travel with a groupTraveling with friends can be a real test of friendship

To go traveling on your own or with a friend or friends is one of the most common questions asked before embarking on a long world trip. It’s a very difficult question to give a definitive answer to, as it is all about personal preference and what type of trip you’d like to experience.

I believe traveling on your own makes the trip a completely different experience to traveling with a friend. I’m not saying that one is in any way better than the other, only that they are very different.

Traveling On Your Own

For myself, traveling on your own is a great liberating experience where you have the freedom to do just what you want, when you want. You have to rely on yourself and no one else in every situation, which makes it a great character building exercise. Traveling alone you’ll really learn a lot about yourself, likes and dislikes you’d never ever noticed before. Traveling alone is a great time to be selfish, you can go see the art gallery you really wanted to see instead of going to see your friends preference, the museum.

The great thing about traveling on your own is that most of the time you’ll have the choice whether to travel alone or with people you’ve met on the road. You’ll met people in most places even when your not in the mood for getting to know new people, somehow you just come to life and next thing you know you’re in a bar having the time of your life with a group of strangers. There are places on the road where you’ll stay in budget hotels and guest house which aren’t very social and people are harder to meet, this usually depends on which country you are in. For example in Australia you should have no problem.

A great advantage of traveling on your own is if you met someone or a group of people you can travel with them until you feel like you need time on your own again. Also see my article – How To Ditch Your Travel Mate, for tips on how to shake a travel mate from hell.

“Traveling alone is a great time to be selfish, you can go see the art gallery you really wanted to see instead of going to see your friends preference, the museum.”

I found that after traveling alone for five months I was so used to dining or going out for a cold beer by myself that I wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. Usually on these random occasions I would meet a whole group of people and have a great evening. On one such occasion I went to a bar to read a book but ended up playing drinking games all evening with a group of Irish travelers.

Traveling on your own will certainly give you time to think as at times you won’t have your best friend chatting away in your ear. For me anyhow, traveling alone is the way to go for a long trip as it just feels much more liberating and more of an adventure.

Traveling With a Friend(s)

Traveling with a friend allows you to have someone who you can experience things with. This may sound minor but once your trip is over, your friends that didn’t go with you will be bored of your stories within five minutes. Having traveled with a friend who experienced the same things as you did means you’ll always have someone to talk to about them. Having travelled alone when you tell people your travel stories it’s often very difficult for people who haven’t been with you or to the place in question to really relate to it. Ever find yourself skim reading a long (never ending) group “travel” email that a friend has sent you? This is the same reaction many friends at home will have when you begin to tell your hundredth travel story.

Traveling with someone else means that you can help each other out when needed. Maybe one of you is better at map reading or planning, if so you can share the responsibilities. If you get ill on the road you will have someone on hand to help you out until you can get back on your feet again. It always feels better to see a familiar face when you’re ill and in the middle of a strange country.

Traveling to new places and doing new things is often much less daunting with someone else. Although it is inevitable that at some point during these testing times you’ll have an argument, sometimes big arguments. This is usually due to spending twenty four hours a day with some one, whether they are your best friend or your girlfriend/boyfriend. These arguments will happen and can often test your relationship to breaking point. One favoured technique for traveling with a friend or friends is to travel with them for a period of time and then split up for a while before meeting up again and so on. This way you both get a break from each other instead of being in each others faces for such a long period of time. Some people split up for weeks, months, others for days, half days or even just hours.

There are some travelers out there traveling in groups or couples who aren’t as open as other travelers. Somehow they seem to think that they don’t need to meet new people as the people they are traveling with are enough for their trip. They’re often difficult to chat to or never seem to go out of their way to say a friendly “hello”. They are missing out big time on a major aspect of traveling around the world.

My personal preference is to travel alone, I enjoy traveling with other people but only for short periods of time. I dislike planning in detail but love to just go with the flow and see where the wind takes me. Whatever your own choice, one thing is for certain, you’ll have an amazing experience.

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Paul Dow

Hello! I'm Paul, an award winning travel blogger who focuses on solo adventure travel and has a passion for using new technology. I write, take photos and produce videos about travel, food, craft beer, coffee and adventure.

  • Chris

    ''I dislike planning in detail but love to just go with the flow and see where the wind takes me''

    You could have summed it up with that sentence! I agree.

    But the above doesn't apply as easy if you go as a group. I celebrated new year with 20 other individual travellers in a place called Don Det in Laos and because we were all travelling by ourselves and no people to hang onto it was just so much more free and fun!!!

  • travmonkey

    Hi Chris,

    I agree, I'm a big fan of solo travel. There are a lot of people on message board that are going traveling and they alway seem to want someone to go with… I really do think they are missing out.


  • happy andira

    Wow… point taken, will take up to considerations when traveling next time around.
    Thanks a bunch 🙂

  • jane

    Great post-
    You've explained travel experience alone/with spot on for me! Matter of fact in a few months I'll be flying out to Hawaii alone then meeting up with my best friend (since high school!!) We both are taking our yearly 'girlfriends/mom' trip without kid!! A time for us to be a bit selfish…we've been compatible travelmates for yrs, thou we live thousands of miles away, make it a pt to meet up somewhere on the globe, still laugh and cry at some hilarious journeys (like renting a car out of Victoria Station, driving opposite, deal with those circles in London!!…lucky we made it out of the city in one piece!!…)

  • Travelling alone is definitely the way to go. Maybe not for every single trip but everyone has to try it at least once. I'm nearing the end of 4 months in Australia and New Zealand and had no problems whatsoever meeting people and having a great time.

    Being in hostels and on buses are a great way to meet people. I found it easier to meet people on tour buses where you are with similar people for a few days. Smaller hostels are more inviting when talking to other people as well. Multi day trips are also a good way to get to know some other people.

    Being alone gives you the freedom to make the trip amazing. You've invested all this time and money making your trip happen. Be selfish and make it amazing.

  • Hi guys,

    Thanks for the comments!

    I know a lot of people always have a puzzled look on their face when I tell them that I went on my own. Some people think it's a little strange but I do think they are missing out a little.

    There are definately pros and cons to both and as you said it's good to do both if you can.

    I actually think it is more difficult to meet people in Australia and New Zealand in comparison to countrie that speak a different language or where there is a huge culture shock. I think this is usually because backpackers tend to stick together a lot more in very unfamiliar places.


    Paul @

  • Ada

    I would love to be traveling alone next time. The last time I traveled with a friend, we quarreled on which room to pick at a beach resort, I told her I have no more money and just choose the cheapest room, when we dropped our bags on the cheapest room, I can really sense that she doesn't like the room and wants to transfer to a more cozy room. I don't want her to hate me so we end up transferring to the cozy which is twice the price 😐

  • Nicky

    Really glad I read this! I’m going travelling alone in 7 weeks and getting quite nervous! I’m quite a shy person but hoping pushing myself will give me the confidence I need to come out of my shell with new people!

  • Hi Nicky,

    You’ll be fine! Sometimes you’ll be on your own but you’ll meet lots of people. I’d say on occasion you have to put yourself in a situation to meet people, say like going to a hotel/hostel bar on your own (where other travelers will be)… and making conversation. Some people do this quite naturally but for shy people it can be more of a challenge. Travelling certainly helps you over come this!

    You’ll have a great time, keep us updated on how you get on!


  • Cecilia

    Hi Chris,

    I am a 59 yr old female – my husband and I planned to wait for retirement to travel – unfortunately he passed away – so here I am, alone and wanting to travel. Your advice is excellent – do not wait until tomorrow – it may never come. Any advice you can give me would be appreciated regarding how and where I should start. I feel a bit apprehensive regarding the safety. I am fit and in good health – so those are not issues.

  • Hi Cecilia,

    It’s easy to fear the unknown I find… It is sometimes a real battle. But once we actually do it we find that it’s not scary at all and actually easy and enjoyable.

    Obviously common sense helps when travelling too! Check guide books and info on the web about places before you visit just so you know local customs etc. But on the whole traveling is great fun.

    As they say, life is too short… And the regret of not having done the travel is worth taking that little leap! 🙂