To travel solo or not to travel solo, that is the question
Generally speaking, the advantages and disadvantages of traveling solo are similar to the pros and cons of being single. You have more freedom with your time. If you want to spend all day in a park that you really like, you can, without any arguments or conflicts. However, there is greater potential for loneliness and you need to think more about safety. I don’t have a great sense of direction, so it’s possible that I could wind up being lost and find myself in a bad part of town.
Do you prefer to travel solo, or do you prefer the protection of Han Solo?
I traveled solo in Europe during my college years without any problems. I stayed in youth hostels (which form the basis for some of the scenes in my novel) and I met loads of people. Europe is easier because lots of people speak English and European countries use the Roman alphabet (with possibly a few exceptions).
It gets more complicated outside of Europe and other Western countries. If you don’t speak the language, you may find it hard to order meals, ask for directions, etc. If they use a different alphabet, then that’s another obvious barrier. Furthermore, I can’t stay in youth hostels now (at least not in a shared room). I’m older, and I need my privacy. If you’re an extremely outgoing person, then you might be able to meet people for dinner, bar-hopping, etc. In my case though, it wouldn’t happen.
As with anything else, whether or not to travel solo depends a huge amount on your personality. Do you get lonely easily? Do you talk to strangers naturally? Do you have a good sense of direction? Do you get stressed out easily, or are you extremely adaptable? At this stage of my life, I prefer to travel with adventure travel companies (Intrepid Travel is the main one that I use, but there are other similar types of companies). They still give me some free time to pursue my interests, but I like having the small group and a local guide. Obviously, I don’t speak for everyone; there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your character, how you like to travel, and your travel goals.
It goes without saying that solo travel for women has additional considerations, and certain areas of the world will be easier than others. But I don’t think that I’m qualified to discuss female solo travel; I will leave that to the ladies! Regardless of what you decide, best of luck with your travels! The world is a big place, and the options for great travel experiences are endless.