Other than AirBnB and GoPro, solo traveling has become the most happening thing in the travel world in recent years, especially for women. The ladies I know are either embracing it or at least talking about it. All the females travel bloggers I admire and look up to, are seasoned solo female travellers.
That being said, I am here to confess that:
I am a woman who doesn't like solo traveling
The realisation should have come much sooner when I spent a miserable winter in Beijing (except when I ate those delicious spicy Chinese food there) and wrote about having failed in solo traveling. But it was only recently that it became crystal clear to me, when I spent a few days alone in Tokyo, that solo traveling is definitely not my thing.
It took me some time to register this because I love the concept of 'me time'. I am a closeted introvert who yearns to be alone after socialising, else I will be sad or grumpy or cray cray, or all of those qualities combined.
I see myself as a wolf who moves in a pack. Whenever I am traveling, I am always happier if I go with people. Therefore, I always try to convince my friends to go somewhere together or think of the possibility to pack them in my suitcase because a brave solo traveler, I am not.
Here are Reasons why solo traveling isn't all that:
Solo traveling means shorter relaxation time
I am so used to making decisions by myself since forever, but I don't like doing it while traveling. On the road, I am the tag along kinda girl; the Rachel of the group. I like to relax and follow the lead. In a foreign place, everything is a new adventure anyway.
Traveling with awesome sauce friends is better
My friends have wanderlust souls and I love seeing the place I travel to from their points of view too. Through the things they like, what they get curious and excited about. With them around, I get to see more, learn more and enjoy more which ultimately heightens my own experience.
Being a scaredy-cat outside the comfort zone
As much as I try to be brave and stuff, I tend to get uncomfortable while traveling, what with it literally being outside of my comfort zone. Especially if I am alone, without my friends to reassure me that my behaviour is normal, or at least acceptable (by them). This varies from staring at colorful socks for a long time trying to decide who else might need socks back home so that I can buy more, to taking pictures of Miaw, my soft toy, at tourist landmarks.
We get to eat more food when traveling with my friends
It's simple math really: friends' food + my food = more food
Also, most of my friends are adventurous, which means either I have to try an unusual food because it's normal for them, or they are brave enough to try weird stuff and I got peer pressured to try it too. To date, I have never regretted it.
Traveling with a pack strengthens the bond
Someone told me once that if I want to know a person better, I should travel with them and I couldn't agree more.
I get to know my friends so much better, the real version of them, every time we travel together.
Fortunately for me, I am surrounded by awesome-sauce people who open up new worlds for me, who I can always count on, who add to my life experiences in one way or another; especially when we are traveling together. The times we spend on the road make me treasure our friendships even more.
Feeding a secret obsession is easier while traveling together
I rarely admit this in public, but I am slightly obsessed with photo booths. And every slightly obsessed photo booth person knows that it's best done with friends. The many silly faces stuck on my fridge door would attest to this. Another obsession of mine is to the local version of bubble tea whenever I travel.
Solo traveling makes it harder to share cheap wine
What goes together with a budget vacation? Cheap alcohol, that's what.
It has been a long-standing tradition (created by me) to stock wine bottles, or a local equivalent, in the mini fridge to be drunk slowly on our leisure nights abroad. I am the most loyal fan of the sharing-new-found-alcoholic-drinks-and-finger-food-bought-from-the-convenience-store-among-friends-in-a-foreign-land club. On the contrary, as much as I love to pull an Olivia Pope and gulp wine after a long day of work, getting drunk alone and away from home is not my version of a happy vacation, budget or otherwise.
Reminiscing travel times is best done together
My memory sucks, we all know that. Other than the few things I can retain in my brain and this blog, I get to relive my travels whenever my friends say, "Remember that time when we were at..?" That's just terrific for me.
Getting Instagram worthy travel snaps of oneself
I am not a fan of selfies; I feel uncomfortable having a stranger taking my pictures and I never understand when people tell me to smile for the camera.
The camera is a big black box, why would I smile for it?
I have an unrecognisable smiling picture of me inside the Sagrada Familia, taken by a random person. I was half shy and half scared that he would run away with my big black box. These are the reasons why I prefer that my friends take my pictures, so I can do cheesy touristy poses while smiling at them.
Don't get me wrong, I don't condone solo traveling. If the choice is only between not traveling or doing it alone, I choose solo traveling.
But in my case, most of the time, I will always try to convince my friends to go together, even if it means making some sort of compromise because I know I will be having a much better time with them around. In short, instead of sharing my travel pictures on social media for my friends to comment on, I prefer to pack them along with me.