Off late, a lot of heat has been generated on the web with regards to solo travel for women, as in whether it’s good or bad, should it be done or not, so on and so forth. There are those who vehemently believe that women should not be traveling alone, considering the safety risks involved. On the other hand, a lot of solo women travelers, relatively new as well as the veterans, have been voicing their opinions vociferously about why solo travel for women is doable and should be encouraged. There is a new hashtag on twitter #WeGoSolo and it has found huge support from most women travelers, including myself.
My opinions about women traveling alone are detailed enough to warrant an entire post altogether. But, that’s not what I want to talk about today.
What I want to explore is another important question. One that (too) has forever been asked by long-term travelers-
Is it better to travel solo or with someone? Does one get more out of travel when traveling alone? Or can it be a shared endeavor? Does traveling with someone or in a group hinder the growth that we are otherwise supposed to experience when we travel?
This is a question that has fascinated me forever. I have read a lot about what other people have to say, for and against both motions. I have had first hand experience on both accords. Each time I’ve read something on this topic, I have tried to go back and reflect upon my own experiences to try and understand how I felt and more importantly, what felt better.
Truth be told, it’s been hard to come up with one clear answer.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more I have felt that there cannot be one answer. No one style of traveling is better than the other. Travel is an extremely personal pursuit and how one experiences it better is also an extremely personal choice.
The argument that goes in favor of solo travel is that one tends to be more aware of ones’ surroundings, more open to interacting with strangers and more reflective when traveling alone. This is absolutely true and cannot be denied. I myself have been more outgoing, ready to mingle when I have been on a solo trip.
But then there is also the need to share.
The wonderful sunset that you are watching, that mind-blowing dish that you just ate, the wonderful new spot that you accidently came across- there is an inherent need amongst us all to share these moments. It’s a gratification that we all crave. And this is true even of solo travelers. The only difference is that in today times, a physical presence is not required to get this need fulfilled. That part has been effectively taken care of by social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
In fact the popularity of these platforms and their success is testimony to the fact that almost all human beings (barring a few exceptions) are looking to connect with other people. The urge to write, exhibit and share ones work too, in a lot of ways, stems the fact that when we undergo an experience, we want to tell someone about it.
In that sense, traveling with someone serves that purpose pretty well and almost instantly. Also, experiences that are shared together lead to stronger bonds and more meaningful relationships.
While traveling solo offers the freedom to alter plans and take spontaneous decisions, traveling with a partner or a group offers security.
Traveling alone, and this has been admitted by many long-term travelers, can get pretty lonely. You do make connections on the road but a lot of those can be fleeting and intangible. Traveling with another individual can go a long way in boosting the morale on a bad day.
The point of the matter is that either way, it’s an individual’s choice and different things work for different people. Personally speaking, after having gone solo and shared, I know that I prefer traveling with someone. Irrespective of what perks solo travel offers (and there are many), I am inclined to believe that I enjoy my trips more when I can share the moments of joy and discovery.
I find solo travel empowering but I am a social being. Somebody else might not be. It’s all ok as long as either one does not get categorized.
In the end, the debate remains. A lot of solo travelers believe themselves to be on higher ground. Solo travel is more challenging and more rewarding, it is commonly believed. Yes it is, and if it’s your thing, that’s great.
But if it does not work for someone else, appreciate that too. The last thing anyone wants is to be judged.
Isn’t that what we all are trying to run away from in the first place?