Reconnecting with the natural world through a nature excursion isn’t just a pleasant way to escape from your typical routine. Research shows it can also offer a range of very practical benefits, such as reducing stress, improving focus, and reducing blood pressure.
However, if you’re planning a nature excursion, you may wonder whether it’s better to head out into the woods with a group, or to go solo.
There’s no universal answer to your question. Both solo and group nature trips offer their own unique benefits. This guide will help you determine which option is right for your goals.
Benefits of Group Nature Excursions
It’s important to understand that heading out into nature by yourself can be dangerous if you’re not an experienced hiker. Without others, you may get lost, or potentially injure yourself without anyone nearby to assist you.
This highlights one of the primary benefits of spending time in nature with a group of people. Venturing into the wilderness with company is always safer, especially if you are planning an overnight trip.
That said, even if you do have the proper experience to navigate the wilderness by yourself safely, there are still other reasons to consider a group nature excursion. Spending time in nature with others gives you an opportunity to get to know family, friends, or even strangers in a way that you typically can’t during other social activities. For example, if you’re sitting on the couch watching TV with your partner, any socializing you do will likely be passive; you certainly aren’t in a position to have a deep or engaging conversation.
On the other hand, when you’re out in nature together, all the distractions in daily life that often prevent us from truly connecting with each other are removed. This facilitates a deeper connection that’s difficult to come by otherwise. Even after what might otherwise be a relatively short hike, you may emerge from the experience feeling closer.
What’s more, walking in the woods or other natural area is a feast for the senses. What you notice might not be exactly what someone else notices. On a group nature hike or other excursion, you’ll get the chance to appreciate more elements of the overall experience, because you’ll be with people who might notice sights and sounds you’d otherwise miss. For example, maybe you have a great eye for spotting beautiful foliage, while someone else in your group is good at identifying birds just from their songs.
Everyone can appreciate nature’s beauty—there’s no special skill or knowledge required. Group nature excursions can be a joyful experience that allow you to connect with family and friends, or even make new ones, by sharing your delight in nature’s beauty.
The Benefits of Solo Nature Excursions
Spending time alone in nature can be a peaceful experience. That’s one of the key reasons solo nature excursions are often beneficial. Everyone needs time for self-reflection; it provides a chance to evaluate your life, your choices, and your identity, determining if you need to make any adjustments. Many of us spend much of our time denying our emotions, rather than dealing with them. Self-reflection is an opportunity to check in with yourself emotionally and pay attention to what you’re really feeling.
However, finding opportunities for self-reflection and introspection can be difficult. A certain degree of silence (that lasts for a relatively extended period of time) is necessary to facilitate the proper mindset. Even if you’re out in nature, you may not be able to find that type of silence if you’re traveling with a group. You need to be alone for this experience, which is why a solo nature walk or hike can be excellent for self-reflection.
Keep in mind that the benefits of spending time by yourself in nature aren’t merely theoretical. Research also confirms that solo nature excursions can support your well-being in a variety of ways.
For example, researchers have found that being in nature by yourself has a profound impact on stress levels. Studies have also indicated that solo nature trips can improve your attention and focus.
It’s easy to see why. During everyday life, numerous stimuli likely distract you. Emails, text messages, and conversations can eat away at your attention span. When you’re out in nature, however, you’re no longer bombarded in that way. This gives your brain a chance to reset itself. While you can enjoy this benefit to a degree during a group nature excursion, the effect is even greater when you’re alone, because you can focus completely on your thoughts or just being present in the moment, without interruptions.
Again, you still need to consider your own safety if you’re planning a nature excursion. A difficult hike might not be ideal for a solo trip if you lack experience. That said, as these points indicate, whether you venture into nature alone or with others, you’ll experience major benefits.