Traveling 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.
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 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.