Why Solo Travel Doesn’t Work For Me

Posted on 30. Jun, 2011 by in Europe Travel

There are many different ways to travel. High class, in couples, backpack, tour groups, WOOFing, you name it. And then there’s solo travel.

It wasn’t something I was familiar with. I had never embarked on a solo journey before, but with all the different travel blogs writing on this sole subject, I figured I could give it a shot. If they could do it, so could I. I’m an independent young woman with a very-well developed system-D and an inner GPS. What could go wrong? And then my recent London trip came along. After carefully considering every aspect of my trip, I have come to a conclusion: I hate solo travel. Why?

Could I do that for a whole trip?

First: I’m a wuss

I used to be scareless. Maybe even careless. I didn’t mind walking home alone at night, or hop on night buses with my music banging in my earplugs. Nothing could ever happen to me, I thought. But then I started going out with my fiancé, and I let my guard down because I felt it was now his job to take care of me (I always felt his 6’4” frame was convincing) and carry my luggage. But the minute I step foot in a city by myself, I started to feel insecure, even though I knew it like the back of my hand. What was happening to me? Was solo travel freezing my brain out?

Second: I suck at auto portraits

Now for some that might not be a proper reason to not travel solo, but for me it is - I love taking photos, obviously, but I also like to be in them from time to time. And it takes over 3 or 4 takes to get a good shot, I just give up and go home without my precious souvenir. And why is it that when you ask someone on the street, no matter how many different takes they do, the end result always suck?

Third: I have to share my enjoyment with someone

I like to act like a little kid when I travel. Being in awe at everything. Noticing small and quirky details. Not having high expectations. Getting over-excited at the sight of ice cream. You know how kids jump around and make high-pitched noises when they are truly excited? I do exactly the same. You should have seen me the first time I saw Big Ben! But all this amazement does not quite cut it for me when I can’t share it with anyone. Traveling is one of the greatest way to forge souvenirs for the rest of your life, that only you and that other person will share. I just couldn’t see myself having all these souvenirs for my own enjoyment only.

Another reason why I thought that solo travel didn’t quite did the trick is because that I have such a good chemistry with my fiancé that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by traveling with him - I always end up doing what I had planned in the first place (is it chemistry or is he too soft? I’d rather not know).

Maybe I should give solo travel another chance. But I just don’t think it’s ever going to work for me. I enjoy picking in my fiancé’s plate to taste another local meal. I enjoy holding his hand during a exploratory night walk. I enjoy taking cheesy couple snaps for our family. I enjoy randomly saying “Oh yeah remember this time in….”. Really, I’m a couple travel kinda gal, not a solo travel. And maybe it’s just because I’ve gotten so used to travel with my him, and because travel is such an important part of our history as a couple… but really, I cannot fathom the thought of traveling without him in the future. We never complete each other more than when on a trip.

There was one upside, though: no one tried to steal my ice cream cone(s).

The infamous fiancé (AKA the cone stealer)

How do you travel? What are your biggest challenges? How do you cope?

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11 Responses to “Why Solo Travel Doesn’t Work For Me”

  1. Katherina

    03. Jul, 2011

    I understand your points… and agree, most of the time (specially when it comes to sharing with someone else your excitement!). I haven’t been traveling solo mid or long term, only on weekend trips… and although I’ve had my fun, I think the experience would have been greater if I could have shared it.
    Btw. I also suck at auto-portraits (well, I usually just suck in general when it comes to me posing in a picture)… I should work on that.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie

      03. Jul, 2011

      Yeah that’s exactly what I meant - my trip didn’t suck, but I feel it would’ve been better if I was with someone.

      Reply to this comment
  2. tom

    04. Jul, 2011

    As someone who has done a lot of solo travel even at the young age of 18 I tend to agree with your points. Whilst I had an excellent time and am happy to travel solo the biggest thing for me is not being able to share it with a loved one or just a best mate.

    You end up sharing such magical moments with complete strangers which then makes it harder to relive those moments later on in your life :)

    Reply to this comment
  3. Michael Hodson

    04. Jul, 2011

    Awww, sorry you don’t like it. It is my favorite way to travel. If you limit yourself to only traveling with others, you are putting some of your life and travels on their agenda. If no one wants to go to Paris… no Paris for you. And so on and so forth. Soooo easy to meet fellow travelers and such for company (and photos) in hostels these days. Hope you give it another try.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Marie

    04. Jul, 2011

    @tom: you have a good point. traveling solo makes it easy to connect with strangers and create an around the world address book. Maybe I should think of the potential advantages of traveling solo instead of its downsides! :P

    @Michael Hodson: I will definitely give another try in the future. Once is not always, as they say :)

    Reply to this comment
  5. hogga

    04. Jul, 2011

    Aww I understand that - I always made new friends where I went on the road, so it made me feel less alone. But after a few months I was sick of making new friends and craved the familiar. I would do solo again in a heartbeat, but I totally get where you’re coming from.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Gray

    05. Jul, 2011

    Hmm…I’m not sure your title is quite accurate, Marie. It’s not that you can’t travel solo, it’s that you don’t want to. And that’s okay. Not everybody does. Most of your reasons make sense to me; I can see why someone might feel that way. The only one of your points that worries me a little bit is the first. If you’re losing your self-confidence about being alone in a place because you’re used to your BF always watching your back, you might want to reconsider taking a solo weekend to yourself somewhere once in awhile to regain it. Confidence in your ability to stand on your own two feet in any circumstance is something you should never willingly give up.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Annie

    13. Jul, 2011

    I haven’t traveled solo yet but I know that I will, at least for a short trip. But I have to agree with you on this stuff. Mostly that I have to have someone to share my excitement with, it’s just not cool when you have no one to talk about it with!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Catherine

    26. Oct, 2012

    I had a solo trip to London last week for work. Luckily I managed to fit in quite a bit of site-seeing as well, but I absolutely, 100% agree with what you said here.

    I met great people and saw many things, but somehow I feel as though I cheated because my husband wasn’t there. No photo will ever convey the awesomeness of the Harry Potter studio tour, or seeing Tower Bridge and Big Ben lit up at night!

    I’ve also wondered about my safety in a foreign city traveling on my own, and many times sent a message home letting him know where I am going and by what time I expect to be back home!

    Your post resonated very strongly with me, thank you for making me feel less guilty about not wanting to travel alone!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      I’m glad you share my opinion! I’ve kept on experiencing with solo travel, and it still isn’t my favorite option.

      Reply to this comment

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