Hey guys! As said before, this will be a new travel series called #This VS That whereby I will compare two common things about travelling and at the end of it, you will get a chance to vote for which option you prefer! :) First up on this series is as the title says, Travelling Alone VS Travelling in a group. There is plenty of debate going on about which is better and here is my take on it.
1. Making New Friends
I truly encourage you to stay at a hostel whilst travelling alone and if sleeping in a dormitory with strangers isn't an option for you or if you have the money to spare, you could still book a single bedroom in the hostel. I say this because this is the best way to meet new people and you'll be surprised by how many travellers you can meet from all around the world! Hang around the hostel lobby and speak to people. It may not be easy for some of us to do so but take up the courage to try as people in hostels have either had many experiences being approached by fellow travellers or is also a first-time solo traveller, wanting to speak to someone . Needless to say, it is often easier to approach someone else who is sitting alone as compared to those who are in groups. Alternatively, most hostels also offer Pub Crawls and this is probably the easiest way to make friends and have fun at the same time.
Strike up a basic conversation on where they're from, how long they'll be in town, any tips they have on the places they've been around town etc... If you get along well, you could even suggest to go around town together the next day or head to a specific tourist attraction together. Also, if they're from a country that's in your bucket list, don't forget to exchange your contact details like Facebook or email addresses so that when the time comes, you can ask for tips and advice and who knows, they might even offer up their extra room for you to stay for a small price!
2. Absolute Freedom
I would say that this is the best thing about travelling alone. You can do whatever you like, whenever you like! Feel like having a lay-in and only leave your room at 12pm? No problem! Feel like skipping the 4-hour queue to the museum cause you don't like reading all the information? Go ahead! There isn't anyone who will make a fuss about it. In other words, you have complete control of your itinerary.
Travel at your own pace and enjoy that flexibility that comes with it!
3. Personal Development
Most people associate solo travelling as a time for self-discovery and this is what society thinks of as well when you bring up the fact that you'll be travelling alone. In true fact, it is so much more than that! Yes, there is time for self-discovery but when you travel alone, you will face challenges and this helps you grow as a person. You become less reliant on others and you accomplish things you never thought you could. Confidence, reflection, independence are just a few to name the attributes you could develop.
4. An Experience to Remember
Solo-travelling often ends up with a story to share, be it about a fellow traveller you met or even something funny that happened to you. As you are on your own, you will often be more aware of your surroundings and notice things you normally wouldn't be able to with a group of friends.
5. Saving Money
In most cases, you save when you travel alone as it is easier to resist the temptation of going to a pricier restaurant. You may be the kind who appreciates and enjoys street food , which isn't something for everyone. I would say that the aspect in which you could save the most is through the flexibility of your flight timing and choice of accommodation as you only have to adjust to your own free days and not to that of multiple people.
It can get pretty lonely at times when you don't have your best buddy there with you, especially when something memorable happens, there is no one there to share the experience with. However, I would recommend you to be more proactive in those times. Go out, meet the locals and immerse yourself in the culture. The beauty of the city and the essence of the local heritage would get your mind off of it.
Safety is often a concern when travelling alone especially for women. But as a female solo traveller myself, the only thing you probably shouldn't do is explore the off-beaten paths during the wee hours of the day. If you do plan on exploring those paths, do your research beforehand and find out what others have to say. I would recommend you to follow more established routes and as you always would, don't dangle your belongings like an art exhibition. Keep your essentials out of sight and carry a fanny pack if you must.
3. Tripods & Selfie-Sticks Become Your Best Friends
Sadly, it's hard to get a good picture of yourself with the scenery when you're travelling alone. As a matter of fact, you are actually challenged to be more creative with your photos so that's a good thing! Think of ways how you could be part of the picture without having to actually be in (push the Pisa Tower with your finger, step on the Empire State Building). Alternatively, use a selfie-stick, tripod or even the self-timer setting if you want the picture in a specific angle, or ask someone else to help you take one. I usually look for those who carry DSLR's on them as they are more likely to take a better picture of you (like this shot I got in Pisa, it's a little pixelated but still does the trick!).
TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS
1. Less Daunting
It is definitely less scary with friends when you're in a new environment. You have a companion who is as lost as you and has the same worries as you about finding the accommodation etc.
2. Less Awkward
Whilst travelling with a group of friends, you are more likely to try out that restaurant recommended on Trip Advisor as you would on your own cause not everyone is comfortable eating on their own in such restaurants.
3. Creating Memories
Travelling with your friends can create amazing memories that you will cherish probably for the rest of your lives. In the future, you will be able to look back and talk about the silly things that happened in the trip or even about the laugh about the tiny worries that at the time seemed pretty big. Sharing this experience together is probably more valuable than the trip itself.
The companionship that comes with it is being able to do group activities such as partying together, renting a car or even complaining about the noisy neighbour in the hostel. You can also distribute the responsibility of way-finding and budget control etc.
5. Great Pictures
You have friends to take great pictures of you or your candid moments! Friends are definitely better than tripods and self-timers. By travelling in a group, you or your friends are able to capture some of those true moments of friendship, those caught off-guards, those in-between picture moments, the most genuine type of photos.
1. Test of Friendship
Spending time with someone for too long can sometimes stir up emotions that weren't there before. You can learn a lot about someone when you travel with them and sometimes, a conflict arises and you two find yourselves disagreeing with each other. How this affects your friendship after the trip is uncertain, but if you're going to go on a trip with someone, be prepared that you may end up splitting ways during the trip. & if you get through it, well it did nothing but strengthen your friendship :)
2. Living in A Bubble
Whilst travelling in a group, you are often in a bubble. You don't really open yourself up to the locals and thus, cannot fully immerse yourself in the local culture. This is often the case as you already have a group of friends there with you and this can sometimes act as barrier to the lifestyle present.
In my opinion, neither option is better than the other as they are both very different experiences. I would say that it's better to travel alone when it involves sightseeing of an established city or for the purpose of self-discovery. Whereas, it's much better to travel with friends if it involves activities and exploration. Which of the two do you prefer? Take a vote below! I will upload the results in the next post of #This VS That.