Thinking of that next big trip, but concerned about being on your own? Secretly afraid that upcoming BFF vacation might have you all at each other’s throats by the end of it?

Like most things in life, the choice between traveling alone or with others is full of tradeoffs, with pros and cons on each side. While only you can evaluate the specifics of your relationships, there are a few key considerations that will help guide any prospective solo or group traveler’s decision.

Whether driven by practicality, sentimentality or circumstance, looking at your options from these opposing views should help determine what feels right to you:

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Freedom vs. Support

Going Solo

When you travel alone, you’re free to do what you want at a moment’s notice. Want to spend hours wandering through the smallest shops you can find? No problem. Feel like partying – or staying in? No one’s around to make you feel guilty because they feel otherwise. This is especially true if your destination appeals to a niche interest of yours, whether it’s the local cuisine or obscure regional art. Your companion(s) may not share the same tastes.

Travel with Friends

On the other hand, traveling with others means you always have support. It means you’ll always have someone to help navigate hazy hangover mornings, even if they’re not feeling great themselves. Having trouble interpreting those signs in a foreign language? Another set of eyes may catch something you don’t. Plus, if those wanderings have you strolling around downtown late at night, it’s never a bad idea to have someone who can help watch your back.

If you’re looking at lots of driving, do yourself a favor and bring a friend – the ability to sleep in shifts instead of nodding off at the wheel can save your life. If you’re a young adult going off on that first big road trip, keep in mind that 55 percent of drowsy driving crashes are caused by drivers less than 25 years old, on their own. Don’t add to that statistic.

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Serenity vs. Sharing

Going Solo

Going solo guarantees there won’t be tension or disagreements with companions. Even the best of friends can get on each other’s nerves when traveling together. If you’re on your own, there’s no one else to butt heads with. Even if you start traveling with new friends, you’ll still be able to part ways if any issues arise – something you can’t do if you’re stuck with that person until after the flight home.

Travel with Friends

When you travel with others, sharing the experience both during and after can be the best part. You’ll always have someone to appreciate a beautiful sunset with you, or share that incredible new dish you’d never heard of. You’ll be able to bond over those exciting and new experiences. Years later, as your memory of all the details begins to fade, you’ll have someone with whom to relive those days, bringing up stories you may have forgotten, jokes and references that came to be because of the times you shared.

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Finding Yourself vs. Being Stuck With Yourself

Going Solo

Being a stranger in a strange land often leads to introspection that would be otherwise impossible. When you’re not surrounded by all the trappings of your life back home, including the people who are a part of it, it’s easier to admit hard truths. New environments help us gain renewed perspective as we break out of our routine and think differently. Solo globetrotters have ample opportunity to reflect on the issues in their lives, often reaching conclusions that hadn’t even occurred to them before the trip. When you’re on your own, you’re confronted by what you want daily – there’s no one to distract you from it.

Travel with Friends

You’re always stuck with yourself when traveling alone. That means no one to insert completely unexpected ideas in your mind. No friend to bring up a suggestion that you wouldn’t have considered – or dared to consider – on your own. While distractions may sometimes keep you from personal thought, they also let you escape yourself. Sharing a trip with friends means you’re not stuck with the same old you all the time, and may be a way to uncover something new about yourself through different points of view.

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So Which One Is Right for You?

There is no one general answer, even for a single person, since it all has to do with the circumstances of where you are in life and where you’re going. Why are you going there? Do you have key expectations, or are you just planning to wander? Is it all about soul-searching, or unwinding?

Thinking of going solo? You might want to check out Couchsurfing for affordable accommodations and new contacts wherever you go, or network with other travelers. Seasoned wanderers are often happy to share their tips and tricks. If that lonely, homesick feeling starts to hit you after the first couple of days, push right on past it – you’ll be happy you do.

If, on the other hand, all this makes you lean toward a group adventure, it pays to consider some practical issues to avoid problems – like being on the same page regarding the itinerary or tracking your shared expenses. While proximity can spark tensions that are tough to handle, have no doubt that traveling with groups – even big ones – is possible.

Enjoy the journey.


This is a guest post by Kayla Matthews.

Kayla_SquareKayla Matthews is a blogger who loves writing about travel, happiness-seeking and productivity. When she isn’t consuming excessive amounts of coffee, she’s managing her personal productivity blog, ProductivityTheory.com. To read more posts by Kayla, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter!