If you’re planning on traveling to Peru for a few days, weeks or maybe months, you might be weighing up the pros and cons of going to Peru alone or with your friends. And that’s a pretty important decision, as solo travel in Peru or anywhere else in South America can be a very different experience to group travel – independent or otherwise.
Both options have their positives and negatives, and your decision will ultimately depend on your own personality and what you want out of your trip — and, of course, the availability of a friend or two who you can actually travel with without wanting to strangle them…
The Positives of Solo Travel in Peru
- Freedom: the lifeblood of travel. If you are an independent type, then the freedom to move when you want and where you want is going to be a hugely valuable commodity. If you go to Peru alone then you’ll be the master of your own fate, drifting where you want without needing to debate each destination with your companion.
- You’ll almost certainly meet more people in Peru if you go solo. Firstly, a solo traveler is generally more approachable than a group of close-knit friends. Secondly, you won’t have a constant companion to chat to, so starting up a conversation with a fellow backpacker or friendly local is kind of vital unless you don’t want to talk for a few weeks.
- You’ll probably learn Spanish faster if you are traveling in Peru alone. You won’t be able to split the talking duties with your friends (or rely on their perhaps superior Spanish), making it even more important to get a grasp of the language yourself.
- You’ll meet plenty of backpackers in hostels, so you can normally find a few new friends and traveling companions if you decide you want some company for a while. Most backpacker hostels are packed with people who are heading where you want to go, especially along the well-trodden Peruvian Gringo Trail.
- Solo travel is rewarding. The whole “stranger in a strange land” thing is kind of negated if you are cruising around with your best mates. Backpacking in Peru can throw up a few challenges along the way, and knowing that you got by all on your little lonesome is a good feeling once you get back home.
The Positives of Traveling to Peru with Friends
- Traveling to Peru with a friend, or friends, is a good idea if you want a reliable traveling companion. Meeting people on the road is always an option, but traveling with someone you already know has its own benefits. Common ground, a shared sense of humor and similar tastes can really brighten up those dull moments when you are sat on a bus or stuck in the middle of a one-llama town.
- Having a trusted traveling companion helps with various safety issues. You’ve got a second pair of eyes to watch your back, and your backpack.
- You’ll have someone to take your photo for you. Seriously, having a friend — even a really weird friend — is far less embarrassing than using a selfie stick.
- Going in a group can help cut the cost of traveling in Peru. You can split the cost of taxis, tips, hotel rooms and more.
- Traveling to Peru alone is great, but sharing an experience with a good friend also has its benefits. The two of you can chat for ages about the trip when you get home, saving your other friends from endless tales of your solo adventures in Peru.
- Camping is not too common in Peru, but if you are planning some serious camping and hiking excursions then having a friend around is a good idea. Your friend can help carry all the necessary gear, saving you from lugging around an excessive amount of equipment. You might also feel more secure camping and hiking in Peru with company.
I Don’t Want to Go to Peru Alone, But My Friends Can’t Come!
You might find yourself in a position in which you want to go to Peru, you don’t want to go alone, but your friends don’t have the free time, finances or motivation to go with you. Well, my advice is this: Don’t let that stop you.
It really is easy to meet other backpackers in Peru, especially in the most popular cities (for example, Lima, Cusco and Arequipa). And if you take the time to learn some conversational Spanish, you’ll have 30 million Peruvians to talk too. So you never really need to be a totally solo traveler in Peru.