Advantages and disadvantages of Solo vs Group Travel
Any travel has pros and cons. As an over 50 solo travel advocate, I can draft a long list of benefits for travelling alone as a woman. However, there are also disadvantages, but these vary depending on the circumstances and level of individual experience.
So I’d instead say that pros and cons can change if you dig deeper into a specific situation; you will see that advantages can turn into disadvantages too, and vice-versa.
To explain this a bit better, these are crucial things to consider when deciding to travel by yourself or join an organised group tour.
Five Pros and Cons of Solo Travel vs Group Travel
I regard this as no. 1 advantage for independent travel and the top reason for travelling alone. There is nothing that beat the privilege of waking up when you want and do what you want without having to compromise with anyone. That’s quite obvious. In an organised tour, you will have to follow a schedule and stick to a day-plan that can be flexible, yet it will limit your freedom.
Solo travel implies taking the entire work on you that travelling by yourself means researching your destination and planning your explorations to being vigilant of your surroundings, being your guide, and taking full responsibility. Group travel takes all of the above work off you. You get a ready-made plan and a tour guide who is often a local who knows all the nitty-gritty you will not find on the internet.
Cost of Travel
As a solo traveller, you are more likely to travel in a minimalist way and save money on all expenses; you don’t have to go out for dinner every night, you can skip on this or that extra activity. Guided trips and tours have a higher cost regarding businesses and services that make your trip more expensive than travelling on your own.
As a solo traveller, experiences will be restricted to a few, firstly because of safety reasons. Moreover, some outdoor adventures are better organised by a group because of the infrastructures and facilities that a group has access. As a solo traveller, you are more open to spontaneous adventures, and serendipity plays the most significant part.
No matter how much caution you take when you travel alone, you are better looked after in a group. Especially in remote regions as a single traveller, you are more exposed to risks and dangers; rescue is more comfortable for a group than for a single person.
All of the above can be evaluated from different perspectives. Depending on the level of expertise and experience you have as a solo traveller, pros and cons can significantly impact your decision whether to go alone or with a group.
The disadvantages of travelling alone
If you take a closer look at each point, you will see room for a more in-depth investigation. There are disadvantages of travelling alone that pop up only in specific situations, whereas some advantages may be more prominent in others. Here they are:
Keeping the cost of accommodation down
As a solo traveller, you need to be flexible with where you stay to keep solo travel sustainable. Hotels are often expensive because of double room rates. Instead of paying for the invisible companion, you are better off choosing a private room or budget accommodation. There are more flexible accommodation options with a group, at reasonable rates because you can share a hotel room with a travel buddy.
Missing out on Adventures
If you like hiking and being active in the outdoors, being on your own can be rewarding, as long as you know what you are doing and where you are going! Forests and Mountains can be quite tricky because environments are different.
Overseas trips can be challenging; that’s where a group can be a good idea if you want to explore new places without worrying too much. It works well for me, and I can highly recommend this strategy. First, go on a guided trip and then go back and explore more by yourself. A group tour is the best way to get introduced to a remote region of a country that may be too challenging to go by yourself.
Lack of Confidence
When you travel alone, it’s easy to meet people and other travellers and exchange thoughts. But when it comes to sharing an adventure, you may fear travelling alone, and you often give up. An escorted group is the best to offer a ready-made solution; with travel buddies to share an experience, the excitement about it, and the difficulties this brings.
Not feeling safe
If you travel alone as a woman and want to join a group, you will feel safer in those risky situations that will not make you worry about things like when you are alone. The bond that a group creates with your companions is unique, and it grows as they encourage you to do something together that you will not otherwise do.
The disadvantages of Group Travel
As much as group travel may sound simpler to you, it does have drawbacks too. And it does require proper evaluation all the time.
Locking in your Time
One of the biggest cons of group travel is that an organised tour tends to lock in all your time with too many planned activities. The eternal drawback of group travel is keeping a balance between travellers’ expectations while maintaining the well-deserved „me-time“.
Higher Cost of Travel
Guided trips are inevitably going to cost you more than travelling by yourself. That’s why a tour should bring that added value with exceptional experiences that are incomparable and where the money isn’t really on top of your decisional criteria.
Not meeting the expectations
Guided Tours can be good fun with a group of like-minded people. But because you travel with strangers, you cannot choose the tour companions, and there might be some that you don’t come along. Or maybe some activities or the tour guide are not up to your expectations. There are no 100% guarantees. Unexpected events also influence the success of the tour.
Lack of Authenticity
Many tours are pre-packaged, lack authenticity, and don’t offer unique things that you wouldn’t be able to do or find out by yourself. Researching for a suitable tour isn’t easy, but those small group tours engaging with local tour guides are the best.
Travel Companions versus Solo Travel Tours
People travel for many different reasons. Travel can change you, your mind and your values, as well as your approach to others. While there are advantages and disadvantages to travelling alone as a woman, the best is to find your way and mould different ways of travel into your style.
No matter what your solo travel style is and how you prefer to explore the world, at some stage you may not know where to travel alone, are likely to start looking for a travel companion and wanting to join a small group of like-minded travellers.
And there is nothing wrong with it. On the contrary, choosing to go on guided tours and finding travel companions can do wonders. It can become an incentive to travel more alone, spark up new ideas and adventures. It finally contributes to creating and perfecting your travel style and balance too.
But, hey, I know, it’s not easy to find travel companions that share your values and travel with the same purpose. There are way too many things that must fit to make it work.
On this post, you can read about the reasons for going on guided tours.
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First published in 2018, last updated in Jan 2021
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