say hello and thank you in a supermarket or coffee shop but having a proper conversation face to face? It might be days or even weeks between when that happens.

I still communicate with friends and family back home or people I have met on the road, but that is text based, either WhatsApp or messenger. With work colleagues it is text based messaging software or a zoom call. But having a deep and meaningful conversation face to face… sometimes it doesn’t happen for a while.

Having to plan it all my yourself

I love travel planning. I love being on Skyscanner looking for flights across the globe or reading travel blogs about the exciting things to do in my next destination. However, the few times I have travelled with someone else and they have planned something, its been bliss.

Me and a friend travelled to Japan for the rugby World Cup. He had been to Japan the year before so knew a lot about it. He could guide me, buy train tickets and recommend places to eat. Because I didn’t have to think, it felt like a relaxing holiday for me! I was in his capable hands which made my experience so much better.

Never having a decent photo of yourself

I have literally thousands of photos on my phone, camera and GoPro that I’ve travelled with over the years. But a majority of those photos are of landscapes or buildings, interspersed with the occasional selfie.

Unless you’re bringing your own tripod and can set a camera to take photos intermittently or on a timer, it’s unlikely you’ll get many good photos of yourself in the amazing places that you go to. As for asking others to take the photos for you, I’ve had mixed results but it never turns out as well as planned.

This is about as good as I got

Saying goodbye

Solo travel is never truly solo. You meet so many incredible people all the time. From random people in bars, to eclectic taxi drivers, to friends in coworking spaces, to fascinating characters in hostels, to work colleagues you bond with overtime, to short term housemates, to incredible people you meet on tours.

And then you say goodbye.

You or they will leave and you’ll have to say goodbye. Sometimes you’ll chat again and sometimes see each other in another country or maybe even another continent years later. But often you just say goodbye knowing that you won’t see them again. And that sucks.

Summing up downsides to solo travel

Whilst there are countless pro’s of travelling solo there are obviously some downsides that need to be spoken about. Many people glamourise solo travel and rightly so because it can be amazing, but a dose of realism needs to be added so that people know some of the downsides of solo travel.

I think a lot of what is mentioned here will depend on your personality. Are you a strong independent introvert that is ok not talking much with a strong gut feeling? You’ll be fine. Are you a social extrovert that gets anxious at being left alone in an unfamiliar place? Maybe taking a friend will be more beneficial to you.

Either way, I believe that its important that everyone should travel solo at least once in their life as its an opportunity for personal growth and despite these downsides of solo travel I’ve listed, there are still so many great reasons to go alone!

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3 thoughts on “10 Downsides of Solo Travel Nobody Mentions

  1. Thanks for the great article Dan. I’m recently retired and just returned from a Bahamas cruise to three islands and had a great time traveling solo. There’s definitely lots of pros and cons to traveling solo, but pretty sure the pros outweigh the cons.

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