Before I left for study abroad, there were two things I knew for certain: 1.) I wanted to visit Budapest. 2.) I wanted to travel somewhere by myself. After arriving in Prague and beginning to plan out my trips for the semester, it became clear that the only way for me to visit Budapest would be to travel there by myself.
Even though I’d known for a long time that I wanted to take a solo trip during my time abroad, my decision to actually do it wasn’t an easy one. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty scared. I would be conquering a new city, country, language, currency, etc. But unlike my previous trips, I would be taking this on completely by myself. Not to mention the fact that while guys are free to travel solo around Europe, girls are often cautioned against doing so for safety reasons. And if you know me at all, you know my overactive imagination convinced me out of this trip several times.
Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t end up going to Budapest. So what changed? For one thing, the trip was scheduled for April 14th (I know, I’m very behind on writing these blog posts), over halfway through my semester. By the time the trip came around, I knew I would have accumulated enough traveling experience to manage just fine on my own. However, the main reason I ultimately decided to go was because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. I desperately wanted to see Budapest, and I knew the only thing stopping me was me. So, I pushed myself outside my comfort zone and booked a bus to Budapest.
My actual trip to Budapest is discussed in another post (coming soon!!!) because in this post I wanted to focus on my experience of traveling alone. Here’s a Pros/Cons list (well, Cons/Pros) for anyone considering solo traveling.
Sometimes it’s scary
Let’s be honest, being alone in an unknown city/country can be pretty scary. It’s up to you to decipher a new language, figure out directions, and find transportation. It’s pretty terrifying to be lost alone at night in an new place (yes, that happened to me once). But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? And since it didn’t kill me, I’m definitely better off because of it now.
It might seem superficial, but pictures are an important part of traveling. Everyone wants pictures to help remember their trip. But, as you might expect, traveling alone makes it sorta difficult to leave with pictures of yourself on vacation. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t this why selfie sticks were invented? And to that, I say probably. But when you’re awkward with selfies like I am, selfie sticks aren’t really an option. And without a selfie stick, your only option is asking strangers to take pictures of you. So in my case, that meant leaving Budapest with lotsss of landscape photos.
Traveling alone is more expensive and more work
If you’re cost-conscious, traveling with other people makes your trips less expensive. Ubers and hotel room costs can add up, so it’s always nice having other people around to help share the financial burden. Solo traveling also means it’s up to you to plan everything: restaurants, museums, tours. Something to consider if you don’t love to plan.
It can be lonely
Besides their money and photo-taking skills, travel companions are great company too. I’m a pretty big proponent of alone time, so this one surprised me. As much as I love my time alone, traveling solo could sometimes be pretty lonely. Some things just aren’t fun to do alone, such as eating dinner, going out, or certain activities (in Budapest, the thermal baths). Unfortunately, at times, traveling alone was more lonely than it was relaxing.
Traveling alone is a very freeing feeling. No worrying about the needs and concerns of your travel partners. Every choice is yours; it’s just you, yourself, and you.
You’re in charge of your schedule
Being in charge of your own schedule means you’re completely free to do or see whatever you want. You can eat when you’re hungry or go back to the hotel and rest when you’re tired. Hell, you could spend all day in your hotel room if you wanted (but like, please don’t do that). You get to make your trip into whatever you want it to be.
Having your own hotel room is bomb
One of my favorite parts about traveling alone was having a hotel room to myself. I loved being able to spread my stuff out everywhere, sleep diagonally in a Queen-sized bed, and take up the bathroom for as long as I wanted. It’s the little things, y’know?
It’s a confidence booster
Traveling alone made me feel more capable and independent. If I could conquer a new city and country all by myself, what else could I do?
I’m so glad I pushed myself to travel alone. I learned so much and it allowed me to see a really amazing city that I wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise. While in the future you’ll find me mostly traveling with friends and family, I won’t shy away now if the opportunity arises again to travel solo.