What does one need to consider when trekking solo vs with a group?
This blog is a part of our Trekking 101 series, powered by ULTIMATE TREKKER – the Outdoor Leadership Programme for pro trekkers.
If you are travelling solo or trekking in the Indian Himalayas, there are a few things one should keep in mind; where is one going to and for how many days? The decision of traveling solo or Trekking with a group can be one that’s particularly tough, especially for a first time traveler.
People differ in choices, opinions, expressions and hence, the experience will be different in each case. In order to maximize the joy of trekking in India, here is a detailed discussion on the two formats of trekking which will help you make an informed decision for your first adventure.
SOLO TREKKING (PROS)
– You have complete freedom and independence and you are in control of absolutely everything. You can travel at your own pace and make your own itineraries. Now, with no one telling you what to do or how to do it, you’ll come to appreciate the feeling of liberation that goes with it.
– When you travel alone, you are responsible for only one set of travel plans: yours. There’s no fight over which landmark to visit, where to eat, who laid eyes on that guy in the dorm first or who the hell was responsible for getting others lost. It’s just you.
– You become the leader. Want to climb that mountain ? Go ahead and climb that mountain. You don’t have to worry about the expenses because you know how much you have and want to spend. Want to stay in a hotel or hostel all day and do nothing at all? Just do it. Simply, there’s no-one else dictating you how to spend your time. You decide what to do and what not to. You’re the captain of your ship. You make the rules.
– Aside from growing the confidence to think about yourself, it speeds up the process of decision making; after all, you do not have to consider someone else’s opinion. It’s an opportunity to develop as a person. There can be few better tools for self-development than being alone in a new part of the world, having an adventure of your own. Priorities change, personalities mature, minds open, self-confidence increases; ideals and opinions alter in ways unfathomed. You evolve!
– Traveling solo forces you to rely on yourself. This is a good thing. You have to take care of yourself and figure out languages, train schedules, maps, carry your own sleeping bag, decide where to stay and how to arrange for food and nutrition. But once you have figured this out on your own, you’ll have greater confidence, and discover strengths you thought you never had. With the freedom to explore your interests, you may also find interests you were unaware of.
SOLO TREKKING (CONS)
– Everyone (whether solo or in a group) can feel lonely when they travel alone.
– Going solo also means, you need to be self reliant in all spheres like how to pitch a tent, leaning tent etiquettes. Taking care of yourself becomes paramount. Safeguarding yourself from altitude sickness or other situations falls on your shoulders. Gaining vital knowledge of choosing the right backpack or layers of clothing becomes very important.
– Food, transport and accommodation are often expensive when not traveling in a group. Hence, If you’re on a budgeted trip, try to cultivate simple and cheap tastes in order to compensate for the added expenses.
– Some people just come to spend some time outdoors and they don’t really care about spending money. So in case you are backpacking, be careful. These things can be fixed when you are in the first phase of planning the trip. Discuss about basic requirements and how you and the others are going to handle this.
Embrace the simple and minimalist lifestyle that travel provides you. Treat it as a challenge: how cost effectively can you do this?
Safety on Indian treks should be an absolute priority for any traveler. It often becomes an area of concern while you are traveling alone. You can follow the usual safety precautions (as you would at home), research regional challenges ahead of time and speak to locals to get to know the parts of trek you should cover in the least possible time and you should be fine. To know more about how to get around while you are traveling solo, read blogs of travelers who travel solo.
GROUP TREKKING (PROS)
– Whether it is a group of people you’ve never met before or a bunch of friends you’ve known for years, the experience with them is unquestionably special in its own.
– Sometimes when you travel in a group, you have people who will convince you to do crazy things you would never do alone.
– Traveling in groups creates a sense of companionship & togetherness. It also helps you to grow together.
– There are practical advantages of being in a group. You can save money on accommodation, food, transport, activities and so on. You can divide luggage to share weight. Being in a group can be incredibly helpful for these simple yet crucial reasons.
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GROUP TREKKING (CONS)
– You have less freedom and independence. More the number of people, more are the number of disagreements.
– Travelling in a group is a definite exercise in negotiation and compromise. At a very basic level, you can’t do everything you want to do and this can be very hard to digest when you have particular ideas in mind.
– It is very normal that you might end up not liking your company.
– Group travel makes it far more difficult to get personal space and it can be frustrating being around so many people all the time.
Common Fears About Traveling by Yourself
People may think you’re crazy to consider traveling alone. You may even have some doubts. Here are some common fears about traveling alone, along with answers to reassure others, and yourself, that you’re doing the right thing.
You are more vulnerable to danger alone, but that just means you need to be more aware of your environment. Travelers (i.e., both men and women), have gone to places all over the world by themselves and it’s an exception if something bad has happened, it is not a norm. Don’t let the fear of something bad happening keep you from traveling alone.
You have to be alone only if, and when, you want to be alone. You can meet people on the road, at hostels, breakfasts, cafes, pubs, museums, buses, train stations—the list goes on. You just have to be open to meeting new people. You’ll always find company if you are looking for one.
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If you’re considering traveling on your own, it’s probably safe to say you’re not the type of person that needs to be passively entertained. Traveling on your own, you’ll be free to pursue your interests, which may be boring to others, but certainly not to you.
If you feel your apprehensions have been addressed and your expectations bolstered then, let us know what you’ve decided for your next adventure in the comments section below.
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Author: Kopal Goyal
An adventure photographer/filmmaker; her love for the lens and zeal for climbing convinced her to leverage her abilities of combining an artistic eye with the camera. Ganesha 8b+ and Project Wild Women are two of her award winning documentaries.