Traveling Solo v With Friends: What’s Best For You?

Solo or with a companion, hitting the road invariably throws up exciting new experiences
Solo or with a companion, hitting the road invariably throws up exciting new experiences | © HOWL / Stocksy
Photo of Amy Baker
3 September 2021

Do you like the freedom to travel alone? Perhaps you feel experiences are better shared with others? Culture Trip weighs up both sides of the coin.

There’s no right or wrong way to travel. Whether you team up with friends or head off solo, it’s a personal preference. Knowing yourself and how you like to experience the world is handy for establishing which option to pick. If you’re still deciding, read on. We run through the pros and cons of travelling alone versus with friends.

Prefer to travel with your team? Check out TRIPS by Culture Trip, our carefully curated collection of small-group adventures led by Local Insiders.

Travelling alone

There’s no need for compromise

Travelling is all about embracing freedom and that’s one thing solo travel serves in spades. Any need to compromise evaporates. You make the rules – from where you go to what you eat. You’ll be amazed at what you discover about yourself when you’re free of outside influence and you’re able to indulge every whim.

You’ll gain confidence and a fresh perspective

Navigating your way around a foreign country is a life-defining experience. It really shows you what you’re made of. Prepare to tap into reserves of inner strength you didn’t know you had prior to departure. Travelling solo gives you time to think, to learn, to grow. When your eyes are wide open – as they must be when you’re a one-person team – you’ll gain a whole new outlook on the world.

Solo journeys can lead to adventures you never expected to have | © Westend61 / Getty Images

You’ll be more open to new connections

It’s easy to assume solo travel is a lonely affair. While that can be the case at times, in practice, you’re rarely ever alone. When you travel in a group, you form your own bubble. This makes you far more likely to miss out on the most life-affirming aspects of travel – interacting with locals and meeting fellow travellers from all corners of the world.

You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment

When you step on a plane, you’re physically jetting thousands of miles away from your comfort zone. But, as we all know, that’s where the magic happens. Every day you travel alone comes with a healthy sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s navigating the language barrier, working out a nonsensical public transport system, or locating your accommodation, you’ll finish every day feeling proud of yourself for making things happen single-handedly.

Exploring the streets of Copenhagen’s old town? You might discover more if you go solo | © Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Spontaneity is an added bonus

Although it’s wise to book experiences you don’t want to miss, solo travel grants you the capacity for spontaneity. While groups need to book ahead to secure their spots, solo travellers can slot more easily into tours and accommodation. Say you’ve made new friends and they’re heading off to Chiang Mai. You can join them. Fancy skydiving over Lake Wanaka? There’s nothing stopping you.

Travelling with friends

Mates can lighten the load

It’s no small feat to explore the world – there’s research to be done, flights to be booked, choices to be made, not to mention that things can – and often do – go wrong. One of the main advantages of travelling with friends is being able to share the burden and support each other through the process. Even if it’s just someone who will wait with your bag while you pop to the toilet.

Sharing memories enhances your trip

Some prefer to experience moments alone, others can’t imagine making memories with anyone but their nearest and dearest. Whether it’s an experience you and your friends have dreamed about since you were kids or the type of hilarious, unexpected moment that travelling serves up daily – having your friends with you means there’s always someone there to share the ups and downs.

Getting to the top of Mount Charlie in Queensland, Australia, might feel easier with help from your buds | © John Crux Photography / Getty Images

You can spread the cost between you

Another major perk of travelling with buddies is that you can share costs that solo travellers have to bear the brunt of alone. Yes, solo travellers have much more control over their spending. However, when you’re in a group, you’ve got way more bargaining power for securing discounts on transport, tours and accommodation.

There’s safety in numbers

Just like your mum always says. It’s true that travelling with others automatically adds a comforting layer of safety, particularly if you’re new to travel. You know that if you get lost or have your wallet stolen, there’s someone to hold your hand whilst you try to mime your predicament in a foreign police station.

Many feel more comfortable striking out for adventure as part of a group | © helovi / Getty Images

Compromise will expand your interests

Travelling with friends means compromise. This can have its drawbacks, however, you might surprise yourself when you try horse-riding or surfing – something that was never on your radar. Travelling is all about expanding your horizons, pushing yourself and trying new things. Being open to what your mates suggest guarantees new experiences you’d never imagined.

Still can’t make up your mind? Check out TRIPS by Culture Trip – small-group adventures designed for solo travellers who want to form new, meaningful friendships on the road through shared, culture-rich experiences.

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