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Solo vs Group Gap Year Travel

Written by Alice McLeod on 09 / 05 / 2023

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 75% 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 on your gap year? 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 gap year 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 (if that sounds like the case for you then check out our independent travel advice hub to find planning advice, suggested itineraries, and our insider tips and tricks).

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.

Explore Gap Year Programmes

Start your gap year on a organised group programme so you can find your feet and gain confidence before onward travelling with your newfound friends

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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 get in touch to chat through your options and together we can get to the bottom of how to help you plan your perfect gap year.

FAQs:

  • Is it safe to solo travel as a woman? Wherever you go in the world there will always be risks and dangers, but being a solo female traveller shouldn't stop you from planning your travels and seeing the world. If you wish, you could sign up to something like Travel Aid, who provide incident response for everything from a stolen bag, to a drink spiking. But don't get too caught up on worrying about safety, stay sensible, stay alert, always trust your gut and you'll be just fine.
  • How do I know what kind of group travel to do? The crux of the matter, is the ethos of the company you're travelling with. You might find that you're in a group of people of all ages, and you're surrounded by people in their forties. Or you might find that when you're out there you don't feel like you're getting any support, especially if things go wrong. For some people this is totally fine, but others want to be surrounded by like-minded, same-aged people, and comfortable knowing that if something were to go wrong (which it often does on adventure gap year travel!) someone would have your back. We don't want to brag, but we think we're pretty good at this. Click here to read more about what sets us apart from other gap year companies.
  • What's the best way to meet new people when travelling? Hostels, hostels, hostels! This is the place to meet new people on your travels. Be brave, introduce yourself to people, and you'll have more friends than you can shake a stick at in no time. Hostels are great for meeting fellow travellers, and you'll definitely benefit from hearing their advice about places they've been etc; you might also meet people to team up with and travel with for a while. Win-win!
  • What's a good way to get into solo travel if I haven't done much before? Starting with something like interrailing or island-hopping around Greece is a great way to gain some travel confidence. You're not too far from home, and culturally Europe is similar enough to the UK that you won't suffer a huge culture shock, but it will still give you a great insight into planning travel.

Explore Gap Year Programmes

Start your gap year on a organised group programme so you can find your feet and gain confidence before onward travelling with your newfound friends

Find out more

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

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