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The year is 2082.

The hero that is Dwayne Douglas Johnson is half way through his 9th consecutive term as President of the United States which, at a sprightly 110 years old, makes him not only the longest serving President in US history but also the oldest Head of State to have ever existed in the whole history of Earth. Like, ever. Or at least for as long as official records have been around.

The UK is still floating around the ocean, bitter and lonely and forever resenting their decision to vote Leave. Not even that “special” transatlantic relationship circa 2017 was enough to save them from an eternity of regret. Still, who needs friends when you have an unlimited supply of shortbread and teabags, right?!

Nancy and I are sat there, rocking away on our old lady rocking chairs, as we’ve done every Sunday evening for the last at least 10 years, circulating ideas on how to celebrate our upcoming 90th and 91st birthdays.

All of a sudden, Nancy gasps, holding one finger in the air in a very Evil Genius-esque moment.

“Ethel*, I’ve got it! Let’s go on a girls’ holiday to Magaluf!”

*In case you’re new here and wondering why my name has been changed to Ethel, check out ep. 1 of the Ethel & Nancy saga.

Almost 90-year old Me knows she means well but really, Nancy?! A girls’ holiday?! 

You’re more likely to see me dancing the tango with a kangaroo in a tuxedo than catch me on a girls’ holiday anywhere, let alone Magaluf.

Now, I have nothing against girls’ holidays, nor do I have any issues with Magaluf as a holiday destination (that’s a bare-faced lie, I have all the issues with Magaluf as a holiday destination), but it’s just not me.

In fact, I don’t think it’s just “girls’ holidays” that don’t sit right with me, but group holidays in general.

Which is a little strange as, despite how I may sometimes come across online, I’m actually a relatively sociable and, dare I say, likeable person. I like talking to people. I like enjoying the company of others. I like sitting next to strangers on buses for 18 hours and hearing all about how they once got stuck down a mine for 3 days, surviving on nothing but graham crackers and probably-contaminated water (true story).

Bottom line: I like people.

But, for whatever reason, I just can’t travel with other people and enjoy myself as much as I would if I were alone.

I’ve tried. Lord knows over the years and my many, many trips abroad, I have tried.

I’ve travelled with old friends, I’ve travelled with new friends, I’ve travelled with a school choir, I’ve travelled with a boyfriend, I’ve travelled with an ex-boyfriend, I’ve travelled with family (well, a cousin…), I’ve travelled with strangers.

Short of travelling with a full-on circus and musical procession, I’ve tried it all.

And to be honest, as a general rule, I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every trip I’ve taken alone and with others. But on every trip I’ve taken where I’m joined by one or more persons, I’ve felt constantly on edge.

mt-misti-arequipa
So this photo was totally staged

When you’re with other people there’s this constant niggling feeling that you have to please them. You have to look after them.

We’re not just talking lengthy holidays here, but even something seemingly simple like going out for dinner.

You haven’t seen one of your best friends in what feels like a quarter of a century, so you invite them out for dinner at a new restaurant that’s just opened up down the road from your house. It’s already been on the receiving end of rave reviews on TripAdvisor, the local newspaper, and various local blogs and apparently serves the best enchiladas this side of Mexico.

As you were the one who suggested the restaurant, your companion’s overall enjoyment of the evening rests on your shoulders.

You spend the whole evening nervously glancing at them in between bites of your taco salad, wondering if they’re enjoying themselves. Maybe you shouldn’t have pushed them to order the enchiladas, you think. Maybe fajitas would have been a better bet. Actually, maybe you shouldn’t have come here at all. You should have gone for the safe option – a restaurant you’ve both visited, and enjoyed, before.

By the end of the night, if your friend hasn’t enthusiastically expressed just how much they loved the kitsch decor of the place, how the enchiladas were perfectly spicy without making you want to drain Loch Ness of all its water, and how the waiting staff was wonderfully attentive without being overbearing, you feel like a failure.

You feel personally responsible for the fact that they didn’t enjoy themselves as much as they would have had you gone to Nando’s instead. (Because everyone loves Nando’s)

Now imagine all of that, but with a whole freaking holiday instead of just a few hours.

When I travel, I travel for me

It sounds selfish, but it’s the truth. I go somewhere because I want to go there (or because Ryanair are having one of their bloody fantastic sales and I buy tickets because £20 return to the other side of Europe?! Why the devil not?!). I want to see the world, and I don’t want to wait around for a time that’s convenient for others.

kerala-nature-park
Evidence that I do, on occasion, venture out of my lonely comfort zone

The beauty of travelling alone is that, much like living alone, you can do whatever you want whenever you want. The only living being you’re responsible for is yourself. The only mood you have to care about is yours. The only stomach you have to feed is your own.

Travelling alone is easy.

Throw somebody else into the mix and WOAH EN, suddenly there’s like a whole other person you have to consider in your everyday decision-making. There’s another mouth to feed, another body to keep hydrated, another attention span to keep. There’s another human involved. Someone else to keep happy.

When I travel alone, if I want to hit up 6 museums and 3 coffee shops in one day, I’ll do just that. Likewise, if I want to skip out on all the sightseeing and just relax with the latest addition to my Kindle and a tube of BBQ Pringles, I’ll do that too.

But when you’re with someone else, you have to consider what they want to do. You have to consider when they want to eat. You have to think about whether they’re just as interested in seeing a mushroom museum as you are. And if they don’t want to see a mushroom museum, are they really worthy of your friendship?!

In my eyes, travelling with someone is very much like being in a relationship with them. It’s a two-way street, mutual respect is key, you have to think of others and all the rest of those cliché sentences you find on the inside of a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card.

I’ve actually been on a holiday with friends which resulted in the termination of a decade-long friendship simply because there was a lack of mutual consideration and respect for one another. And trust me when I say, that’s not something I want to happen again.

Travel, for me, is about freedom. 

Being able to go off and see the world and experience new cultures and sample new flavours and learn new languages and dance around a campfire in the middle of the Amazon rainforest like nobody’s watching. Which, if your travelling alone, is kind of true because nobody is watching.

I’m not completely against travelling with other people and more than likely will do so again in the near future, but I just know that I won’t enjoy it as much as I do when I travel alone.

Because when you travel alone, there’s no pressure to please or pander to somebody else. The only person that matters is yourself, and I really bloody like that.

In the future maybe I’ll find someone who is totally compatible and in-tune with me and all my travel-y stuff, and that will be absolutely fantastic because I’ll finally be able to get those back of the head shots I’ve been dying to get for years. Hey, maybe Nancy will even be that person!

But for now I am totally, 100% a-okay with going it alone. 


 I’d love to hear your thoughts on travelling alone — are you a solo travel? What’s your reason for it? And if not, why not?

Don’t forget to pin me! If, you know, you want to. 

42 Comments

  1. Yes, yes to everything you wrote! I very much prefer to travel alone; when I travel with people, I get so anxious that I’m being too demanding, too selfish of wanting to do certain things or taking up too much time with photos. It feels as if, no matter how hard I try to be accommodating for their interests or how chill they are with just about anything, I get the constant, nagging sensation that I’m asking too much of them for our travel together. I’m sure that this is all in my head, though, but all the same, it comes down to mutual understanding, as you wrote.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I’m so in tune with basically everything you’ve just said! In January I went on a trip with one of my very best friends who is one of the most laidback people in the world, yet still found myself constantly asking him if he was okay, if he was mad at me, if I was bugging him. By the end of day 2 my incessant questioning definitely WAS bugging him! It’s much more peaceful and hassle free when it’s just me, myself and I 😀

  2. Just this year, I’ve started to think of travel as “me time”. I’m like you in that I like people a lot – but I don’t want to be round them 24/7. Yet, living in a big city means that you are around people constantly – at home, at work, wandering around the streets. Sometimes it’s nice to switch off and not talk to anyone you know for days on end which is what the minimal amount of travel that I’m doing atm allows me.
    And you’re right – it’s extremely difficult to find people who will want the same thing out of a trip that you do. I travel well with one of my friends and my family (through years of forced repetition while growing up) and that’s about it. Better to just go it alone and save yourself and your friendships from any kind of strain.
    Magaluf sounds like Kuta in Bali. That’s not a good thing.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Your recent road trip is my lifetime goal right now, just FYI.
      See, I travel well with almost everybody I attempt to travel with. But only for 2 or 3 days max., then things go downhill pretty sharpish. I get irritable and cranky and stressed out that they’re stressing out and it’s resulted in an almost-homicide more times than I can count!
      Magaluf is undoubtedly Hell on Earth. I’ve never actually been, but then I’ve never been to Hell either sooo.

  3. I’ve done a fair few short solo trips this year, and have really enjoyed the flexibility that comes with them. It means I can stop for ages to take photos if I want to, or visit museums that my boyfriend/ friends wouldn’t be interested in and not feel like I’m wasting anyone’s time. I’ve only done a couple of trips with larger groups of people, and I find the main problem with those is that it takes forever and a day to agree on what to do/ see/ eat because people are so insistent on doing everything together. (Great in principle, but not so practical in practice.) I tend to be a get-up-and-go type person on holiday, so sometimes find it frustrating when others take forever to get ready (usually for make-up related reasons). Growing up, I holidayed with my family (and went on a few UK-based overnight school trips). Nowadays, most of my travelling is done with my boyfriend, who’s pretty easygoing with where we go and what we do when we’re there. He puts up with a few museum visits and in exchange I wander round second hand camera shops with him!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      “because people are so insistent on doing everything together” – YES! This bugs me SO much. Would it really hurt to split up for a couple of hours?! No. No, it would not hurt at all.
      I’m with you in the get-up-and-go corner! I travelled around Europe by train with a couple of female friends a few years ago and the length of time they’d take to get ready in the mornings was insane! I mean, they looked nice and everything but still, insane!
      Aww, sounds like you guys make the perfect compromise! 🙂 When I travelled with my ex (before he was my ex) there was none of that. He was firmly “I’ll do what I want to do and nothing else”. Maybe that was an early sign we were not meant to last haha.

  4. I dribbled a bit of my coffee when I realised Nancy and Ethel were back.

    I totally get this. I have only done it once but loved every second of it and had planned to go traveling alone when I fell in love with aaron and that plan kind of changed. I saw someone describe themselves as an extroverted introvert and I can relate to that. I think outwardly I seem sociable etc so people are extra disappointed when I flake or want to be alone.

    I do enjoy traveling with aaron but he’s the only person I think I could handle now. I couldn’t go away with friends. I don’t think we’d come back as friends haha.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I dribbled a bit of my water when I read your first sentence. I think they’ve inadvertent become my blogger’s block unblocker – my mind is empty and then OH HEY THERE NANCY AND ETHEL.

      See, that’s cute. I like that. As much as I love being a lone dragon right now, one day I reckon it’d be quite nice to have that super compatible travel companion to share an armrest with. But for now I’ll bat away social interaction with a really big stick.

      (P.S. I hope your “People you can handle travelling with” list grows by 1 eventually. I’ve heard it’s not okay to leave your baby in the airport terminal!)

  5. Amber Pittman Reply

    First of all, I totally like your writing style. 🙂

    Second, it is soooo nice to be able to travel alone and just go do whatever I want (like hit up all the best dessert places in whatever city I’m in). I don’t get to do it often so I’m totally down with this post. More often than not, I have my husband with me. No problems there, luckily; but like you said, you also have to appease their desires for their trip too.

    I’m actually in the middle of planning a girls’ weekend and I am not excited about it. It’s for a bachelorette kind of thing. The only things they seem to be interested in doing is shopping and going to bars, which we could all do at home and spend way less money.

    I’m the only one interested in any sort of cultural tours or even foodie tours for daytime activities. Since I’m outvoted 3 to 1 on the issue, I’ll be hanging in that back bored out my mind. That’s my main reason for not liking Girls’ Weekends… At least until I meet more people who are actually into learning a culture & all that.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Ooh, thank you so much! 😀
      Dessert places – all the YES! You sound similar to me. I don’t drink alcohol and about as far from a shopaholic as you can get (except for stationery – I’m a notebook hoarder). What I want from a trip anywhere is culture, food and the occasional adventure/outdoorsy thing.
      You need to get yourself over to Wales – we can go on a girls’ weekend minus the alcohol and shopping, plus the culture and food! Also, we have Doctor Who… Just saying 😉

  6. I agree with you 100% that it is better to travel alone and you’ve added some good reasons in here that I didn’t realize until now. The example of the restaurant and wondering throughout the meal if your companion will enjoy it is a good example. Also doing what you want throughout the day, for example if we were traveling together we would disagree about visiting 6 museums in one day, we would definitely agree about the coffee shops though, as we would agree about the BBQ Pringles. I would go as far to say that only incompetent travelers need to travel with someone else.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oooh, controversial final sentence there James 😉
      When I say 6 museums in a day that’s definitely a gross exaggeration! The most I’ve managed is 3 – and they were all pretty quirky/fun and not bore-you-to-sleep type places.

  7. Travel is 100% about freedom to me too. I agree that it can be easier to travel aone because you only have to worry about your own wants and needs. I really love how you said ‘when I travel, I travel for me’. I feel the same way, however I tend to get lonely if I am on my own for too long. But I think this may have inspired me to try traveling alone again! Awesome article.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      One of the best things about travelling alone, though, is that you don’t have to be alone the whole time! Joining up with a walking tour or even just hanging out at a hostel with complete strangers is enough to keep loneliness at bay 😀

  8. I totally get this! Although to be honest I do like travelling with SOME people haha. Luckily one of them in my husband. When we travel together it’s a completely different style though. I think the key is knowing you can do your own thing. When I went backpacking with a friend in South East Asia we werent joined at the hip. We did separate activities if we wanted, went out and had a huge exploring day while the other lazed by the pool, etc. It’s not having the expectation that either of you is in charge, and that you’re responsible for the other. You have to do what you want for you holiday, even if you’re travelling with someone and that means separating!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I’m absolutely loving that so many ladies are mentioning their husbands! 😀 I imagine that after making such vows as, you know, til death do you part, travelling together would be a breeze!
      Sounds like you and your friend had the perfect situation going on for you there in SE Asia! Most of the times I’ve travelled with others it’s been a case of me (or them) saying “Oh, I’m going to do this” and the other one inviting themselves along whether they’re welcome or not!

  9. I agree 100%! I never have as much fun traveling with others (except my husband), especially a larger group, and try to avoid it when possible. I always end up getting roped in to doing something less fun than what I suggested because the ringleader doesn’t care about what anyone else wants to do. I love being able to make my own decisions and not have to worry about someone not wanting to go to that amazing food stall I’ve been dying to go to and me ending up mad at them the rest of the trip for ruining my foodie dream.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Totally with you there! I don’t drink alcohol (never have, probably never will) yet have ended up at a beer/wine/other alcohol-focused event more times than I can count! Definitely don’t harbour any resentment for missing out on all the other fun stuff I could have gotten up to..

  10. I have traveled all my life but never actually gone on a trip on my own except for business trips. I think it is definitely something I would love to do one day, I just have not chosen the right place to visit where I would love to see and explore on my own….maybe India. Loved this post.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh wow, if you go for India as your first solo non-business trip that really would be jumping straight in at the deep end! Such a beautiful country but somewhat overwhelming at times haha. I’m glad you enjoyed, thanks for reading 😀

  11. This is such a fresh perspective for me! I usually travel exclusively with my family and occasionally with friends. I recently had an overnight trip my myself and I was amazed at how relaxing it was! I loved not having to worry is my companions were having a good time or rearranging my itinerary to accommodate people.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      With 2 little ones I can’t even begin to imagine how relaxing a night all to yourself would have been! Although I imagine it’s not something you’d be wanting to do too frequently as a mother, you’d miss your adorable boys too much!

  12. You’ve got some solid arguments here for traveling alone! I’ve done both and prefer traveling with other people, but it has to be the RIGHT people – I’ve had some awful travel experiences with certain folks and can empathize with the pressure of trying to keep your travel companion happy. Re: the back of head shots, just buy a cheap tripod! Works like a charm 🙂

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I’ve been mulling over the idea of a tripod for a while now BUT what happens if I turn around and someone comes swooping on in and swipes it, along with my phone/camera?! I’m a worst-case scenario kind of gal haha.

  13. I have never traveled alone. I know the feeling well of thinking you need to please others. I could do without it at times but we travel as a family :p haha

    • rhiydwi Reply

      I imagine with kids that pressure is somewhat magnified! You want to constantly make sure your kids are having fun on trips – but at the same time, isn’t that what parenthood’s all about? 😀

  14. What a fun post. LOL! Now I travel with the kids in tow and believe me…there is no me time. LOL! Before the kids came along I traveled with a friend and it was fun. We managed to compromise and enjoy sharing, but without the right friend I can see how traveling alone would be an absolute necessity!! Love this funny post. When I’m a 90+ traveler we’ll totally have to do a girls trip.

  15. Yes! Yes! Yes! To all the stuff here, yes!!

    I just returned from my first solo trip – and I”m a 45 year old mom of teens. It was awesome. Really! I LOVED it. In fact, I loved it so much, i’m having to kind of tamp down on my enthusiasm a bit now that I”m home among the hubby and kids. Because even though I really, really love them. They are my favorite people. Traveling without them, traveling and following my own interests for the day, being in my own mind, worrying about food when I needed it, stopping for coffee ALL I WANTED… it was really luxurious when I’m used to worrying about feeding and entertaining our party of four most of the time. It’s entirely different, and I love it.

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Oh wow, SO glad you loved going solo!

      I can only imagine how much more immense it must have been for you after however many years of having to look after everybody else’s needs and interests first!

  16. I agree with sooo much of this! I think a huge amount depends on who you are travelling with – I mostly travel with my partner, and he doesn’t have as much get up and go as me, but he’s pretty laid back about it. If he doesn’t want to do something, he’s happy for me to go and do it without him. If he wasn’t, we would have had a LOT of problems. Have I missed out on anything I wanted to do? Sure, and that’s why I totally agree with you! I love the company, but sometimes it’s nice to get out on your own and not have to worry about anyone but yourself. There’s nothing quite like that freedom.

  17. I’ve never travelled alone – I just never got the opportunity.
    But you make some really good points, especially about compromising with your companion. And arguments are never fun!
    Luckily my husband and I have the same interests, and if one of us wanted to do something the other didn’t, we’d either suck it up or go alone. However there is one place I really want to go and he has sworn he will never visit so perhaps I’ll get the opportunity to go it alone one day!
    Oh, and the Rock for President. I’m on board even though I’m not American.

  18. HA HA. I loved the post. The opening is stellar. You have a great sense of humour. I can totally relate to the post as I am a solo traveler and have friends too 🙂

  19. Priyadarshini Rajendran Reply

    You are spot on about the freedom and solo travel is so easy too. I used to do that before kids..and now dreaming about it 😀

  20. I loved reading this and you have some really good points for solo travel. I love how you spoke about the restaurant as a mini example, I always feel super bad when I suggest something and someone else doesn’t enjoy it! I am not brace enough to solo travel just yet and I am way lucky that I don’t feel stressed at all when traveling with my partner. ☺✌?

  21. I completely understand your point of view. Travelling is more exciting and beautiful when you are on your own. I have friends who have left me when I was out with them. Some of them had their own things to do and so I did too. However, no bad feelings towards each other. I like to do things on my own because I want freedom. Others have said that I am aloof but I am actually embracing that part of me who can be decisive. Cheers to you!

  22. You had me until “taco salad.” lol I joke! Great read. All so so true. You put into words what I have felt often. Traveling alone brings me so much joy. YAS!

    • rhiydwi Reply

      Hahaha, I once ate a taco salad and it was disgusting.

  23. There is something about not having anyone to worry about but yourself. I have only traveled solo a couple of times, but each time was great. Whatever I wanted to do I could do without seeing if anyone else was interested, or if they would be upset if I skipped something they wanted to do. I definitely want to take a few more solo trips soon.

  24. I agree with EVERYTHING! Only two of my friends I have found it okay to travel with. Even so I know after a few days we get on each others nerves. I love being a solo traveler. I can be an intense traveler – which I’m aware of – so I’d rather be intense by myself than ruin someone else’s trip.

  25. One thing I love about travel is that there are SO many ways to approach it–and all of them are right! 🙂 I love that you’ve discovered that solo travel is what makes your heart happy when others might feel pressured to keep traveling with a friend because that’s the typical scenario. I am really, really picky about who I travel with: my favorite travel partners are my husband and kids. There’s always a little give and take between what we all want to do, but I genuinely enjoy spending time with them, and having them there always enhances my trips. But if I couldn’t travel with them, I would definitely travel solo!

  26. I totally agree with you. I travel alone for the same reason of you and I closed a friendship after a week in Berlin. I just came back from my second trip in Vienna alone and standing in a park in the afternoon reading a book without anyone telling me why we’re not visiting a museum or anything else was amazing. Only when I’ll find someone similar to me I’ll think about traveling together.

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