Why Solo Travel Sucks

October 17, 2015,

The idea for this post came to me while I was at the Barcelona train station – after getting on the wrong metro towards the train station and after having my water bottle leak in my purse (and on my computer). While emptying my purse and wiping the water from every item, I thought to myself: no one is here to feel bad for me! I spilled water in my purse and on my laptop but no one is here to witness it and feel bad for me (quite juvenile, no?) So yes – I seriously thought that. And I thought this is one of the many moments when solo travel sucks: there isn’t always going to be someone ready to comfort you or feel bad for you.Rome

Of course, this is a bit of a stretch and I’m playing around. But there are definitely moments if and when you travel solo when it sucks.

These are some of the many reasons why (and when) solo travel can suck.

No one is there to tell you if you have something on your face (or the back of your pants, or that your hairy is crazy, etc.)
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve left my airbnb (or hotel or hostel) to go to a restaurant or a museum with a clean face (yes, I checked before leaving) and once I go to the washroom a handful of hours later, I see a line of mascara across my cheek or forehead. First of all, how and when did that get there? Second of all, no one could have told me this whole time? Really?
When you’re traveling with friends or family (or anyone for that matter), they will tell you if you have something on your face (or anywhere else on your body or clothes) but strangers are less likely to (naturally). So, when you travel solo, expect to find weird marks on your face or body at times. Just accept it, wipe it off and move on (and use your phone or a mini mirror to do midday checks). I’m not kidding.

No one is there to look after your belongings
As someone who drinks a lot of water and spends the majority of the day outside, there are times when I am settled in somewhere (a café or library with my laptop, on a train with a big purse and luggage) but I must use the washroom. We know we aren’t supposed to leave our belongings unattended – at the risk of “losing them”. But the reality is if you get up to go to the washroom (and pack up your stuff to bring along with you), you will probably end up losing your seat. Also, bathrooms in trains are tiny and uncomfortable (and dirty) so you probably don’t want to bring your purse in there.
And remember, if you’re waiting in line and need to make a trip to the washroom, you will need to ask someone to hold your place. Good news, most (ALL) of the time people are helpful on this one.

No one is there to feel bad for you when things go wrong
I’ve already touched upon this one at the beginning of this post – no one was there to feel bad for me and witness my “pain” when I spilled water all over my purse and belongings. When you’re alone, you need to behave like a mature, calm, cool and collected person and just clean up after the (sometimes literal) mess you just made and move on.

Basically, solo travel sucks because you’re on your own. But it’s also great – and is what it is – because you’re on your own.
Traveling alone can be really challenging for people (like me) who live and have always lived closely with others. You’re used to having a support system, a friend or family member to keep an eye out for you, care about what happens to you and comfort you. When you’re alone, you’re just that – alone. You need to take care of yourself.Reasons Why Solo Travel Sucks / Barcelona, Spain

When things go wrong (and they will), when you can’t find your apartment, when you forgot what floor you’re on and try to open the neighbours doors with your key (I’ve done this), you really need to look within yourself for strength, patience and calm. You need to look at yourself for comfort – and this is something that takes practice and time. It’s a challenge and it sucks sometimes but in the end, you will learn how to comfort and truly care for yourself – emotionally –, which is one of the hardest things to learn. But after all, isn’t that something we should all learn how to do?

Share your thoughts in the comments below! Why Solo Travel Sucks // at happiestwhenexploring.com

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  • Reply David October 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Ya, but it teaches you that you need to try and deal with things on your own, and that people won’t always be there to ‘feel sorry’ for you. Being alone is important.

    Also, asking people for directions and such is a good way to meet new people and actually interact, so that if you’re travelling alone, you actually need to interact more than if you travelled with a friend or some one else you know.

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring October 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      Thanks for the reply. So true – in those situations, you have no choice but to ask strangers (who usually end up being very friendly, kind and patient). Truly amazing.
      Thank you!

  • Reply Ilena C. October 18, 2015 at 12:30 am

    The title grabbed me immediately! Well put. And yes, I totally agree that it is one if the hardest things to learn…to be kind to and care for ourselves. Now I will try not to be too harsh on myself.

    Enjoy Spain!

  • Reply Laura October 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Oh I love this! So true about “no one to feel bad for you”, haha, I’ve experienced this! But you’re so right it makes you stronger within yourself! ^.^ & I do love meeting new people and being alone kinda forces you too. There’s always 2 sides to each thing! Great post!!!!

  • Reply Antonietta di ioia October 19, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Si Erica e vero ogni giorno impariamo tante su noi stessi e su le persone intorno a noi e se impariamo ad accettarci ed essere indulgenti con noi stessi impariamo a farlo anche con gli altri a non pretendere la perfezione negli altri . nella vita di tutti i giorni si puo sperimentare di dover sbrigarsela da soli ma leggere le tue esperienze di solo travel e molto interessante e vorrei dire “illuminante” grazie per condividere le tue esperienze antonietta

  • Reply Steve V. October 19, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Yes, Erica, it must really be difficult to be in a country where you don’t really understand the language, and on your own. But as David points out above, you develop new skills being on you “own”. Skills that will serve you the rest of your life. See you soon!!

  • Reply Ana October 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    All good points. One thing I find difficult is not being able to share a beautiful moment with someone else. For example, when I found myself in the awe inspiring Albambra (Granada) a few years ago- I was happy to be there, but I found myself longing for someone to share it with, it would have made the moment that much more special. This was my first trip alone (I visited a few Spanish cities), I agree with you, you do learn a lot about yourself. We are much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for!

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring October 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      All very true! Thank you so much for your comment – I love what you said about sharing it with someone and the reminder about how resilient we are.

    • Reply Sarah Ashley March 5, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Definitely agree! Sometimes beautiful moments are nicely had alone, and sometimes you just want to turn to someone and smile and say “Isn’t this great?!”

      • Reply Happiest When Exploring March 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        Hey girl! You put that so well… enjoy your adventures and I hope we will cross paths (again) one day!

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