Traveling the world is great. You can see exotic places, make fantastic memories, tell incredible stories, eat new food, learn new things and meet wonderful people. Traveling is one of the most amazing things one can do with ones life. Nobody has ever said they regretting traveling. Not only this, but it also help you understand how this crazy world around us works and operates.
But traveling solo is one of the worst things you can ever do.
I suppose there are worse things you can do, like commit murder, but when it comes to seeing the world, doing it solo is lonely, awkward and dangerous.
Take for example, my time in London. I had forgotten to restock my money belt before my adventures around the city and I foolishly "donated" £40 to "the children" of a gypsy woman in exchange for a little purple flower. Had I been with somebody during that time, the lady might not have stopped me and I may have actually been able to visit the Tower of London. Or at least somebody would have explained to me that I was making a terrible mistake.
Another reason why traveling solo is terrible is the eating experience. I've been to a plethora of restaurants around the world, from food trucks to fish-ball kiosks to themed restaurants to cockroach infested temples. The food has gone from everywhere from incredible to absolutely horrid, but with nobody with me to experience the food and culture with me, I may have well been eating cereal in my apartment. The stories are great, but how can you explain a Frankenstein themed restaurant full of monsters, zombies, skeletons and a crazed doctor as a host to somebody who has never experienced it? Not to mention it is sometimes incredibly awkward to be a minority skin colour in a restaurant!
Getting lost in foreign cities is another of the greatest things about traveling because you can discover quirky, off the grid things other people don't often see, like the Aventine Keyhole in Rome or the sewer surfers in Munich. But after taking the wrong train in Paris and winding up 45 minutes outside of the city, or having to follow a bus around Rome for several hours because you don't remember where your hotel is, or you end up in the wrong hotel all together, or you wind up at the Hudson River instead of the East River in Manhattan, or being stuck outside during a typhoon, or for some reason having an bio-hazard truck full of several armed soldiers stop feet from you... you really wish you had somebody there with you.
There's the additional threat of being robbed, mugged or kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Some parts of the world are not safe, and violence can break out at any time, like Eastern Europe, the Middle East or parts of Mexico. Some people target tourists specifically, with special attention to solo travelers. I realize the world isn't always dangerous and that the media love to hype things up, but sometimes it's best to be safe and do research before going into questionable countries or dangerous parts of cities.
Another is photographing yourself in front of the world's greatest monuments, like the Eiffel Tower, or the Statue of Liberty. Selfies are great at working around this, but a selfie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't nearly as impressive as a full bodied picture. It also is very difficult to make it look like you're pushing the tower back up, while holding the camera. Being with a group can remove this problem.
The last reason why, in my opinion, is what happens when you come home. When you come back from somewhere, may it be Cuba or Scotland or Rome or Cairo, you come back with a clear mind and a heavy suitcase; the opposite of what you left with. All the drama you left behind feels like they're eons past. But the drama, the stress, the cultural ignorance and everything you needed a vacation from is waiting for you. The worse part of traveling solo is this: coming home with nobody to relate to. During my Contiki tour, Flip called this the "Post-Contiki Depression". This depression is common, and can have devastating effects if you have nobody to talk to. When you travel in a group, you can at least connect through social media or letters and help numb the pain. When you travel alone, there's nobody but your pictures, your pamphlets and your memories. Within a week these memories will fade and it will seem as if your trip was a dream. Traveling with somebody can remind you that the world is much bigger than your cubical, that there's much more to learn and see, and that the world is waiting for you.
People will tell you traveling solo is the best way to travel, but as somebody who has traveled in groups and by myself, in over 12 countries, the memories of my time with my new friends are something I know will never fade. These are my best memories, and I would have never made them if I traveled solo.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.