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Solo versus Group Gap Year Travel

Written by Alice McLeod on 27 / 05 / 2022

Gap Year Advice

Here at The Leap one of the questions we get asked the most is: will there be other people to travel with after my programme? The good news is that around 85% of our Leapers go on to do onward travel after doing a team gap year programme with us. But what if you’re striking out on your own to do something totally solo? Are you destined to have a miserable time (spoiler alert: no!)? We’ve compiled a list of just some of the pros and cons of solo and group gap year travel to help you make up your mind when it comes to planning your own adventure.

Solo Gap Year Travel

PRO: The biggest advantage to solo travel is that you’re totally in charge of your own itinerary. The only person who decides what you do and where you go is you. Don’t like a place and want to move on? No problem. Love a place so much that you want to stay another week? Easy peasy. Total freedom to plan your perfect gap year.

CON: It can be nerve-wracking to set off travelling on your own if you’ve never done it before. It’s hard to know where to start sometimes, and whilst you’re out there it can be stressful to always have to take sole charge of all your plans.

PRO: You’ll meet so many new people as a solo traveller that you’ll have hundreds of new friends by the end of your trip. Being on your own will force you out of your comfort zone and you’ll be introducing yourself to people in hostels before you know it. Loads of people will be in the exact same boat as you and also hoping to meet new people and make friends.

CON: Some parts of the world can be more dangerous as a solo traveller, especially if you’re a woman. However, you can take steps to mitigate this and stay safe. Always remain cautious and trust your gut instincts.

PRO: It’s much easier to budget when you’re a solo traveller. Because you’re the only one booking and planning your travels you won’t get roped into paying for expensive hotels or pricey camel rides through the desert if you don’t want to. There’s nothing worse than going travelling with someone who’s on a totally different budget to you and is wanting to splash the cash as you desperately try to save it!

CON: Let’s face the facts, sometimes it’s just a little bit lonely being on your own in an unfamiliar country. It can feel awkward eating alone, and you have no one to gush about the day’s sightseeing with. Learning to enjoy your own company isn’t a bad thing, but prepare to have the odd day or two when you wish you had a friend with you.

PRO: It’s easier to practice your language skills. If you don’t have any else to rely on to help you stumble through ordering food off a menu then it’s time for you to bust out your pocket dictionary and step up to the plate. Will you impress the locals with your linguistic prowess? Probably not. Will you have a giggle? For sure.

Group Gap Year Travel

PRO: The biggest advantage of group travel, whether that’s through organised team travel like The Leap, or a group of you and your friends, is that you have group of like-minded people to share your adventure with you (and to take photos of you for the ‘gram).

CON: You’re missing the flexibility of solo travel when you’re in a group. Your own plans have to fit in with what the group as a whole wants to do and sometimes that can be frustrating.

PRO: You have people to help out if something goes wrong. It’s not nice to think about, but sometimes when we’re travelling not everything goes to plan and it’s reassuring to have someone else there if things go pear shaped.

CON: Travelling with friends is an absolute dream… until you fall out over who gets to sleep in the bottom bunk at the hostel. Being in close quarters, often tired, and sometimes stressed, means you might end up wishing you’d gone stag. Make sure you all want similar things out of your time away before you commit.

PRO: It’s much easier to split costs when there’s more than one of you. You can bunk together in hotel rooms, split the cost of food, and if it’s a big enough group, get group discounts on certain attractions.

CON: It’s harder to get off the beaten track and discover hidden gems. When you’re travelling around in a gaggle, it’s much easier just to stick to the ‘top 10 places to see in…’ lists and never discover anywhere that isn’t in a guidebook. Sometimes it’s only through chatting to locals that you hear their tips for places off the beaten track, and you may be more likely to do that if you’re not already in a group.

PRO: If you go through an organised team travel company like The Leap then all of the stressful planning is taken out of the equation. You know you’re going to see the highlights of a country, with a group of people your own age, and with shared interests. Plus a phase of organised travel will equip you with the skills you need for any onward travel you then plan to do. Win-win.

Combine Group and Solo Gap Year Travel

Here at Leap HQ we’re big fans of both solo and group gap year travel. Both bring a different experience to the table, but we’re certain you’d have a fantastic time doing either. What we are tending to find is that our Leapers will do an organised group programme for the first month of their travels, and then will go on to independently travel either on their own or with the friends they made on their team.

If a group trip sounds like the option for you then check out our team programmes here. If you want to fly solo then we can help with that too by chatting through your itinerary and giving you access to our tips and tricks through Leap VIP. If you have absolutely no idea what you want to do then give us a call to chat through your options and together we can get to the bottom of how to help you plan your perfect gap year.

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