Some people get lucky and find they have a friend at the same life stage as them, when they decide they want to go travelling. But more often than not, the desire to travel comes at a time when one’s friends are busy or preoccupied with careers, family and more. This shouldn’t stop you heading out on your adventure and so we face the question…
Should I go solo? Or should I book onto a tour?
Truth is, there’s no right or wrong when making this decision. And which ever it is that you decide to go with to kickstart your adventure, should you not enjoy it as you imagined, you can always switch it up along the way. That’s the beauty of travelling. It’s about embracing freedom.
It’s about embracing you.
Whether you’re making this decision as a full-time travel junkie or whether you’ve never travelled before, there are several pros and cons when it comes to travelling solo or joining in on a group tour and in this blog post we are going to run through them all to help you make your decision.
Solo travel vs group travel…
Why do people solo travel?
There are so many reasons why people decide to solo travel. You get to make your own rules, you have permission to be flexible with your decisions, or, if you prefer, you don’t have to make any decisions at all. It’s a type of freedom we don’t get often.
For me, I like solo travel because I’m forced to commit to stepping outside my comfort zone and do things for myself. I usually don’t get this important time in my daily routine and solo travel gives me an opportunity to invest in me.
We have to remember that solo travel plays such a crucial part when it comes to shaping you into who you want to be. You find yourself relying on a completely new part of you, a part that you may not even know existed. When you have that all-important time to think, you tap into new thoughts, ideas, perspectives. Solo travel gives you time to plant these new seeds while also giving you the desire to nourish them into real life.
It also gives you time to just breathe, to take a step back. This time alone can work magic.
I’ve gone through some of my ups and downs of solo travelling here.
Why do people group travel?
Group travel gives you a great chance to open up and connect with new people freely. It’s the drive behind my love for it! Our daily routine is surrounded by comfort, especially when it comes to hanging out with the same group of people. Group travel changes that.
When you travel in groups, you leave all your intentions at home. Without even saying it, everyone acknowledges the fact that you’re in this together. All of a sudden new friendships have blossomed to the point where it feels like years, when really, it’s just been a few weeks!
You also create this sense of companionship with people you would never expect, plus, you always have someone there to get that cheeky insta pic. It’s a win-win!
My experience as a solo traveller…
1. 2015: New York
It got to the point where I knew it was time to jump on the solo bandwagon! The desire for adventure was too much, and I don’t do things by halves, that’s for sure. I first decided that I wanted to spend 3 months in New York as a camp counsellor when I was 18. Mum thought it was a little crazy, but with a little reassurance and research, she was happy to see me travel to the States. That summer turned out to be one of the BEST summers of my life.
I highly recommend introducing the idea of solo travel by spending a summer working in the US. You go alone, but you don’t have to be alone when you’re there!
2. 2019: Europe
A few years had gone by before I jumped back into travelling alone. I had been on some epic adventures in the meantime and got pretty good at convincing my best friends to come with me. However, it got to the point whereby my friends couldn’t take any more time off work and I had no other choice but to go by myself. I didn’t let that stop me though, and I’ve had some brilliant weekends away solo!
My experiences on group tours…
Ready to fill my bucket list with every travel desire that was floating around my head, and wanting to share some of these experiences with other like-minded people, it was clear that the time had come to introduce group travel into my life.
1. 2018: My first WMGT adventure in Cornwall
I first experienced group travel on a WMGT adventure in Cornwall, when I also did an internship with Mollie. Let’s just say it was MAGICAL and I even got the opportunity to write about it for you! Check out my post here.
“Oh the magic that happens when we come together and put our phones away for a while.”
2. 2019: Spending one month in Asia on a group tour.
The first thing on my travel bucket list was seeing elephants. If I wanted to make this dream happen, I had to go to Africa or Asia. I chose Asia. That side of the world was so new to me, so it was time to explore the idea of group travel again. With a little bit of research, I found a group tour programme (Xtreme Gap Year) that ticked every box. It included volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Surin, island hopping on the east coast of Thailand and every kind of adventure in between. It was PERFECT.
Check out all my posts about my trip to Thailand here.
Advantages of solo travel…
1. You have the freedom to make your own decisions.
The freedom you experience while your solo travelling is on another level. Doing whatever your heart desires is liberating. There’s an opportunity to grow and it’s yours for the taking. The way you use your freedom and spend your time is completely up to you.
2. It reminds you how good people are.
We the kindness of those closest to us for granted, an easy trap to fall into. I feel like we’re constantly surrounded by news filled with negativity and it’s natural to lose hope n how good the world is and the people who make it that way.
During your solo adventure, you will require the help of people at some point. Whether it is to ask for directions, to figure out where you are on the map or the need for a simple chat. I’m always pleasantly surprised how willing people are to help. It really is lovely. What’s more, when you get home, you’ll be reminded of who you missed and why you missed them, which is sometimes the kick you need to fully appreciate them for all they’re worth.
3. There’s something new every day.
Now, this is the real fun part of solo travelling. Every single day is different. You wake up with an expectation of how your day is going to go and by the end, it has done a complete 360. If you enjoy the excitement of the unexpected then you will love solo travelling.
4. You learn to say YES more.
I’ve learned that saying yes can fuel the most adventurous kind of people. I don’t think there’s been a time when I’ve said yes and regretted it. There’s a feeling of thrill and excitement that comes with travelling spontaneously and just winging it. Asked to join in on a pub crawl? Say yes. Want to spend another day exploring in the same city? Why not, say yes.
The first time you say yes can be daunting. Everything you do for the first time is a little bit daunting, but the valuable results of saying yes become so much clearer over time.
5. It’s an opportunity for self-development.
One of the main reasons why we solo travel. There are so many positives that come along with doing it alone. I am a firm believer that solo travel is a type of self-care. Now, I’m not talking about face mask and fluffy socks kind of self-care, but more of a “self-development, seeing your self-belief and confidence increase and finding a new type love for yourself” kind of self-care. The challenges during solo travel are tough, but they help you grow. Embrace them!
Disadvantages of solo travel…
1. Solo travel can be lonely.
Yes, there will be times you feel lonely. But, it’s how you choose to deal with this feeling which will make or break your solo adventure.
Firstly, don’t be hard on yourself if you do feel isolated. It’s pretty easy to feel lost when you’re out on your own. It is completely normal. You could be surrounded by 100 people on a tour and still feel like your alone. If you find yourself falling into this trap like this then take action:
- Stay in a hostel.
Staying in hostels connects you with like-minded people and I can bet the people who are staying there are also looking for a friendly face.
- Join different online travel communities.
I’ve met some of my closest friends through different travel communities, Facebook groups and apps. My two favourites are the WMGT travel community Facebook page (you can request to join here) or The Couchsurfing app. These are two really fun tools that you can use to interact with people who are also travelling.
Knowing you can get through this bump in the road will reinforce just how strong you are as a person.
2. You have to be aware of your safety at all times.
The idea of travelling on your own can be a bit scary, but doing a little bit of preparation can reduce those nerves that niggle on the back of your mind. A few little things that you can do to ensure your safety on your solo travelling adventure include: Sharing your location with a trusted family member at all times, keeping your phone charged at all times by bringing a battery pack and trusting your gut instinct (if a situation doesn’t feel right, get out).
3. Going solo can cost a little more.
When you’re on your own you don’t have the chance to split the costs of taxis, meals, and accommodation so you have to be a little bit more aware of what you’re spending. It can be a good thing though, as you have control over what you spend and where you spend it.
Advantages of group travel…
1. You create life-long friendships.
Group travel introduces you to some of the best kinds of people. Most travellers you meet on group tours will be very like-minded and have similar interests which give you the ultimate reason to connect. Despite the ups and downs you will experience on the tour, whatever you go through as a group will make you stronger as a whole. Everyone will have good days and bad days and it’s reassuring knowing you have someone there to talk to about it.
2. You get to share your new experiences with people.
Being able to express your excitement and gratitude with someone who understands is such a wholesome feeling. There’s nothing better than discussing your day with someone who explored it with you.
3. Tour companies plan an itinerary that you would have never come up with alone.
Another thing that is great about tours is their itinerary. There are things you get to do that you would never consider doing if you were solo, or, being based locally, things you’d never even thought of!
4. Group travel can be cheaper.
Group travel can save you money. The tours sound expensive when you first book, but all the things done individually as a solo traveller add up too. Most tour companies offer discounts during the year so make sure you keep an eye out for those.
5. Group travel can be safer.
It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy being on a tour. Having a guide, or even just company on a trip, gives you a great sense of comfort and provides you with a lot of ease knowing you are safe.
Disadvantages of group travel…
1. You have less freedom.
You’re on a tight schedule at all times. The time you spend travelling on a group tour is mapped out from start to finish. It’s often a tight squeeze fitting in everything you’ve signed up for. It can be both a blessing and a curse, especially when you fall in love with a certain city and wish you had an extra day or two explore.
2. Sometimes you don’t get along with everyone in the group.
You can’t get on with EVERYONE. It’s simply impossible. Your views and outlooks on life can clash and lead to mini disputes with others in the group. Unfortunately, it happened during my time in Thailand and caused quite a stressful time for the group. Everyone gets involved and every issue is everyone’s problem. The most important thing to do to resolve it is communicate and talk it out. Believe me, it’s worth discussing as a group to be able to move forward.
3. Privacy can be limited.
You can pretty much say goodbye to any kind of privacy on a group trip, unless you’ve paid that little extra for a private room. If you love your alone time then I’d highly recommend investing in a private room from time to time on your trip.
Being able to take a break from the company of others can work wonders on the group dynamic. You’ve all been thrown together on an amazing but intense trip. You’re on adrenaline highs but exhausted too, and so emotions run high. It can just be exhausting just to be around people! Now and then go for a walk by yourself and just enjoy the peace. It doesn’t come very often, so enjoy it while it does.
Recommended group tours…
- Xtreme Gap year – I used this company on my trip to Thailand. They have a great range of tours extending from gap years in Australia to safari tours in Africa.
- G Adventures – The offer small group tours with a wide range of activities included. They also offer some pretty epic money-saving deals throughout the year.
- STA travel – The worlds largest student and youth group travel company.
- RatPack Travel – not a tour operator, but a travel platform that will help you get the best prices on any trip or tour in Australia and New Zealand!
Still not sure about solo travel? Watch my video for all my top tips!
Do you want to join the ultimate travel family to get all the best top tips?
Are you travelling solo (or with friends!) and want to book onto a group tour?
Try a WMGT Adventure!
Adventures all over the world, helping you build connections stronger than wifi.
Have you been solo travelling? Or on a group tour?
If both, which did you prefer? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,