Travel is increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives. We see it depicted on the TV, hear about our friends going to far-flung vacation spots, and can't go into a bookstore without being greeted by a wall of destination guides and maps. The world becomes more globalized every day, and it's true that there's a new pressure to become a "global citizen."
Whether you're planning a trip for the fun of it, for work, or to add some new experience to your resume, you will come across this inevitable situation: going alone or going with others. Some people won't even consider traveling solo, and that's fine. However, if you're on the fence about it, here are some questions to ask yourself before you book that ticket.
#1.) What is it I want to do?
Are you traveling to see temples and ancient sites? Do you have to be in a city for a week due to a work assignment? Do you want to meet people from all walks of life and party with them at night? Defining what you want (or have) to do while abroad can help you decide if you want to bring anyone with you. Your friends hate history but you want to hit up all the museums? It might be better to go alone so you can enjoy the Louvre in peace.
#2.) How do I deal with loneliness?
It's true that life on the road can get lonely, especially for solo travelers. Even if you're only going for a short period of time, knowing how you cope with loneliness is important to deciding what kind of travel experience you want. However, even traveling alone, you can meet all kinds of people on your travels--it's just a matter of putting in a little bit more effort.
#3.) Are these memories I'll want to share with someone else?
Always wanted to see Rome with your dad, who adores the "home country?" Can't think of going to Thailand without your adventurous posse? Knowing that the destination you're going to is important to others is a big factor in deciding to go alone or not. Would Dad be disappointed if he didn't join you? And more importantly, would YOU be disappointed?
#4.) Do I have the confidence?
It's intimidating to travel alone--not gonna lie. You can feel as though you don't know anything, or that you don't have enough bravery to do it. While courage and self-confidence grows along with your memories the longer you travel, it is important to know if you feel prepared to go at it solo or not. Hopeless reading a map and don't even want to try? Hate talking to strangers would rather figure things out on your own? You may be better off traveling with a buddy to fill in the gaps of your experience/knowledge. Or, at least, when you get lost, you'll get lost together.
#5.) Do I have the funds for this?
When you travel with someone else, you often split the costs. Hotel/hostel rooms, meals at restaurants, groceries to cook with, cars or boats or trolley tickets... When you travel alone, all these expenses fall solely on you. Conversely, know that it can be cheaper traveling alone--you don't have to plan for two people or throw caution to the wind when your friend asks you if you want to go skydiving (the day after you splurged on a snorkeling trip).
Overall, only you can decide if you think a solo trip will be more beneficial and fun than one taken with other people. While I think it's important to travel alone (but perhaps I'm biased, because it's virtually all I do), for some people, it's not the best option. Consider these questions, dig deep into yourself, and soon you'll be able to decide if you want to see that Roman coliseum with Dad--or not.
I'd love to answer your travel questions! Ask me anything you'd like to know about solo travel in the comments below.
Kayla Maneen recently got her BFA in Creative Writing and minored in adventure and fun. After graduation, she worked on an organic farm in Ireland and taught English in Italy, and learned all there is to know about chasing sheep and eating long, leisurely meals with family. She is adamant about teens living out their passions and reaching their highest potentials. Always follow that fire in your heart!