Both solo travel and group travel have advantages and disadvantages. In considering both, you need to decide what choice best fits your preferences and style of travel.
For example, would you prefer the freedom of making all decisions yourself and going where your whim takes you? Or would you rather let others decide once in a while?
Independent travel brings a lot of flexibility – you can do what you want, when you want. However, in group travel, you need to be aware of the needs of others, too. You might all have different interests, travel budgets and expectations. Traveling with people who feel like partying all night and sleeping until noon while you prefer to rise early and explore the city obviously won’t work.
To avoid disappointments and make sure you are all on the same page, discuss with everyone before leaving what you want out of the trip.
In a group, conflicts and arguments over what to see and do, when to move on, and where to go might occur. However, at the same time, you always have company and won’t feel lonely. You get to share great experiences and moments of awe with people you love, not with a brief acquaintance who will head off somewhere else the next day. (Although don’t forget, people you meet on the road can also turn into excellent travel companions – even friends for life.)
How your trip ends up depends a lot on your mind-set. With a positive and outgoing attitude when traveling solo, you will easily make new friends and improve your foreign language skills through talking with locals. People also tend to approach single travelers more often. When you travel solo, locals might even invite you to stay in their homes – especially in regions where there are fewer tourists. This probably won’t happen if you go with a group.
When you travel with friends, there’s a risk that you won’t break out of your group and make a real effort to get to know your surroundings. As a single traveler, you will experience things differently and learn a great deal about yourself along the way.
For some, solo travel means boredom. But traveling alone doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel lonely. You can stay at hostels to meet other travelers, or join a homestay program to meet locals and learn about their culture. On the road, you will encounter so many new people and places, boredom will be the least of your worries.
Apart from the fun aspect of traveling with friends, many people choose group travel because it gives them a greater sense of security. You know you have trustworthy people around you in case you need help with something or want to share ideas. Before booking your trip, ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable making all decisions by myself?”, “Can I strike up conversations with strangers?”, “Enjoy my own company for hours, days, weeks in row?”, “Move from one point to another by reading maps and asking for directions?”, “Trust my gut feeling if a situation doesn’t seem right?”
If you feel comfortable traveling on your own, I would say go for it. Otherwise, travel with friends the first time before taking that four-month solo trip overseas.
Travel is an individual thing, but, whatever route you choose, the most important thing is that you get out there and travel!
Erica Johansson is a freelance writer and photographer from Sweden. For up-to-date travel news, tips and information, visit her travel blog at Travel Blissful.