The pros and cons of solo travel: Why it's worth travelling alone

"Where should we eat tonight? How about that cool restaurant in Karakoy that gets all the great reviews?"

"Mmm, I was thinking maybe that food stall near the Grand Bazaar, the one where we bought those fabulous kebabs? And it'll be a whole lot cheaper."

"Yeah but that's a really touristy area and it's noisy and a massive slog to get up there and I'm exhausted and I feel like some Turkish wine with dinner."

And so it goes. Travel with another is fun, supportive, you get to share the moment and laugh and moan together but it involves compromises. Alone you're the captain of your own destiny, but solo travel is not for everyone. For some, venturing into the world alone is an intensely liberating experience, for others it's a nightmare.

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Solo travel, no way!

Apart from a shared dorm room in a hostel, you'll pay more for accommodation. A room by yourself is always going to cost more than the price of a room split between two. Food should work out about the same for the single traveller although you won't get to try so many dishes as when you eat with another. If you hire a car the cost comes 100 per cent from your pocket.

Travel buddies will sometimes drag you along to do things you aren't naturally inclined to and that can be an eye opener. It might be a culinary experience, an art show, a musical performance, a play or a part of the world they've longed to explore that's not on your radar. If you go along for the ride you might discover a new passion, or at the very least something you never want to do again.

Travelling solo is not necessarily a safety risk but you need to have your wits about you. If something does go wrong there's no companion to get you out of a jam, and nobody to do the talking for you if you can't.

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There are times when you need a gear minder. When you need to find a toilet in a train station, when you have to queue for a ticket, when one of you holds a cafe table while the other goes to fetch coffee.

"Table for one?" can sound like a judgement from a waiter's lips, and there's nothing so solitary as dining alone among couples or families.

You don't get to share the experience. There are plenty of times when you're out and about in the world and you just want to enthuse lavishly over something. You can't grab a stranger and rave when you've had a life-changing chocolate event.

The odds and sods you might share can't be. Medical kits, guidebooks, that novel you've been meaning to read, you'll need to carry all those on your own.

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Why solo travel is the best

You don't need to defer to another's whims and wants. There's no arguing over whether to spend the afternoon shopping or in an art gallery, whether the train or the bus is a better bet, whether you'll lounge in bed in the morning or hit the road early and who pays for what in the cafe. The where, when and what of sleeping, doing and eating are all up to you.

Alone, you're more engaged with the people and places around you. Travelling companions can be a great distraction. Are they happy, are they really having a good time or did they only go to that gypsy music club because that was your thing? Do they want to tell you about a movie they saw when you just want to watch the people passing by? Alone there's a greater chance you'll learn some of the local lingo, or at least give it a decent shot, and cultural interaction can open the door to some fabulous experiences.

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One can squeeze in more easily than two. The crowded bus, ferry, the last airline seat, there might just be room for one but that might not happen for two.

You're more likely to be embraced by the world. Couples and groups are their own self-contained unit. They're less approachable, more capable of managing the nitty gritty of travel and the world perceives this. Singles are another story. You're vulnerable and exposed and this can be a gateway to miraculous encounters. Alone, you're more likely to experience the kindness of strangers.

Empowerment. This is a major dividend from solo travel. It's an exhilarating experience to go about on your lonesome and cope with whatever challenges the world throws at you. You'll have to figure it all out for yourself and that includes finding your way, negotiating a foreign language and swimming in a foreign culture, relying on your own inner resources and developing skills you probably never knew you had.

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