By Rachel Diebel
One of the first big decisions you have to make when planning an adventure is whether you want to travel alone or as a part of a larger group of friends. Many people will advocate for one option or the other, but what it really comes down to is what you want out of the trip. At different times in your life, you will want to travel for different reasons, so before you decide, consider to pros and cons of flying solo or going it with a group.
Freedom to Choose
Traveling alone streamlines the decision process, often one of the most divisive things about traveling. When you’re on your own, you get to be totally selfish about what you want to do. Want to go skydiving? Go for it. Want to spend the entire day in your hotel room reading? Do it. The freedom to choose where to go and what to do can make traveling so much easier and more fun.
Independence and Confidence
The biggest thing that traveling alone teaches you is how to be independent. Along with getting to make your own decisions comes the responsibility to carry them out. Learning to navigate airports, public transportation and new cities alone can be tricky, but ultimately very rewarding. Knowing that you are capable of being independent gives you a new sense of confidence and strength.
Make New Connections
When you aren’t part of a large group, it is easier to get to know locals. People are more likely to talk to you and offer help if they see that you are sitting alone rather than in a loud group of talking and laughing people. The ability to make new friends wherever you go is an important positive aspect to traveling by yourself.
Space to Think
Sometimes we travel to be able to think and consider our place in the world, and sometimes it’s easier to do that by yourself. Sitting alone on the top of a mountain in South America or at a sidewalk cafÃ© in Paris gives you the space to really consider where you are and where you want to be. Silences can be valuable, and silence is easier to achieve when you are on your own.
Going it with a Group
Sometimes traveling with a group can bring down the cost of the trip. When you’re with a few friends, hostels cost less and you have someone to split the dinner bill with. Friends can also act as checkpoints, letting you know if they notice that you are overspending. If being cost effective is one of the most important things to you when traveling, you may want to consider taking a few friends along.
Someone to Share Your Stories With
The most convincing argument for traveling with a group is that it gives you someone to reminisce with. Shared stories are always fun to tell years later over a beer or at a dinner party, and often no one really understands unless they were there. Having someone who knows exactly what happened is comforting when your other friends just don’t get it.
Traveling alone comes with some inherent risks that can be easily eliminated by traveling as a part of a group. With a few friends along, you can watch each other’s backs. More people means more lookouts on the street, in pubs, and in airports or train stations.
Help With the Bad Times
If something does happen to go wrong, having people around to help can ease the burden of stress and anxiety. Sometimes you just can’t handle something and you need someone else to do it for you. We all have different breaking points, and having someone around you when you hit yours can make all the difference during a difficult time.