Traveling solo is glorified too much these days. Yes solo travel is therapeutic, life changing, adventurous, but they are several disadvantages of solo travel which don’t get talked about that often.
Based on my experiences traveling solo, I’m curating creating this listicle pertaining to disadvantages of solo travel. This list is not discourage anyone, but just to make a newbie solo traveler aware.
Disadvantages of Solo Travel
After having traveled exclusively solo over the past 2.5 years, now the thought of even going with a friend or family is unfathomable to me. Such is the impact solo travel has had on me.
But let me tell you, Solo traveling is not always bed of roses, there are several challenges you will face and this blog exactly lists down those disadvantages of solo travel based on my experience over the years.
|1. Your Safety Is Your Own Responsibility
|2. Solo travel can become an expensive affair
|3. You Yourself Have To Carry Your Own Weight
|4. Public Transport for Commute is slow
|5. Opting for Public Transport results in not enjoying landscapes completely
|6. Medical Emergencies can be hard to manage when solo
|7. Hiring Private Cabs is not viable for Solo travelers
|8. Hiring Guides becomes difficult as a solo traveler
|9. Hiking and Trekking solo can have dangerous consequences
|10. Dangers of wild animals always looms large
|11. Locals becomes suspicious of a solo traveler
|12. You’ve to setup camp and cook yourself when camping solo
|13. As a solo traveler you have to extremely punctual especially when commuting
|14. Solo travel can be lonely at times
|15. Hostels can become a problem on a solo trip
|16. There is no one to take care of your belongings
|17. Getting too intoxicated can have dangerous consequences
|18. Loved ones are constantly worried
|19. Families groups asking solo traveler to adjust on trains, flights, buses
|20. Running out of Cash
|21. Struggle of getting your photos and videos as a solo traveler
Your Safety Is Your Own Responsibility
Safety is one of the top disadvantages of solo travel. Although I personally haven’t faced any issues yet as I usually travel in the Himalayas where people are very amiable and hospitable.
But I’m sure a lot of solo travelers who have had their fair share of unpleasant experiences. But again if you are vigilant enough and do a bit of research, you should not be too much worried
When it comes to solo travel, females travelers usually face the most. Carrying items like Pepper spray is always advisable in case you’re not sure about the safety in that.
But one thing you always need to remember that you yourself are responsible for your own safety. Never be too intoxicated, never trust anyone too much and always be very vigilant when traveling solo.
Solo Travel Can Become An Expensive Affair
Solo travel sometimes can become an expensive affair. Staying in hostels is not always viable and not every solo traveler loves it. A lot of times, staying in hotel rooms could turn out to be expensive affair.
Dorm beds in popular are becoming as expensive as cheap hotel rooms at least in popular destinations in India which solo travelers usually prefer.
The stay expense could literally be halved if there was just another person with you. Commuting expense can also go up if there is no proper public transport and you’ve to rely on private cabs.
You Yourself Have To Carry Your Own Weight
Packing light is the key to avoid a nightmarish solo trip. As a solo traveler, it is you who will carry your own luggage and despite knowing this fact, sometimes there isn’t much you can do.
If you are digital nomad hopping from one to place every few weeks, carrying around those bulky rucksacks becomes really a demanding task. And there is nothing you can do to avoid.
I personally work remotely during my solo trips to the Himalayas, Carrying a rucksack along with my laptop bag becomes a hellish experience for me when I’ve to commute. This is one of the reasons I don’t like to rush and change bases too often.
Public Transport For Commute Is Slow
Another drawback of solo travel is having to use public transport. Most solo travelers are also usually budget travelers. Opting for public transport is a no-brainer.
But traveling in public transport especially in buses and that too in the Himalayas with narrow roads it becomes a difficult to save time.
The time taken could be literally halved if you were to use cabs or your vehicle. This is one of the reasons, why many solo travelers opt for bikepacking rather than relying on Public transport.
This is phenomenon I feel is mostly related to Himalayas and Indian sub-continent, I am not sure how relevant this point would be other parts of Asia and Europe, Africa, Australia, Americas.
Opting for Public Transport Results In Not Enjoying Landscapes Completely
Not being able to enjoy the landscapes is another thing I don’t like about commuting using buses. Even in a train journey though you are able to see the landscapes, they pass too quickly.
As I mentioned earlier, landscapes are a huge part of traveling to Himalayas, And when you are traveling in local buses on a scenic route, forget capturing some insane shots even if you’ve a window seat. It becomes too difficult sometimes.
This is where I feel that sometimes going in a group on a scenic route and having that liberty to stop your self-drive car or cab too enjoy the vistas is a liberty that you cannot get when traveling solo using public transport.
Medical Emergencies Can be Hard To Manage When Traveling Solo
Medical emergencies, be it common ailments like fever or serious illnesses can be difficult experience to go through when traveling solo. This is coming from a personal experience.
For most part of my early solo trips, I never took proper medicines for at least all the common ailments.
But I learnt the hard way when I was caught in the middle of a strict lockdown in a Himalayan state in a remote region with a diarrhea that wasn’t bad but wasn’t going away either.
That’s when I started to carry medicines as prescribed by my doctor on all my trips and there have 2-3 instances that those have come in handy.
Now imagine if you were to have a friend or a family alongside during a medical emergency, how nice it would feel. Solo travel does not give you that luxury.
Hiring Private Cabs Is Not Viable for Solo Travelers
Usually going to non-touristy remote destinations means less frequent or no public transport. And that’s when have you to make that hard choice of skipping that destination altogether or spending a fortune on cabs.
I’ve had to make such decisions. But think about it if you were in a group. Hiring private cabs would not be a big deal as it would get divided amongst individuals.
This is one of the worst downsides of solo travel, especially when the place is remote, non-touristy and picturesque.
Hiring Guides Becomes Difficult As a Solo Traveler
Hiring guides for solo travelers is again a hard choice to make. As someone who loves to embark on hikes in remote and lesser-frequented destinations sometimes I’ve no choice but to hire a local guide to ensure my safety.
The thing is unlike western countries, were you have marked trails with signboard, In Indian Himalayas that is rarely a case except for very very popular hiking trails.
Although the trails are marked but sometimes it could get confusing and therefore hiring a guide is the safest bet. Again when you are in group, you don’t have to think about having to hire a guide.
Hiking and Trekking Solo Can have Dangerous Consequences
Hiking and trekking solo alone without proper knowledge of the terrain and navigation can have dangerous consequences. Plus in case of any injuries or unfortunate situation there is no one to call for help.
This is I feel is one of the disadvantages of traveling solo. Hiking solo is fun, but the dangers associated with are too many.
If you are hell-bent on hiking solo in the Himalayas, then its always better to learn about navigation, planning, executing a self-supported solo hike from experts.
Danger of Wild Animals Always Looms Large
If hiking or visiting remote areas alone, there is always a danger of wild animals especially in the Himalayas.
This is one of the reasons, I personally don’t like to hike solo and usually hire a guide or hike with homestay hosts.
Recently on a hike in the Himalayas, we spotted a bear and had return back. Fortunately for us, my homestay host was quick to notice the bear and we made a return to a safer place from a narrow ridge.
Locals Becomes Suspicious of a Solo Traveler
If like me you love treading on off the beaten, wandering across remote locales, non-touristy villages, then people being suspicious of you could be an issue.
Although I have faced anything but kindness on most of such visits to remote locales in the Himalayas except for once.
Going to a non-touristy locale without local guide could raise the suspicion amongst locals.
You’ve To Setup Camp And Cook Yourself When Camping Solo
If you are traveling alone and on a multi-day hike or trek or you love camping, be prepared to do a lot of work.
You’ll have to setup the camp yourself, cook yourself and there is nobody to help even after a long day of hiking. This is not really a big challenge.
This is one of the disadvantages of solo travel which can be easily overcome in a group where responsibilities could be distributed amongst individuals.
As A Solo Traveler You Have To Be Extremely Punctual Especially When Commuting
As a solo traveler, you cannot afford to miss that bus or train in the wee hours of morning or in the odd hours. And since you are solo there is no one to remind you or help with the same.
You yourself have to be responsible and get up or get ready for that bus or a train that would be in the wee hours of the morning. So you have to be very punctual.
In a group, there will be always that one person who would wake up on time and help others in waking up as well.
Solo travel Can Be Lonely At Times
Yes solo travel can become lonely at times. Especially If you are someone who doesn’t like to stay hostels where you are likely too meet like-minded people.
I personally hate hostels dorms as they disrupt your sleeping pattern if the other folks are too noisy and or just not your kind of people.
That is why I usually always try to opt to stay in a homestay where at least I can interact with the local family and don’t have to spend my time in a hotel room, trying to mindlessly scroll through the social media just to pass time when I’m not working.
Hostels Can Become A Problem On A Solo Trip
Well, for travelers embarking on a solo trip for the first, hostels are their go to choice for accommodation. But there are several problems with staying at hostel that usually don’t get talked about.
In a hostel if you have opted for be in a dorm, in most cases you might have trouble sleeping. You’ll find people snoring, switching lights in the middle of the night and many more things.
If you are an early riser who loves to have sound sleep, a dorm may not be good choice. Personal space is gone for a toss especially if you are an introvert.
I have personally stayed in dorms, but the whole dorm was occupied by our group itself.
But when I had to exclusively stay as solo traveler with other travelers, I could not last for even a week I could not have sound sleep as folks in my dorm room constantly keep talking like until 3-4 AM.
There Is No One to Take Care Of Your Belongings
Another disadvantage of solo travel I feel is there is nobody to care of your belongings. After a long bus or a train journey, freshening up is what people look forward to.
But as a solo traveler how to manage it whilst also taking care of luggage and belongings becomes a challenge. You can’t leave it attended at least in India, where getting mugged is just one simple mistake away.
If in a group, your friends or family watch over the belongings and you are expected to do the same when they are away.
Getting Too Intoxicated Can Have Dangerous Consequences
Now its okay to party and enjoy on your time, but as a solo traveler, getting too intoxicated can result in dangerous circumstances.
Therefore, as a solo traveler always ensure that you’re in your sense so that you don’t make yourself too vulnerable.
Loved Ones Are Constantly Worried
If you are first time solo traveler, then chances are your loved ones are constantly worried about your safety and that’s a genuine concern.
There is no way out of such a situation. Even if you get comfortable traveling solo, your loved ones still might be worried. The only way out is to be in constant touch with them and let them know are okay.
Families Groups Asking Solo Traveler to Adjust On Trains, Flights, Buses
Now I don’t know whether this is just an Indian thing, but during my solo train travels, Almost exclusively I’ve been asked to change seats.
There are varied reasons, but sometimes for me it becomes irritating, but again there is little you can do. I’m sure many solo travelers would echo.
People asking for window seats on flights is another common occurrence. It becomes frustrating when you’ve paid for the window and people still have audacity to ask you for a window seat.
When they could have also availed the same if they would’ve paid for it.
Running Out of Cash
Although I always ensure that I have enough cash with me. There was this one instance where my card stopped working and I had to pay to a Taxi driver.
Thanks to UPI being widely accepted in India, I was able to get some cash at the gas station. Otherwise I would have run into problems.
But again things like these are not uncommon, sometimes your card doesn’t work, sometimes the ATM does work, sometimes it doesn’t have enough cash.
If In group, this problem usually never occurs because at least someone in the group has some at every point during the trip.
Struggle of Getting Your Photos and Videos As A Solo Traveler
While this is not very big disadvantage of Solo travel, but it is true, clicking photos of yourself or filming videos could become difficult if you were to travel solo.
The best way to overcome this challenge is to carry a basic tripod and that should pretty much solve this problem.
This brings me to the end of this blog, I hope these disadvantages of solo travel gave you an insight of how solo travel is not for everyone and bed roses.
The aim of this blog is to not discourage from solo but to make a newbie aware about the same. If you ask me, you should definitely go solo at least once and then decide from that experience.