Why Travel Solo If You Don’t Have To?

by Gray Cargill on August 31, 2010

It’s no secret to anyone reading this blog that I started out as a solo traveler by necessity.  I didn’t have anyone else to travel with, and my options were a) travel alone or b) don’t travel.  I decided travel was important to me, so I decided to go alone. Surprise–I now love solo travel.  My guess is most people who are married and/or have children wouldn’t dream of traveling solo (except for work), but perhaps they should.   I am very pleased to introduce today’s guest blogger, Brian Searl, who explores some reasons why solo travel is an idea worth considering even for those with families.

Tulum

Go solo. . . .

Why travel solo?

It’s a question that many of us ask ourselves. For many it can even be described as a fear. Why should we travel alone when we can experience the world with friends, family or our children?

I won’t presume to know your reason for traveling.  Everyone is different and everyone has a different reason for wanting to see the world.  Any attempt to categorize everyone into a few small groups would be a mistake and one that I’m not prepared to make.  Only you can know your own personal reasons but one can assume that those reasons are born of a basic understanding of travel itself.

To be sure there are plenty of advantages to traveling with friends, a partner or even a larger group. When you get back you have someone who understands the experience you just shared. Perhaps you travel in larger groups for the discounts or travel with your children to open their eyes to new and exciting cultures.  I’m certainly not advocating that you stop. What I am saying is. . .why not do both?

There are several old adages that in one way or another advise you that you need to get away from time to time. Your doctor may have even recommended a vacation for the improvement of your health. Pause for a moment to consider what “getting away from it all” really means though.  Taking a vacation with your family is getting away from work, sure, but is it getting away from everything?

The purists out there will say that there is no better way to experience a destination than to explore it by yourself. They’ll say it’s easier to meet locals because you are more approachable then you are if you are a couple. They’ll say that sitting alone in a bar or cafe makes you more likely to start a conversation with a local. They aren’t wrong.

Consider the structure of a family vacation: There is no sleeping in because the children will be up bright and early waiting to experience the next attraction. Where you go is decided by the entire family and typically planned weeks in advance to avoid last minute confusion.  That alone limits the possible adventures. It almost instantly removes the ability to be spontaneous.

Families at Epcot

. . .or with family?

An argument can be made that structure is one of the ways to be a tourist, but not a traveler. That’s an argument I won’t delve into during this article but one you should consider. Waking up in the morning in a distant country without an alarm clock or children jumping on the bed allows you to appreciate your surroundings in greater detail.  There is no need to rush through things because the children have to be fed at a certain time or breaking away from a tour to find a bathroom in the middle of a remote area.

There is of course nothing wrong with making these types of compromises in our daily life. In and of themselves they can be quite rewarding and nothing (in my opinion) can top the experience of sharing a place with your child for the first time.  I’m not a solo traveler by trade but I have taken solo vacations.  I’ve seen both sides of the fence.

There are advantages to both lifestyles, advantages to both types of travel.  Which one you choose is entirely up to you.  I won’t presume to offer advice on which is best for you.  The advice I will give is quite simple:

Regardless of who you travel with and regardless of how you travel, the most important thing is that you take time to savor your destination.  If you can do that with your family then more power to you.  Before you decide which type of travel is best for you, though, take the time to experience both.

You just might be surprised at how different they truly are.

Brian Searl

Brian Searl is the founder and CEO of InsiderPerks.com. Combining his passion for broadcasting and knowledge of travel, Brian launched Insider Perks in March of 2009 as the first travel website to focus on professionally produced unbiased travel videos.  The site features over 2,000 travel videos from over 200 destinations around the world in addition to complete travel guides, news, blogs, social media integration and much more.

Brian still visits most of the locations filmed for Insider Perks to personally oversee the production of each series of videos and also routinely travels outside of work which gives him extensive and unique insight into travel, which he has shared a part of in today’s post.

It’s a question that many of us ask ourselves. For many it can even be described as a fear. Why should we travel alone when we can experience the world with friends, family or our children?

I won’t presume to know your reason for traveling.  Everyone is different and everyone has a different reason for wanting to see the world.  Any attempt to categorize everyone into a few small groups would be a mistake and one that I’m not prepared to make.  Only you can know your own personal reasons but one can assume that those reasons are born of a basic understanding of travel itself.

To be sure there are plenty of advantages to traveling with friends, a partner or even a larger group. When you get back you have someone who understands the experience you just shared. Perhaps you travel in larger groups for the discounts or travel with your children to open their eyes to new and exciting cultures.  I’m certainly not advocating that you stop. What I am saying is why not do both?

There are several old adages that in one way or another advise you that you need to get away from time to time. Your doctor may have even recommended a vacation for the improvement of your health. Pause for a moment to consider what “getting away from it all” really means though.  Taking a vacation with your family is getting away from work sure, but is it getting away from everything?

The purists out there will say that there is no better way to experience a destination than to explore it by yourself. They’ll say it’s easier to meet locals because you are more approachable then you are if you are a couple. They’ll say that sitting alone in a bar or cafe makes you more likely to start a conversation with a local. They aren’t wrong.

Consider the structure of a family vacation. There is no sleeping in because the children will be up bright and early waiting to experience the next attraction. Where you go is decided by the entire family and typically planned weeks in advance to avoid last minute confusion.  That alone limits the possible adventures. It almost instantly removes the ability to be spontaneous.

An argument can be made that structure is one of the ways to be a tourist, but not a traveler. That’s an argument I won’t delve into during this article but one you should consider. Waking up in the morning in a distant country without an alarm clock or children jumping on the bed allows you to appreciate your surroundings in greater detail.  There is no need to rush through things because the children have to be fed at a certain time or breaking away from a tour to find a bathroom in the middle of a remote area.

There is of course nothing wrong with making these types of compromises in our daily life. In and of themselves they can be quite rewarding and nothing (in my opinion) can top the experience of sharing a place with your child for the first time.  I’m not a solo traveler by trade but I have taken solo vacations.  I’ve seen both sides of the fence.

There are advantages to both lifestyles, advantages to both types of travel.  Which one you choose is entirely up to you.  I won’t presume to offer advice on which is best for you.  The advice I will give is quite simple.

Regardless of who you travel with and regardless of how you travel, the most important thing is that you take time to savor your destination.  If you can do that with your family then more power to you.  Before you decide which type of travel is best for you though, take the time to experience both.

You just might be surprised at how different they truly are.

redman123 February 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

never liked to travel alone

Helen September 6, 2010 at 10:00 pm

When you travel by yourself it really is fun as you move a bit out of your comfort zone and tend to interact with other people more rather than sticking with your known companions. being around others who see things differently than you do also gives you a different take on the world.

GRRRLTRAVELER September 5, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Good article, Brian. I agree also. I’m a big believer that balance is necessary & experiencing both sides of the fence adds dimension to your travel history. I’m fairly new to some solo traveling experiences and it’s been wonderfully empowering and liberating. But finding a great travel bffs is wonderful as well. You can still meet people if you’re both open to it, have your own time to explore things apart, but it’s nice to be able share experiences as you said… to laugh and make fun of yourselves as you’re experiencing something for the first time!

Brian Searl September 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for the support, both ways have their benefits and its important to see it from both sides of the table 🙂

Brian Searl September 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm

It is very amazing to experience a destination on your own and I did quite a bit of solo travel when I was younger and still enjoy it from time to time. When you have kids and a family things change though and its almost for the better. The destination changes so much when you experience it again with family a second time around.

Brian Searl September 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Thanks for the support.. I think its important for people to see both sides of the fence. I might need to forward the article to my own family as well 🙂

Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I like the balance that Brian provides here. Why not enjoy both types of travel if you can? Travel sometimes with family or friends, and sometimes alone. The best of all worlds!

Luke September 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Couldn’t agree more!

There are pros and cons to travelling solo or otherwise but in the end it’s those things that help you to make the most out of your trip that make the difference. Somethings are appreciate better when in good company, and vice-versa.

Lisa E September 1, 2010 at 11:02 am

Great post…and I agree with you. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to this (have done most trips solo) and have met a lot of locals this way and had some of the most amazing experiences. When with a friend or boyfriend, it’s nice, but just not the same. I think there’s something empowering and liberating about going on your own!

Connie Hum August 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Excellent piece, thanks so much for spelling out the pros and cons of traveling solo and with others. I should send this to my friends and family so that they can understand a bit better why I left my job 2 years ago and have been traveling around the world ever since!

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