The virtues of doing so have been glamourised- finding yourself, absolute freedom, meeting amazing people, falling in love. Sounds absolutely wonderful right? It tempts even the most homebody, group-loving souls to grab their passports and catch the first flight out to start their solo adventure.
Well, I've been there, done that, and I really don't think traveling solo is all it is made out to be and here's why.
1. Lost photo ops. When travelling alone and wanting to be part of a photo, the solo traveler has several options:
ONE: Take a selfie. Result- big face and small background. Something like this. Not too pretty.
|That's me at Tian An Men Square on a stormy day|
THREE: Search the area for a person who hopefully will not run away with your camera, look friendly and approach said person to take photo, try to pose in a non-awkward manner, hope the person is decent at taking photos. Most of the time, they aren't. Result- Lost photo ops like these.
|Random stranger probably thought the shadows were beautiful|
|Sigh. The only photo of the Lady Liberty and I...|
|Forever chained to my luggage|
4. Strange bed/seat-fellows. There have been too many times I have had to sit next to inconsiderate people who seem to spill over onto my already tiny economy class seat, resulting in terribly unbearable flights. Thankfully, I'm small. But it gets worse when they insist on talking to you with their mouthful of bad breath. Yup, too many unfortunate solo flights. And then there are the strange people you have to share a room with at hostels. I agree that some may be pretty cool. I've had the benefit of meeting a Syrian refugee in Armenia and a climate change activist in China, but my list of cool people I've met at hostels is pretty short, compared to the number of hostel roommates who are noisy, smelly, hostile, or just plain unfriendly. In those times, I always remember that some people travel solo for a reason. Maybe they just don't like other people, or maybe other people just don't like them.
5. Facing the big, bad scary world together. Like the night my best friend and I were hopelessly lost in a residential neighborhood in China with no taxis, or any other public transport in sight, even after walking for an hour, apart from a boat operator promising to take us back to civilization on a boat that did not even have any lights on it. Getting on the boat, we were convinced that we would end up as illegal immigrants somewhere 3 weeks later. But at least we were together.
|The dodgy boat. My nervous hands don't take very good photos|
6. Finally, I think everyone would agree, that any travel adventure is always a gazillion times more incredible when shared with people you love.
With all that said, every opportunity to travel is a privilege. So go forth and explore!