(Part II of a two-part series on the arguments from travelling alone versus with your crew– do check out both parts and let me know what you think! Part I is here)
While I had a fantastic time revelling in my independence and freedom on the post-graduation travel extravaganza that saw me bounce through roughly 20 countries in just over four months, there were a fair few times when I found myself wishing to be with one of my crew from home rather than the mad, wonderful people fate was partnering me with on my journey.
To anyone who asks, I’ll often insist that travelling alone is best. I’m a keen advocate of solo travel. If I think about it, this is probably because I’m naturally quite an independent person anyway and I have a very efficient way of travelling which allows me to make the most of my (relatively) cash rich/time poor situation but doesn’t leave much room for compromises.
However, I think I often overlook the benefits of travelling with others and the fun I’ve had when doing so. In fact, I probably trick myself to a fair degree because as you’ll have seen in Post I , I spend a lot of time travelling with others anyway – but this is a little different. You can insist to me all you like that you and the guy you met five minutes ago at the bar are destined soulmates or the girl you met this morning in the hostel is your true born sister-from-another-mister but in this post, I want to talk about the benefits of travelling with your friends from home rather than the ones you’ve met because this is just as valuable an experience.
So you may think you know your friend because you went to school together or grew up together but travelling will make you realise how much more there is to know about them. You’ll learn things which will drive you crazy (like their obsession with Yelp reviews or determination to party until the sun rises every day) but you’ll also truly get to know them and deepen your relationship in ways you never expected.
Amanda and I have travelled in Yangshuo, Guilin, Changsha, Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei – and our friendship has stood through hurricanes, terrible hair dye jobs, food poisoning and my obsession with Starbucks cups. #GoingStrong
Passers-by will take your picture for you once, twice if you’re lucky. Your friend is the one who will still be by you on the tenth attempt to really help you get that perfect shot. I am that friend.
Mark, you’re welcome.
Most of my favourite photos of myself have been taken during my travels and I have my travel companions to thank for that.
Oh wow – the conversation is just so much better. While I’ve had some pretty amazing, pivotal conversations with people I’ve just met (guy I spent the entire night bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap lying next to – I’m talking about you), nothing quite matches a solid chin-wag with your best bud. When Liz and I went to Paris, the conversation flowed as freely as the wine. We ticked off the tourist spots and definitely exceeded our joint annual selfie quota but we could’ve stayed in the hotel each day and still had an amazing time.
For me, the British National Anthem does not conjure up images of Queen or country, instead whenever I hear it, I am transported back to a bar in Hongdae (the university clubbing district in Seoul) where my best friend Mark and I got rather drunk and ended up sat on stools at a rickety table surrounded by empty bottles, singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs much to the confusion of the Koreans around us. To this day I’m not entirely sure how or why the situation came to be but it’s one of my best memories of the night. Rarely does a catch up with Mark conclude without at least one reference to our week in Korea – and I love it. The funniest bit is that whenever I’ve attempted to explain the sheer hilarity of watching the confused Koreans around us, no one gets it. A year on, all I have to do is make a face at Mark and he knows exactly what I’m on about and we start laughing all over again.
These are the stories that we’ll still be reminiscing about in 60 years time.
While it’s definitely not a reason to travel with someone, having a travel partner makes it much easier on the wallet. Most hostels offer either double rooms or dorms so finding a single room is often tougher and more expensive than expected. It’s not just in accommodation where you’ll save money; taxis become cheaper, haggling is easier and there’s always discounts on tours if you’re more than one.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves and all that.
Many avid solo travellers may debate me on this but I do believe travel is more fun when you’re with others. Whether it’s hiking up a mountain or getting locked in a Vietnamese club past curfew with a minion balloon, it’s ultimately more fun when you’ve got someone to egg you on beforehand and share the giggles with after. You have to love a healthy dose of well meant peer pressure.
Alternatively, if you get trapped in your hostel by a hurricane, you can guarantee you won’t get bored – as happened last summer with my best friend Amanda during our trip to Taiwan!
#IT’S MORE SAFE
This is debatable – I tend to let my hair down more when I’m out with friends and as such would say it’s more likely for something to happen then than when I’m travelling alone as I’m on alert 100% of the time but broadly speaking, there is safety in numbers. While I always advise travelling with caution, when there’s another person around it’s one more set of eyes to help you watch your bags/food/drinks etc and that’s never a bad thing.
What are your thoughts? Are you a solo traveller or a team traveller at heart?