Worst Things About Traveling Solo Around the World

Travelling solo is good and all, but…

In my last travel post, I talked about the best things about traveling solo around the world. While traveling solo can be quite fulfilling and rewarding, there are also downsides that are not mentioned by people who say traveling alone is the best (myself included). And I’m pretty sure we’ve experienced all these. So here are, in my opinion, the worst things about traveling solo!

1. You Are on Your Own!!!

This one may be the most overlooked: YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!!

This means that no one may know where you are or what you’re up to (unless you’re informing your family & friends what you are doing). When I leave, I usually leave a brief itinerary of my trip including where I will be on which days. That way, they have some idea on where I am.

I love to hike up solo on mountains and forests, but if something were to happen to me on the way, my family wouldn’t find out until I’m on a hospital bed. There was this one hike I did in Japan where a certain species of venomous snake were known to inhabit the mountain. Thank God I wasn’t bitten by the snake because my phone didn’t have a voice plan and the trail was empty!

I love hiking (here on Mt. Misen in Miyajima) but I have to be extra careful.
Poisonous snake on the loose.

More Aware of Surroundings

Because you are alone, you need to be wary all the time. No one else is watching your back besides yourself. No one else is watching over your things besides yourself. If you find yourself walking alone at night, you need to look all around you for danger constantly.

While Rome is (generally) safe, the neighbourhood I stayed at, near the train station), was quite notorious. And I opted to walk rather than take the bus/cab.

Also note that some countries are quite dangerous to women, homosexuals, transgender people, Christians, etc. (India, Middle Eastern & African countries for example). In these countries, extra precaution must definitely be taken.

Mr. Lonely

Because you are alone, it can be lonesome at times. There are many times where I see something sooo beautiful but have no one beside me to share the gorgeous views. So, I had to settle for social media (mostly Snapchat and Instagram).

Gorgeous views at Sanxiantai!

Personally, I really do not mind if I’m alone. I’m an extroverted introvert, and I find happiness when I’m alone in solitude, whether if I’m hiking or sipping coffee in a cafe or just people-watching. Who cares if people think I’m “weird”?

And don’t forget: if you want a photo with the Eiffel Tower or Tokyo Tower or Marina Bay Sands, you’ll have to take a selfie. #TRUTH

Selfie at the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Kobe.
Selfie at the A-Mei Teahouse in Jiufen.

Using Your Own Abilities

Lastly, if you need help, you can only rely on yourself. Of course you can ask other people for help, but you can only rely on your own abilities. If you have heavy luggage, you have to pick it up yourself. You have to arrange your own transportation to your hotel.

It’s even harder if you’re travelling on a budget, especially if you want to take public transportation to get to-and-fro the airport or want to walk rather than take a cab (I’ve done this numerous times).

My 75 lb (altogether) luggage when I was leaving Germany back to Calgary. I had to carry all this, walking first to the train station, then taking the train to the airport, then lugging it inside the airport ALL ALONE. Ugh my arms hurt just thinking about it.

2. It Can be Very Stressful

I don’t know about you, but landing to an unfamiliar place is both exhilarating and stressful to me.

There are three musts that I need to do first whenever I land:

  • Withdraw cash,
  • Access to Internet (local SIM card or airport WiFi), and
  • Get to my hotel/hostel ASAP.

Once I’ve done those three things, I usually take the night off at the hotel, and start my travel the next morning. This usually eases the anxiety inside.

In my first night at Taiwan, I withdrew cash at the airport, then I headed straight to the hotel to unwind, shower, watch TV, research about the city & Taiwan, then head to Ningxia night market for some eats!
My first Taiwanese eats at Ningxia night market in Taipei.

Besides the stress of booking accommodation and packing, there is also stress when you first get to your destination. At the airport, there’s the stress of grabbing your luggage and customs. Then, there’s the stress of getting to your accommodation, while making sure you don’t get lost.

Not knowing the primary language amps up the stress factor! In Europe, you can get away without knowing the primary language because English is widely spoken, but in places like China, Nepal & Cambodia, it’s quite difficult to relay your message. Not to mention that there aren’t many English-friendly signs. However, it’s easier nowadays thanks to the wonder of smartphones and the Internet.

In Japan, the train/transportation signs are English-friendly. But, not all countries are like this!

3. Lots of Research and Preparation

Unless you’re an extremely flexible & carefree traveller or you’re on a group tour, then you will definitely need to research your destination(s).

After booking my return ticket, I do three things:

  1. Research what to do in the cities/places I visit (including possible day trips),
  2. Look for the best-located and budget-friendly accommodations,
  3. Research any deals that I could grab while abroad.
My research trip & itinerary plan for summer 2016. Research well!

This process usually takes me 2-3 days to complete, but at the end, I have a list of what I can do in the cities I visit. I’m not sure about you, though, but I’m a procrastinator and I LOVE the stress of travelling! I do things last minute, and while I hate myself in the moment, the stress also pumps me up and is quite exhilarating!

4. The Single Supplement (aka More Expensive…Sometimes)

I talked about this in my previous post, but traveling solo can be more expensive sometimes. I wouldn’t recommend going to a cruise or resort or safari or group tour alone, since you’ll definitely have to pay a single supplement.

Moreover, there many countries in the world where sit-down meals are often eaten in a group such as South Korea, China, Morocco and Spain. As such, you may miss out on some food that you were looking forward to.

In Taiwan, I was quite spoiled to have all-you-can-eat restaurants!!
Probably my 5th trip to the buffet. 😛

In Taiwan, I couldn’t eat dim sum because it’s cheaper to eat in a group. In many Chinese restaurants, they usually serve family-style unless it’s a buffet or a Western-style eatery. I also had my first afternoon tea in Taiwan; however, the price was set for two people. Because I was alone, I paid full-price for the tea set ($40 CAD).

A very yummy tea set at Kaohsiung, but this is usually suited for two people. I, however, was alone.
The sunset view wasn’t bad though, so I’m not complaining.

If you rather like to stay in hotels but have a tight budget, you will have to pay full price for a single room (which usually sleeps 2 people) more often than not. For myself, I stay at hostels most of the time (more social; you meet much more people). But when I want to have a room by myself, I take a night or two in a hotel to have my own private space.

My room in Taitung, Taiwan was suited for 2 people, and as such, I paid it full even though I was alone.

But Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Solo!

I always tell people this, but travelling alone is not impossible! Okay, sure…

  • It can be more expensive sometimes, but if you know how to budget, it’s easier on the wallet.
  • It can be lonely sometimes, but you can meet new friends along the way and you’ll learn more about who you are when you are alone.
  • It can be scary sometimes, but if you use common sense and are aware of your surroundings, you’ll be okay.
  • You might miss out on some opportunities sometimes, but there are a lot more activities you can enjoy without catering to others.

So…go out, explore and discover!

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