I don’t think I have talked about Solo Vs Group travel before I arrived in Australia. It is the famous question among backpackers is it better to travel on your own or with people?
I have traveled both ways. I went to the Dominican Republic on my own and met up with people I had never met before when I got there. I went around Europe on the trains with my friends and I went around South East Asia on my own. I have done most of my Australia travel with people as well. I don’t think one is better then the other but I do think that both make you a better traveler.
Why Solo Travel?
Solo travel helps you build your confidence. You have to make the move or start up a conversation to meet people in hostels. There were a few points in South East Asia were I felt I was a stuck record and I was just saying my name and everywhere I had just been on repeat. But once you have the whole introduction done you can usually tell with in a few minuets if people are looking to make friends or not. I did have one guy tell me he didn’t want to talk to anyone, I respected his bluntness and left him alone…so yeah don’t be to offended when you meet people who just are burnt out. I met some incredible people when I was traveling on my own. I have kept in contact with them and met up with them when ever they are in Australia. Some people you meet and actually bump into them again which is always nice. You cant beat seeing a friendly face in a foreign country. Being on your own you do become a independent and better traveler. You do not have anyone but yourself to rely on. You become very aware of your surroundings and making sure you are safe. All your travel arrangements and research is done by yourself which in turn makes you a savvy back packer. I have only ever had one experience when I did not feel safe on my own in Kuala Lumpur. A man was following me and would not leave me alone. I used my common sense and went into a shopping center with lots of people around and found the information desk. As soon as I approached the desk the man backed off into the crowd and waited for me. I told the lady behind the desk the man behind me was following me and she said to wait with her until he left. The woman behind the desk pretended to get a map out and point to things. When the man finally had enough of waiting for me he left and I went straight back to the hostel. I tried not to be affected by this but it did freak me out and i did not really relax in KL. I just used common sense and would never go out on my own at night or go to dodgy areas….do you research on where you are going. Things go wrong when you are back packing and when you are going solo you just have to adapt and sort something out…it makes you more resilient and adaptable to all situations. When you do join a group of travelers for a day trip or for a few days you also become a lot more open to all sorts of people cos you miss the human contact and enjoy having some company. I did 3 days in Singapore and no one was friendly at all in my hostel and I didn’t meet anyone. When I went back to Thailand after those 3 days I was so excited to speak to people in my hostel and hang out with humans and have some conversation. Solo travel is a great way to find out how much you will push yourself. I really built up a lot of confidence on my solo travel trips and I became comfortable at putting myself out there to meet others. It does sound so cliche to say solo travel really helps you realize who you are but its true.
Why travel with friends?
Traveling with your friends just creates the best and funniest memories you will make. Even the times when you travel and fall out or get on each others nerves will turn into a funny memory. Solo traveling is great to find yourself and realize what you are capable of by pushing those boundaries, but traveling with your friends just has the best buzz. I did Europe with my oldest friend from America and we still to this day talk about that trip and all the crazy stories that go a long with it. I did the East Coast of Australia with my two best friends from the UK and neither of them had ever back packed before. A few times it was very intense but also one of the best trips we have ever done together. I was glad I got to show them the backpacking way. They both really embraced it and when something was not what they expected they really just got on with it. MK and I have done lots of little trips away and had our holiday to Fiji but in September we will do our first bit of traveling. I am excited to see how we work together over the month and enjoy Nepal together. Hopefully be the first of many travel trips for us. I also believe because I have traveled on my own if I am with my friends and there is friction or something is not right I have a calmer approach to it and can easily take charge to solve it. Also if I am with friends and they want to do something different to me on a trip, I am okay to go do what I want on my own as I have done it before. I love taking photos and keeping a record of everything I do. Sharing those experiences with people who are special to you is the best feeling in the world. I think that is why I do love traveling with friends and family.
I think overall I enjoy and like to solo travel and its not big deal to me to go on my own….but if I had a choice I would choose to travel with friends or family in a heart beat. Sharing memories and experiences with those closest to you for me is one of the best feelings in life.