I am currently traveling for 4 months(time flies) and I have already noticed the differences between solo and group/couple travels in first month. There are advantages and disadvantages on the topic of traveling, cons and pros are everywhere.
1. Your choice
What I like the most and is pretty known thing about solo travels is freedom. I do what I want, when I want. I do not have to make compromises on my buddy or group decisions. It is pretty simple and I like it. On the other hand I noticed it gets more annoying when I go with a small group and I need to make compromises I do enjoy it sometimes, as it takes the freedom from me. Everyone has different style of seeing sights and monuments, I see things how they work and take advantage of that, I like to walk or get temporarily very uncomfortable for purpose of money or experience. I just think I am better than everyone else! Haha, what I mean is I like it my way.
2. Transportation and hostels
I find the solo transportation easier. There is usually space for one more and if you decide to hitchhike or ask some people to take you few kilometers, it is usually possible. You cannot do that with a group, maybe a couple. Hostels are bit questionable whether it is better or not, but if you are ok with dorms, then it is mostly cheaper than double room. If I am lucky I team up with somebody and we rent a room together as it is quite nice to change from dorms to private rooms. As mentioned in the beginning, the main advantage is there is always (most of the time) space for one more.
I remember from my short solo trips around Europe, I got lonely and I was sad about it. Here in South East Asia I feel like I have always met some other travelers and locals. We had always good chat, long or short, about the trips, ideas, life, travels and tips. I have been few time alone in the evening, but it was my choice as I wanted to be alone and read my book and be on my computer. I think loneliness is perceived as disadvantage, but I think it depends on who you are and what you like. Some people like to do stuff during the day and then stay in bed and read a book or watch a movie. I somehow developed skill to meet interesting people or it is just Asia 🙂
Now I returned to the article after 3 months and my views on life are little bit developing.
4. Sight-seeing vs culture and people
I have always been person who is enjoying cities, natural landmarks and sights. I preferred city hidden corners, hikes in the mountains with rewarding views and interesting monuments. I am not sure if it was because I was shy or just did not want to talk to people. I could say it was more concentrated on inner feeling and static things, which cannot question me.
On the other hand, now days I prefer to talk to people, eat and spent money on delicious food and have a connection with places I visit. To be honest I would say I prefer to meet interesting people over seeing monuments. This is definitely one of the biggest changes I can see on myself.
Before I left for Asia, I was spending 3-4 nights a week on sport activities. I would say it was pretty busy and I enjoyed it a lot. I was in good shape and game of squash was still improving, even after 5 years. I have been doing some sport maybe 10 days all together, it was not full days of sport though. I miss it and I know I am definitely out of shape. I like walking, I prefer to walk over taking short bus ride. Hiking on mountains is sometimes demanding, but it is not proper sport. Even though I enjoy travels, at the same time I am looking forward to a place to stay longer and keep myself busy with sport.
6. Family and friends
Obviously there are times when I feel lonely and I would love to spend evening with my parents and my sister or go for a good beer with my friends. The only thing I can do is keep in touch with modern technology – messengers and Skype. The other side of this point is that I meet lots of people and sometimes I am lucky enough to meet great people. I am happy to spend extra days with them and postpone my plans. This is a way to meet new friends, but I do not think I can compare it to my real friends, who I know for years and decades.
7. Does traveling change you to be different person?
First of all, it depends how you travel. In my opinion if you always travel with agency or just follow somebody, you do not experience the unknown. If you don’t experience and challenge unknown, how are you expecting to change? On the other hand sometimes it is still unknown even with a tour or guide, when traveling in Asia. They always surprise you with something or famous strategy. Fit many people in the vehicles, more than you could imagine 🙂
Secondly it also depends how much time you have for yourself, meaning that you think about your days, your experiences, about yourself, how you feel and process those feelings under different circumstances.
I think I changed, because of my way of traveling. I try to do different things every week or two. I try to talk to strangers more. I do have time to process my feelings. I don’t like to travel infamous “low-cost”. Meaning that I don’t stay in 5 star hotels, but I spent money smart. I spent money to enjoy life, see and do things. That way I am opening to new things and that way I can change to be different and possibly happier.
From my own experience, I see I am bit different and definitely developing myself in a way I didn’t know about. Therefor my recommendation to those who are looking for meaning of life, are feeling bit lost or just don’t know what to do next: save some money and go to travel around Asia or possibly different continent for longer than 2 months. By doing that you might realize new things about yourself. What else is there to explore than yourself? I was lucky enough that my parents were always so nice to me and gave me the habit of spending money on experience rather than materialistic objects. I do not own much, but I have tons of memories and experiences. It made me who I am and I feel great about it.
P.S. will be funny to look at those articles 10 years after and laugh about it how stupid I was 🙂