Solo Adventure Travel Takes Courage, But the Rewards are Worth It

The thought of solo adventure travel may have some people breaking out in a cold sweat, to others it’s their idea of a great adventure. Here I’ll try and give pro & cons to solo travel; the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a really tricky thing to portray, because everyone’s experience of solo travel differs; the experience of highs and lows, the great times and the not so good. Basic factors such as your destination, your personality and how much previous travel experience you have all need to be considered.

solo adventure travelSolo adventure travel; you'll never be alone for long. Locals visiting Gwalior Fort request I take their picture, Madhya Pradesh, India

If you’re new to the travel fray and thinking of going it alone, you could always plan to start out easy with a destination such as Thailand or Vietnam. Never think that you’ll always be by yourself; from my experience it’s easier to get to know locals when not travelling with a group, train and bus journeys can become long broken-English conversations about the state of Indian cricket!

I would say the biggest downside to solo adventure travel is not having someone to share it with; the highs and especially the lows. As we all know, travel doesn’t always go to plan. You get scammed, miss trains and get Delhi-Belly (sometimes all at once!). Having the support of a travel buddy at these times can make a real difference, particularly if you’re new to really adventurous travel. Again it comes back to a number of considerations such your temperament and an ability to see humour in situations, no matter how dire it may seem at the time.

The flip side of not having a travel companion is the ability to be more outward looking. Not being preoccupied or distracted by each other means engaging more with where you are and not necessarily who you’re travelling with. There will always be chances to meet fellow travellers and you’re bound to meet up with others on the road; you may very well end up travelling together for a while!

Taking backpacker transport is a great way to meet fellow travellers. Popular in South East Asia, I sometimes used dedicated bus services in Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and Vietnam. Although I wasn’t travelling solo at the time, it was good to be around other travellers and share stories. Of course spending time in tourist hubs like Delhi’s Paharganj or Pokhara Nepal you’re bound meet other travellers, whether it be over breakfast or a late evening beer overlooking the controlled chaos of Delhi.

Taking the odd tour here and there is another good way to meet fellow solo travellers. Sometimes it just comes down to luck, you might meet someone in the most remote of places yet find it hard to connect with other travellers in dense tourist hubs like Bangkok’s Khaosan Road area.

For woman, the question of whether to undertake solo adventure travel can be difficult. It certainly depends on your destination and whether you have previous travel experience. Travelling in parts of the subcontinent and in some Muslim and Arab countries, as a solo women traveller you might attract more attention than you wish for. This can certainly be unnerving and tiring, but in some countries (I noticed this in India) there are dedicated women only waiting areas in bus and train stations and women only train compartments and carriages.

Basic common sense applies; dress conservatively, have a fairly defined travel route planned, possibly book ahead accommodation and seek advice from fellow women solo travellers through online forums such as Lonely Planet’s Thorntree. Solo adventure travel for women is absolutely doable, and any dangers completely manageable with the right approach and mind-set.

It is better to travel solo than not at all! Man or women, solo adventure travel is quintessential independence. Freedom to travel where and when you want, to learn self-reliance and to ultimately have travel experiences that just wouldn’t happen if travelling as part of a group or with a partner. Happy solo travels!

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