This past weekend, I took a trip by myself to Huangshan in Anhui Province. It was the first solo trip I have ever taken, and I had a lot of fun! While there were lots of good aspects to traveling by myself, there were also some not so good aspects. I’m here to give you some pros and cons of solo travel.
- More flexible schedule
- When you travel alone, you can decide where and when you want to go. When I traveled with friends, we had to take everyone’s preferences into consideration, but on my alone trip, I could travel at my own pace. For example, I hiked Tiger Leaping Gorge, in Yunnan, with a friend, and while it was great, I felt like I had to keep up with his pace. Hiking Huangshan, I could stop to take pictures or rest whenever I wanted.
- Practice your independence
- At the end of my trip, I felt very accomplished for planning and executing my entire trip alone. I felt empowered that I was able to get around a foreign country by myself.
- Practice your language skills and make new friends
- One of my favorite parts of the trip was drinking tea and chatting with the other travelers at the hostel. Since I was alone, I was pushed to make new friends, and many of them were native Chinese speakers. When I travel with friends, I find myself mostly talking to them, but being alone really pushed me out of my comfort zone, and it was actually a lot of fun!
- Potentially more expensive
- If you travel with a large enough group of people, you can usually rent a big room in a hostel for not very much money at all. This way, your group gets a private room and each person doesn’t pay much. This is not possible when you are traveling alone, so you usually end up renting a bed in a shared room or paying more for a single.
- I never thought safety was much of an issue in China, but solo travels do make targets for thieves. When traveling with a buddy, you can watch each other’s things and look out for each other. When traveling by yourself, you need to be more careful to take care of your safety and belongings.
- While I really enjoyed being alone with my thoughts for much of the trip, I also ended up missing having a friend to share my experiences with. There were moments when I saw something really beautiful or cool and I thought of friends that would have enjoyed it as well. While traveling alone was a great experience, sometimes you miss having someone to talk to.