5 Reasons Solo Travel Sucks

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Okay, so I know that I occasionally publish posts on my blog about how awesome it is to travel solo. And it's true that I've gained a lot of things — mostly related to my development as an independent and confident woman — from traveling on my own.

But you know what?

Solo travel isn't always fun. In fact, sometimes it just downright SUCKS.

5 Reasons Why Solo Travel Sucks

If you got my August newsletter, you'll remember that I struggled early on during this trip to find my “travel groove.” A lot of it was due to my having to adjust back into the solo travel mentality — which took a while. There were some days when I just wanted to scrap my whole trip and go back home to my family and friends.

I've gotten past those first faltering weeks, however. And I'm thankfully back into full-on travel mode. But those tough first weeks reminded me that travel — solo travel or otherwise — is NOT always fun.

Here are 5 things that suck about traveling alone:

Table for One

I'm used to doing things on my own by now, but one thing I may never be 100% comfortable with is eating alone at restaurants. When I'm traveling alone, I try to avoid sit-down dinners out in public as often as possible. I hate the weird looks I get from hostesses and waiters and even other diners — YES, I am eating alone. Please stop staring.

How to make it easier: Since wifi can't always be counted on at restaurants, I never rely just on my phone for distraction when I'm dining solo. I usually try to have my Kindle with me as well. Reading while eating a meal for one makes me feel less self-conscious. Plus, maybe it makes me look more intellectual and like I don't give a shit that I'm alone?

Monteriggioni Italy

Your Own Security Guard

You know when you're in an airport or train station and you really really have to pee because you've just drunk an entire liter of water because it's hot and you just walked half an hour with your life on your back? Yeah, I've been there. And it really sucks when you're alone and have to drag ALL of your bags into the toilet stall with you.

How to make it easier: Not really a whole lot you can do except ask a stranger to watch your biggest bag(s) and take only the valuable stuff with you. I've resorted to this a few times, but at least twice my “guard” has up and disappeared during his/her shift! So annoying.

The Forced Selfie

It may seem like a silly thing, but when you travel solo it's often difficult to get awesome photos of yourself in cool places. You either are forced to take really awkward selfies, or you are at the mercy of complete strangers — most of whom, in my experience, have no business owning/using a camera of any sort.

How to make it easier: I used to use the “find someone with a nice camera and ask them to take my photo” trick. But these days, with almost everyone toting around a DSLR (90% of them probably never taking it off the Auto setting), it doesn't always yield good results. Another option is to get something like a Xshot camera extender to make taking selfies easier (though by no means less awkward).

Florence selfie
Florence selfie

Hello, Extroversion

I am naturally a bit of an introvert. Or maybe I just hate people, I don't know. All I know is that I'm usually not the first person to strike up a conversation (with strangers, friends, doesn't matter). If I AM the first, it's usually because I'm forcing myself to. When I'm traveling solo, then, it's not as easy for me to meet people as I would like it to be. Yes, I still manage, but I'm by no means a social butterfly and often find myself exhausted after a day/night of forced socializing.

How to make it easier: Well, I could just stop being so weird. But, since that probably won't happen, I HAVE found some ways to make things easier on my solo self. I go on walking tours. I book group tours and day trips from time to time. This summer, I've been traveling around Europe with Busabout, which means I see a lot of the same people over and over. Without fail, there is always SOMEone who will talk to me first and pull me out of my shell a bit.

Me, Myself, and I

When you travel solo, you really can only count on yourself — for safety, company, entertainment, self-control. You don't have anyone holding your hand. Usually I find this pretty empowering… but it can also get a bit lonely. I run into lots of couples and sets of best friends traveling together, and I almost envy them. As a solo traveler you DO meet people (even I meet people, despite my sometimes stand-offish ways), but meaningful, long-term relationships (friendships or otherwise) are hard to come by when you are saying goodbye to people every few days.

How to make it easier: Short answer, you can't. Constantly saying goodbye is never going to get easier. In fact, I think it just gets harder and more tiresome the more you do it. Sure, you could completely shut down, tune out, and become an emotional robot. But who wants that?

Cesky Krumlov rafting crew
New Busabout friends

 

So there you have it. The 5 reasons why I personally think solo travel sucks sometimes.

But, even on the worst days, I still wouldn't trade it for anything!

RELATED: Why Traveling as a Female Rocks (and Why it Sucks)

Do you have anything to add to the list?

 

*Note: Most of this is very snarky, and it's meant to be that way. I by no means hate traveling solo. I just wanted to illustrate that it's not all unicorns and rainbows! (Though, if it was, how AWESOME would that be??)

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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107 Comments on “5 Reasons Solo Travel Sucks

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  1. I just had my first solo trip and it was a 50-50 experience for me.
    Problems I faced are like
    1) You need to beg for good photos and may end up with listening to ‘I am not your photographer, sir!!!’.
    2) You can’t say ‘look at that pretty girl dude!!!’ because there is no one with you.
    3)Renting a car is costly as you are the only one who is paying for it
    4) If you want to eat at famous hotel and there is queue then you probably won’t get table soon compare to group.
    5)As an introvert it’s more difficult to introduce yourself to other group
    6) If you are at beach and want swim then you need to find someone who can watch your bag.
    7)You can’t taste unknown dish from your friend plate

    The most important thing I learnt from my solo trip is, If you want to travel for peace then go to locations which are less crowded, less party alike and more natural.

    I love your writing , i however hsve never gotten issue to eat alone in restaurant , every restaurant do have table for one , else i ate at the bar ( in USA) , seriously when travelling the world i want to enjoy the food from those country too, i dont let people make me feel awkward, thats their problem not mine …., i paid a lot to visit the country and i will enjoy the food , the view , and the hospitality too , thanks god i hate my own selfie, i make picture from the country not from myself …, so tsking pics also not an issue for me , also as i always traveling super duper light( 60l) backpack for 2 months Australia, i have no issue to go to the restroom in the train ( i tried not to do it too often in the teain ), safety is the most important when you are female solo traveller, i tried not be really wasted at night and avoid dark alleys , and i always make sure to watch out and careful with what i said to strangers .., and when possible i contact local meet up group and couch surfing group , to meet up traveler from all over the world and share experiences … Bottom line , dont be afraid , have confidence , dont be shy, and most important things enjoy your trips the fullest ….Thanks God up till now i am still safe and still enjoying my trips …. Safe teavels y’all … Cheers from the lowland Netherlands

      Good for you, Ephie! You’re right that women need to be more careful when traveling solo, but it sounds like you have it figured out pretty well!

    This article came up after googling “Solo traveling for extroverts”. I have so many travel goals that are not being fulfilled because of friend schedules or budgets. I feel like now is the time to travel for me, no real responsibility, young, full of energy. The thing is for me, an experience is only as good as the people your with. I can be viewing the most beautiful sunset ever, but if I’m with annoying, negative people ill just want to get out of there. And conversely, I can be at the most bland, uneventful party, but if I’m with a group of fun people we’ll make it a blast.

    I’ve been mulling over the idea of traveling Europe solo for a while now. My grandmother did it when she was 26, my sister when she was 28. Im 23, and with all my life goals, I feel like now would be the perfect time.

    Ive gone on small road trips solo, but I had the mindset that I was going to work on my photography, so I guess I wasn’t set out to enjoy myself, just “work”.

    -Table for one: I would be mortified to sit alone at a table. I would never.

    -You’re your own security guard- Don’t see this as being a problem. Im pretty trusting, but have good judgement.

    -Forced Selfie- selfies are awkward even with friends. Not a problem for me.

    -Hello Extroversion- This is what I’m most nervous about. I make small talk with anything that moves, but that’s not the same as sharing and enjoying incredible moments with your people. Also, I’m one of those freaks that think having fun is one of the most important things in life. How does one have fun alone?

    Any advice for people who need people?

    Rant over lol

      Hey Liz! Have you considered a small group tour, or perhaps traveling with a company like Busabout? Busabout might actually be perfect for you! You can check out my post about it here: https://www.dangerous-business.com/2013/11/whats-like-travel-around-europe-busabout/

      You can also check out my huge solo travel guide, which addresses some of your other questions: https://www.dangerous-business.com/2015/08/top-9-questions-about-solo-travel-answered/

      And I’ve written a post about traveling as a introvert, too: https://www.dangerous-business.com/2015/11/8-truths-about-traveling-as-an-introvert/

    How unfortunate that you haven’t had a great Travel experiences alone. I find the traveling alone affords me a lot of opportunities for traveling with others does not. Solo travel gives me far more opportunities to meet interesting people and you can be more spontaneous about your travel plans.

      Actually, if you’ve read other things on my site, you’ll see that I’ve had tons of great experiences traveling solo! This post was just pointing out the downsides – because there are downsides to any style of travel!

    OH god the whole thing about people not knowing how to take pictures. I am by no means a professional photographer but damn some people are just terrible at it.

    I like road trips in the US and I must tell you, if there is a long drive with nothing really to look at, it gets a bit boring. I end up talking to myself quite a lot. While I love the me time, I wish I could teleport people in and out at will. Paying for gas alone also sucks! (or accommodation!)

      Hahaha, yeah, some people just shouldn’t be allowed to use cameras!

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