I’m a big proponent of traveling alone. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child that I usually prefer my company to anyone else’s. But as much as I encourage solo travel, there are definitely some unpleasant things about it.
Going to the bathroom.
This is hands down the worst thing about traveling alone. When you travel with other people, you can leave your stuff with them while you go to the bathroom. When you’re alone, you have to take your luggage, your bookbag, and your gnome with you. It’s a pain and it can be kind of gross depending on the condition of the bathroom. I’ve definitely used the bathroom with luggage on my back to avoid putting anything on the floor.
One of my favorite things about vacations is eating at good restaurants. While I don’t shy away from eating alone (in fact, I’m doing so as I type this), there are a couple of disadvantages to eating solo. For one, you can’t share plates. I tend to eat small portions so I always opt to share. I also like to try different things, so it’s nice when everyone at the table gets a different meal and you can all share. The other disadvantage is that it can be boring. When you travel solo, you don’t have conversation or laughter to entertain you while you eat.
Not being able to let loose.
This is not to say I’m irresponsible while traveling with other people, but when I travel solo, I’m a little more guarded and careful. I usually won’t have more than one or two drinks, and I don’t stay out as late. So it’s hard to enjoy the nightlife in the same way. When you’re with friends, you can look out for each other, so you don’t mind getting day drunk at brunch and going sightseeing.
Waiting in lines.
There is almost nothing I hate more than waiting. Unfortunately, popular attractions usually have a line. When you’re waiting for 45 minutes to get into the Anne Frank House, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. It also helps to have someone console you after you leave the Anne Frank House in tears.
Limiting your activities.
There are certain things I simply wouldn’t do traveling alone that I would do with other people. For instance, zip lining, going to a sex show, or getting on a ski lift. These are the kinds of experiences that are meant to be shared with someone you know that can join in freaking out with you.
But of course, that shouldn’t discourage you from traveling alone. It can be difficult to get people to coordinate going on vacation with you but that should never stop you from going anyway. Traveling alone can be great. And you can mitigate all those disadvantages by being more social.
Chit chat with your friends on your phone while you eat, and it’s like they’re there with you. Make friends with people in your hotel or hostel and see if there are any activities you’d like to do together. Sit with other solo people at dinner. That’s how I met a lovely gentleman in Oslo that had lived in Florida when he worked at the Norway pavilion at Epcot. The world is small and wonderful, and you never know the things you have in common with the people around you unless you talk to them.