Solo travel: Disadvantages of travelling alone

sitting alone for sunset - one of the disadvantages of travelling alone

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There are over 649 million searches on solo travel, and believe it or not, only a few of those pages discuss the disadvantages of travelling alone. Typically speaking, most of those pages will be helping people to find tips and tricks on HOW to travel by themselves instead of talking about the negatives. We already know the benefits of travelling solo so now it’s time to see the other side.

Exploring the world is on many people’s to-do lists, but not everyone puts that plan into action. Especially if they can’t find someone to travel with.

Unfortunately in the working world, not everybody can get the same time off to go away together. This has caused more and more people to take the plunge and dive headfirst into solo travel.

This has created a surge in people wanting to know what disadvantages there are when it comes to travelling solo and exploring the world alone. I want to break down some points below to help you prepare for the expected feelings, situations and scenarios that you’ll likely (but not definitely) face when you head out on your own solo journey.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover you if something bad happens. One company I have personal experience with is Safety Wing. Not everyone needs the same coverage, so make sure you get a personalised quote that suits you and your trip plans.

When you need to transfer money or check exchange rates during your overseas trip, consider using Wise. They have competitive rates and make exchanging foreign funds easy. I’ve been using them since 2015.

Before you are (potentially) put off going on your dream trip because of these disadvantages, make sure to check out these posts on why you 100% should still go:

walking home alone at night is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone

You are more at risk

As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers. When you start travelling alone you are putting yourself at risk as there will be nobody to have your back if there is an issue.

Maybe you have to distance yourself from someone giving off stalker vibes. Or maybe someone won’t take no for an answer. Perhaps you get lost and end up finding your way through a dangerous neighbourhood.

Whatever the situation is, you’ll have to work it out yourself. Truth is, not everyone is kindhearted, so when you travel solo, you’re putting yourself in potential harm’s way.

Top tips for keeping yourself safe:

  • Never be too trusting of anybody.
  • Don’t get overly intoxicated.
  • Remember it’s ok to say “No”
  • Always plan your route ahead of time.
  • Avoid getting your valuables out in the street.
  • Avoid using the same route every time – change it up.

One way to stay safe is to make sure you are always connected and able to reach help if you need it. By getting an eSIM you will have the ability to download it straight to your device for instant use. Just avoid using your phone out in public too often.

comparison of prices between solo vs pair of travellers

It can be more expensive

One of the overlooked disadvantages of travelling alone is it can sometimes be more expensive than travelling in a pair or with a group. This is because there is nobody to split costs with.

Generally speaking, accommodations often have assumed double occupancy prices. This means that hotels expect most people to travel in at least a pair so they charge their rooms accordingly. When you travel on your own, you are still expected to pay the same price for the room whether you have a second person to split it with or not.

Luckily for us, hostels normally charge by the bed rather than the room so it’ll cost you personally the same amount whether you are alone or with a friend. The best way to find hostel accommodation is through HostelWorld. Plus, they’re one of the best ways to meet new people!

sitting alone disadvantages of travelling alone

You can get lonely

Although you might notice loneliness more if you are an extrovert, it’s true that anybody can feel lonely. A huge disadvantage to travelling alone is just that, being alone. It’s ok for a few days here and there, but if you’re on a gap year or a long-term travel journey it can feel isolating to spend large portions of your time without anybody you know.

When you’re away from loved ones for a long period of time, you’re much more likely to experience homesickness. If you don’t find ways to handle your homesickness then it can really affect your trip.

Some of the best ways to beat lonely thoughts are to step out of your comfort zone and try to meet new people. Maybe you want somebody to do the next part of your journey with for a bit of companionship. Well, there are also ways to find a travel partner in this day and age. Plus, when staying in hostels and joining tour groups, you’ll easily find more people to spend time with.

thought cloud that reads "I'm nervous"

It can be scary

If you’re new to travelling, it can be daunting heading to a far off land by yourself. There will no doubt be times on your trip when you’re nervous due to being in an unknown environment. When all you’ve known is your consistent routine at home, it can seem overwhelming to take on this new adventure by yourself.

You can help yourself by doing research about the places you are going in advance. By knowing what a place is like ahead of time you can better understand what to expect.

If a place has any strict rules to follow or cultural considerations to be aware of, you’ll know about them before you arrive. This can help lessen the culture shock and hopefully make you feel a little less scared.

Over time, you’ll get more comfortable with being in new places alone and you’ll wonder what you were ever so afraid of!

Check out: Honest disadvantages of a gap year & 13 downsides to travelling for a long time

Harder to take the perfect picture

Let’s face it, it’s the era of social media so it’s likely you’ll want to take photos. Whether you want photos to post online or just some to keep as memories, you’ll snap some. When you travel on your own it’ll be harder to get those amazing travel photos. This can often make you miss out on having a photo of you with a stunning landscape or amazing new sights.

This means that you’ll need to get creative. If there are no people around to ask to take your photo, you have two choices, find a way to take them yourself or don’t take any at all.

But rather than miss out, you can either lean your phone or camera against something, use selfie sticks or use a tripod. This way, you’ll still be able to get those beautiful travel images of yourself without needing to rely on a stranger!

In the image on the right of me on the EEOR trail in the rocky mountains, I used my tripod. Look at how much better the framing of the mounting is compared to my terrible selfie on the left.

laying tired in bed

It can be tiring

When you only have yourself for company it can be lonely, but constantly trying to make friends can be just as tiring. When you’re in a position where you don’t know anybody, you often need to step out of your comfort zone and make some effort.

Yes, it’s easy to make friends but constantly trying to get to know people and remembering little things about them takes quite a lot of energy. Plus, you’ll probably find you accept most offers and invitations to join groups, tours and activities which means you’re on-the-go nonstop.

How to handle this:

  • Make time to relax and do nothing once in a while.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no from time to time.
  • Invest in a sleep mask & earplugs so you can get a good sleep – even if only a few hours.

tissue box and hot drink during sickness

No one to care for you if you get sick

Let’s imagine you’re away for an entire year and you end up unwell from the seasonal flu. Even though it’s not serious, you can still feel very under the weather. When travelling alone you won’t have anybody to take care of you while you’re feeling sick. I don’t know about you, but I often feel worse if I have to battle a sickness alone.

This could be one of the worst disadvantages of travelling alone if you end up with a serious injury or health concern but long-term travel insurance can certainly help with that. It might not make you feel better in the short term like a friend could, but it can certainly relieve some of the stress of being unwell overseas when you know the insurance will cover the financial aspect.

Take a look at why you should consider backpackers travel insurance for your trips.

wall of postcards and memories - disadvantages of travelling alone means you can't share memories

Your memories will be yours alone

Whether it be an inside joke, a funny memory or an amazing experience. There won’t be anyone to reminisce about it with. When travelling alone you have to understand that one of the disadvantages will be not sharing memories with people.

Don’t get me wrong, you will always meet people and make friends along the way but it’s unlikely you’ll share the same memory with someone during every moment of the adventure. But don’t look at it as a bad thing! I can honestly say, some of my favourite travel memories here when I was alone overseas.

silhouette in the sunset of friends

It can be harder to create close friendships

Ok, so this one depends on your travel style. If you are just moving abroad for a working holiday for example and planning on staying with a home base, then this is less relevant.

However, if you are travelling alone and heading to multiple destinations then you could struggle to make close friends.

This is because when you are constantly moving around, you don’t get to interact with the same people for long periods or on a regular basis. Yes, you’ll make lots of friends, but you’ll be saying goodbye to them too when your trips head in opposite directions. Will they be your closest confidants after 2 weeks of travelling together? Maybe, but it’s not guaranteed.

wall painted with the words "I'm missing out"

You might miss out on some things

One thing I’ve found as a solo traveller is that some tour companies will not run excursions if they have less than a minimum number of people. For example, you might be hoping to go on a whale tour, however, there are only you and two other guests.

Since there are fewer than 5 people, the tour doesn’t go ahead and you are refunded your money. Yes, it’s good you’re not out of pocket, but if you’re not in the area for very long, you might run out of time to go on the tour if they don’t go ahead. This means you might miss out on experiences because you’re not travelling in a group.

Pro tip: It’s often worth calling tour companies and asking if they have any dates in your visit range that are guaranteed to go ahead. Make your plan based on what’s guaranteed.

If you need to find tours and activities in your destination, the two sites I recommend the most are Viator & GetYourGuide. Viator seems to have more location coverage including less touristy destinations, but GetYourGuide is often competitive on price!

Final thoughts on the disadvantages of travelling alone

Tired of the negatives? Have a read of these inspiring solo travel quotes to remind you why solo travel is liberating.

Travelling alone is something I believe everyone should experience at least once in their life regardless of these disadvantages above. Whether you opt to go away for just a quick weekend of TLC or whether you dive right in and do a year-long working holiday or gap year, see how you get on with solo travel.

I never intend to put people off with my posts, but instead, offer some advice from someone who has had first-hand experience.

Is there anything else that would put you off travelling solo? Let me know in the comments!

Need help planning your trip?

Check out how to plan a trip abroad & see my travel resources for more.

WayAway – Great for booking flights. They even have a cashback feature for those who fly frequently.
Skyscanner – A comprehensive comparison website showing where to purchase flights.
HostelWorld – The biggest selection of hostels & sociable accommodations.
Booking.com – The largest collection of accommodations worldwide.

Safety Wing – A travel insurance brand for long-term travellers and nomads.

Airalo – An eSIM card company that lets you stay connected during your trip.
Wise – Perfect for transferring foreign currencies.
iVisa – For applying for tourist and visitor visas.

Viator – Great for finding tours and activities worldwide.
Get Your Guide – Another company for finding activities.
Klook – Have some of the best activity deals in Asia.

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