5 Reasons Solo Travel Sucks

Last updated on:
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Read the full disclosure policy here.

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

Join the ADB Community!
Sign up here to get exclusive travel tips, deals, and other inspiring goodies delivered to your inbox.

107 Comments on “5 Reasons Solo Travel Sucks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. It is the WORSE having to drag everything you own into the bathroom with you. I’m glad you’re back into the swing of things.

      Ugh, I know! I think I mostly added that one because I have to deal with buses and airports and trains tomorrow.

    Solo travel does suck sometimes but waiting for someone to travel with you sucks even more. I will take solo travel over no travel every day.

      Amen. I totally agree! Which is why I travel solo so often – I’m not about to wait for someone to go with me!

    All I can say is that selfie photo of you is adorable! Your photos are always so vibrant in color!

    Oh, the selfies. They’re definitely my biggest issue with solo travel. If I take one, I feel like everyone around me is noticing how awkward I look. Or, if I actually work up the courage to ask another tourist to take my picture, as you said, it usually doesn’t even turn out very good. And you can only ask them to retake the photo about twice before it starts to get uncomfortable.

    I love solo travel, and I’m usually pretty good with most of what that entails, but I’ll admit I find taking photos of myself traveling alone very awkward. There are a lot of places I’ve visited where I haven’t taken any photos of me there because taking a photo of myself (or worse talking to someone to ask for them to take a photo for me) just feels weird. Yet I could sit down in a restaurant alone, and have like an 8 course meal, and wouldn’t feel odd about that at all.

      I think it’s brilliant you can do an 8 courser on your own! I think I can too, except I don’t eat very much. I have no issue dining alone because of selfconsciousness, more that time seems to drag out more with no conversation. Unless the seat offers a good view of some happening street life, I just get bored eating alone. That is my problem.
      If I can strike a chat with the waiter or neighbouring diners, then I am good! I’ve had really great chats this way. Everyone is interesting if you can find out what is the interesting part in them that interests you!

        I get really bored, too! Hence usually taking my Kindle along when I’m alone.

      The selfie conundrum seems to bother a lot of people when traveling solo!

    I too hate eating alone. I am kind of the worst and either end up getting take out and eating on a bench, try to eat at the bar if available or otherwise, just end up inhaling my food and getting out asap.

    It must be the big city gal in me, but I would NEVER leave my bag with anyone else. If I can’t carry it everywhere with me, I don’t bring it. Plus, I am super good at “holding it”. Someone asked me to watch her bag once and I said yes, but 10 minutes went by and my bus arrived. One guess what I did. Hey, she took a risk with a stranger in the first place, serves her right!

    The first time I went to Europe alone, digital cameras were not well known yet, hence I have exactly one picture of myself. Digicams have made it way more easy to reach out and take a picture of yourself now, then film cams ever did. I got so used to seeing myself at the same angle, that I actually turned people down to take a full shot.

    I am the same at making friends and talking to people and I totally agree with tours. A great way to meet people with no strings attached.

      I do the same thing as you often when it comes to eating. Though more recently I’ve just been forcing myself to go out when I need a real meal!

    Oh yes yes yes, these are the exact problems or annoyances that I have too. I especially agree with the picture point – I hate having to ask a stranger to take my picture since it usually ends up being horrible. I don’t need to see my feet if you have to cut off the top of the Parthenon, thanks a lot. 🙂 I will take the selfie but it just doesn’t look as good as others. It can be frustrating! Also agree about the table for one. Sometimes I can’t have my kindle/ipad with me so it’s just me sitting there, staring at the walls, or the menu, or asking for another drink to pass the time. Actually that last one is fun. 🙂

      Sitting alone in the restaurant just staring into space is the worst!!!

    All too true! My only real problem with solo travel is the photos… The rest I’m quite happy about actually! I can do what I want, when I want, with whoever I want. Maybe I’m just selfish that way haha, x

      That’s awesome that the rest of it doesn’t really phase you! Rock on!

      I am the same. Unless I haven’t found my ideal travel companion, the benefits of solo travel so outweigh travelling with another for me – no compromise. When I am in a beautiful place, I love having it all to myself to soak it all in in golden awed silence, rather than have the experience adulterated by talk.

      I have absolutely no problem striking up chats with others. This is in fact one of the best things about solo travel – meeting lots of interesting new people. I don’t limit myself to talking to travellers either. I prefer talking to locals. I don’t go all the way there to not explore what the local people think, feel and see things -it’s the heart of exploring their culture besides the tourist attractions. People make a place.

    I travel solo 99% of the time. Hell, I live by myself so I’m probably alone a good 75% of the time in my normal life, and less so when I travel. All of which is good and by choice, BTW. But I digress.

    Table for one: You have hit upon my solution. Read. Put away the phone (!!) and read a book or its modern equivalent your kindle/iPad. But don’t let that get in the way of talking to people. I’ve had many a conversation with people at the table beside me. Often because they’re taking pity on the traveler eating alone!

    Your own security guard: At most I ever travel with one bag in addition to my daypack. And that bag is either checked or small enough that taking it to the bathroom with me is no big deal. The cynic in me would never trust a stranger of any sort with anything of value to me.

    Selfies. You have a blog, so you’re kind of obligated. I hate having my photo taken and often have to argue with people who want to help me out by taking a photo for me.

    Introversion/extroversion: I am a natural introvert/shy person who’s trained myself to be outgoing when I travel. How else am I going to get value from my travel dollar if I don’t talk to people? I felt like I had truly succeeded when, at a hostel last year some friends from Colorado with whom I traveled for a while observed “Geez … you talk to *everybody*”. Another thing that I’ve found helpful at B&Bs or hostels is to chat with people (preferably other obviously solo travelers) and find out what they are up to that day. More often than not they are overjoyed if you suggest tagging along (or that they tag along with you doing your more interesting thing)..

    Constant goodbyes: Much easier these days with facebook, email, free texting, etc. I am in constant, if sporadic, contact with a lot of people I’ve met when traveling and have loose plans always to touch base with them when I eventually get to their part of the world.

    But really – most of what you have described is just life. The only difference is that travel is life amplified. All the same problems exist in your non-travel world. It’s just that you know a lot of people in that world upon whom you can call to help solve the problem.

    BTW, I actually *like* the look of selfies, with or without the extender. I think they are much more “real” than a posed shot that someone else has taken of you.

      Great comment, Rob! I like your statement about travel being life amplified – it is, for sure. Though I don’t run into any of these problems at home in my everyday life!

        I bet you do (or did) run in to some of those problems earlier in your everyday life – it’s just that you now have go-to solutions for them so you don’t notice. All the friends you didn’t have when you first started school, or first started university.

        I’m not the first person to observer the “life, amplified” thing. Which actually brings up a positive thing about solo travel. Not having to deal with other people!

        I’ve never had problems traveling with girlfriends or other friends, but I definitely vet them before the trip starts because I know of relationships (and marriages) that have died at the end of two months of incompatible travel. Short trips are a great way to figure out that your friends really are not “travelers” in the way that you might hope them to be. Not that that is bad, unless you’re stuck traveling with them for a month. 🙂

          I’ve always said any potential significant other of mine will have to travel with me before we get serious! Travel is definitely a make-or-break kind of thing for a lot of people.

    I think party hostels are also kind of a problem, since they’re quite often filled with groups of people who have no interest in socializing with people outside of their circle, unless they’re of the opposite gender. This was especially apparent in South America where some hostels had swimming pools, bars, restaurants, maids, and hundreds of guests. I started picking the smaller hostels that had only one table in the common room, so everyone met each other every morning (if they woke up around the same time, anyway). It worked a lot better.

      Very good point! I’ve stayed at a lot of larger hostels on this trip, and I definitely agree – it’s so hard to break into an already-established group! I usually have much better luck making friends with fellow solo travelers.

    What about wanting to have a swim but having to look after your bag?

    I always feel exactly the same: I’m also an introvert, and don’t always force myself into meeting new people, especially if there are a bunch of people hanging out together at the hostel. It feels weird to go there and introduce yourself. It helps that I usually make friends with the people in my dorm, but it’s only for a few days.

    I’ve also found out that, at least for me, friends you like to go out with in your home town can make horrible travel companions, so I don’t complain. Travelling solo is very looked down upon in Italy: Wwhen I tell my mother, relatives or friends that I’m travelling alone they never understand and let’s say that they pity me.

      Very interesting that you feel like solo travel is looked down on in Italy!

      I agree though that at-home friends don’t always make good travel buddies. That’s sometimes a great way to end a friendship!

    Another bummer – when you’re in a cool place and you just want to turn and say ‘look at that..it’s it just awesome?” then you realize you’re on your own. I myself travel most of the times solo, and while it’s great (freedom of choice and such), there are times when you just need someone to tag along. Keep up the amazing work 🙂

      Yes, I totally agree! Sometimes you just want someone to share those amazing memories with.

        This is by far the worst part of travelling alone – its juts never the same when sharing something awesome second-hand! 🙁

          Agreed! That, and, with Facebook and my blog and everything, by the time I get home everyone has usually already heard/read about my adventures. So I hardly ever get to share anything even second-hand!

            I quite like solo dining. You know those couples you see dining out who hardly speak to each other or spend the whole time looking at their phones. I would rather be the person sitting by myself. I do prefer doing it at lunch but if I am going to do dinner I do an early sitting or sit up at the bar and eat. Do it with your head held high and everyone will be envious . I take a notepad and pen and my kindle. I used to live around the corner from this really nice little restaurant and the amount of women that would dine alone there made me realise just how many people are out there doing it. Tapas can be a bit of a bummer by yourself but I always try and make it work. I might not get to experience the restaurant if I don’t just “what ever”.

              I’ve taken to bringing my Kindle with me – it definitely makes me feel less weird about eating alone!

    Ugh, so true about eating alone! I’m in the middle of a solo trip and spent about an hour wandering around SoHo looking for a place to eat where I felt comfortable. Ended up just grabbing a sandwich and eating in the park. I’ve found it’s the little things that have tripped me up the most.

      I do that ALL the time, too! One of the most annoying parts about traveling solo for me.

    I’ve never really thought about it, but I realized I’ve never traveled solo. More power to you for doing so. Even if it isn’t all cupcakes and champagne, at least you are out there seeing the world.

      Very true, Kimmy. Most of the time I enjoy traveling solo. But it definitely has its moments!

As Seen On

As Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen OnAs Seen On