The Pros and Cons of Solo vs. Group Travel

Lace-up your hiking boots, take a deep breath of forest air
Lace-up your hiking boots, take a deep breath of forest air

By Robin Esrock

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard: “I prefer to travel alone” and “I’d never travel alone” my Dichotomy Jar would be overflowing. Although we often follow the same itinerary, travel has always been as personal as one’s toothbrush. Some people love sharing an experience with others. Others want nothing more than peace, space and solitude. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of solo versus group travel.

Endless views of the Atlantic Ocean |  <i>Caroline Mongrain</i>

The Pace
Not everyone hikes at your speed, pedals at your velocity, has your physical ability or your “go-go-go!” spirit. Some travellers prefer to take it easy, stop, smell the lupins, and constantly capture photographs. Different paces can create tension on a group tour, although a good guide knows exactly how to manage the situation, and a great tour operator has already factored this into their itineraries. For safe and enjoyable outdoor active adventure, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable at their own pace. The speedsters can rush ahead, and if there’s extra time, use it to their advantage to explore even more terrain or add a few extra kilometres to the day. The stragglers can take their time, knowing they’ll all end up at the same place. Travelling solo gives you plenty of flexibility, but not much more or less than a well-run excursion that caters to all abilities. Still, it’s worth consulting trip notes and adhering to operator advice about mild, medium, or extreme physical pursuits.

Hiking the Chilkoot Trail |  <i>Mark Daffey</i>

The Activities
Some people are not physically built for a rugged week-long wilderness hike. Others might be ill-prepared or over-confident. Regardless of whether you’re setting out on your own or joining a group, it’s important to check ratings (Great Canadian Trails have a grading system that ranges from Introductory to Challenging) to make sure you’re not getting in over your head. Outdoor adventures can be unpredictable; that’s what makes them fun. Joining a group, you’ll find a camaraderie settles in. Everyone inevitably encourages and supports each other, whether or not they knew each other before the start of a trip. There’s no doubt this creates a safer environment, with more eyes around. That said, the goal-orientated might prefer being responsible for their own journey and nobody else’s. Once again, everyone ultimately ends up at the same place, especially at dinner.

Scallops, shrimp, haddock, and lobster - oh my!

Meal Times
After a hard day’s paddle, trek or ride, it’s particularly rewarding to gather around the fire or table and share stories with your fellow travellers. Wine might flow as personal histories are uncovered, information is learned, stories are shared, and friendships are forged. It’s these meal times that bond groups and often become trip highlights. Having once completed a year-long solo adventure around the world, I recall some meals being particularly lonely, although there are usually locals or people about to engage with if one is willing to put in a little effort. That said, I’d often write or read during lunches or dinners, and I enjoyed the flexibility to ‘tap out’ of social conversation if I wasn’t particularly up for it. So much ultimately depends on the…

People
Any adventure is only as unique as the people you share it with…even if it’s only yourself. You can be on a beautiful island surrounded by loud, obnoxious idiots, and you can definitely have fun in a dive bar. One can be content and relaxed on your own or feel miserable and lonely. My maxim has always been: “It’s the people you meet who create the paradise you find.” If the company is annoying, I just excuse myself and find other people to engage with, or resolve to spend some time with myself. If I’m in a group of lovely people and fascinating characters, it enhances the experience in magnitudes. It’s important to note that travelling alone, or in a couple, does not mean you’re going to be isolated. Everywhere you go, you’ll meet both locals and fellow travellers. I’ve found that solo participants in a group often gravitate towards each other, with the flexibility to establish their own comfort levels for socializing.

Cycling the lovely Confederation Trail on PEI |  <i>Tourism PEI/Paul Baglole</i>

Ultimately, going alone or joining a group is a personal choice, based on your personality, goals, time, budget, and whatever it is you want most out of your journey. A solo traveller hiking the Rockies or cycling across PEI will experience the same views as those travelling as a group. Either way, everyone wins.

Robin Esrock is a renowned travel journalist and the bestselling author of the Great Canadian Bucket List.

Choose from Great Canadian Trails’ vast selection of immersive small group guided adventures or discover Canada at your own pace with innovative, supported self-guided trips.

Comment (0)

Your comment will be visible after the administrator's approval.







b i u quote


Save Comment
Join Newsletter
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ADS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Adventures South"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Adventure South</div>
Adventure South NZ is unrivalled in their geographic coverage, originality and overall quality of adventures holidays in New Zealand. Choose from walking, cycling, winter or multi-activity holidays, on either the North or South Island.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/AWH.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Walking Holidays"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Walking Holidays</div>
Australian Walking Holidays specialises in small group guided walking adventures. Since 1982 we have been guiding small groups of travellers on Australia's finest walks across our tropical, coastal or red centre landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GCT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Canadian Trails"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Canadian Trails</div>
Great Canadian Trails specialises in active holidays in Canada. With both guided and supported self-guided options available, our unique itineraries draw upon some of Canada's most inspiring parks, trails and landscapes from coast to coast.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/HUM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Humac Challenge"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Huma Charity Challenge</div>
Huma enables those with adventurous spirits to challenge themselves and make a difference for a cause close to their heart. Travel, fundraise and meet life-long friends on one of Huma's meaningful and unique challenges around the world.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WB.jpg?v2' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Walkers’ Britain"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Walkers' Britain</div>
Walkers' Britain (formerly Sherpa Expeditions) have specialised in walking and cycling trips in the United Kingdom and Europe since 1973. Explore iconic trails and destinations on a self guided or small group active holiday with Walkers' Britain.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TAS.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Tasmania Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Tasmanian Expeditions</div>
Tasmanian Expeditions is the most experienced operator of treks and adventure travel holidays in Tasmania. We own and operate the most comprehensive range of adventure holidays available across Tasmania's varied landscapes.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/UTX-new.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Utracks"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>UTracks</div>
UTracks are the active European holiday specialists. Whether you prefer cycling or walking, 2-star or 4-star, small groups or self guided, land, river or sea – UTracks can help you to explore Europe exactly the way you want.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WYA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions Schools"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions Schools</div>
World Expeditions Schools is our specialist division dedicated to organising tailor made overseas school group adventures. Specialists in Service Learning projects, choose from more destinations than any other school group provider.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/YOM.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Yomads"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Yomads</div>
Yomads offers adventures for the 20s and 30s on six continents. Designed as a way to bring young and likeminded travellers together, Yomads caters to those interested in lightly structured and active trips that allow freedom to roam and explore.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/ACT.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Australian Cycle Tours"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Australian Cycle Tours</div>
Australian Cycle Tours specialises in high quality self guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/WEX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="World Expeditions"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>World Expeditions</div>
The pioneers of original, worldwide adventure travel holidays since 1975
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/TJX.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Trail Journeys"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Trail Journeys</div>
Self-guided cycling experts on New Zealand's Otago Rail Trail and more
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/BMAC.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Blue Mountains Adventure Company"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Blue Mountains Adventure Company</div>
The original Blue Mountains canyoning, hiking, climbing and abseiling experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/GWNZ.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="Great Walks of New Zealand"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>Great Walks of New Zealand</div>
Explore New Zealand's most spectacular wilderness regions with the self-guided hiking experts
<img src='/portals/World%20Expeditions/Icons/brands/small/NAA.jpg' class='brandPopoverIcon' alt="North America Active"> <div class='brandPopoverBrandName'>North America Active</div>
USA Canada hiking & cycling tour specialists, choose from self-guided or guided trips