So, you have a travel trip in mind but are unsure whether to do it solo or find company. There are highs and lows to both but ultimately it depends on what you want to get out of the trip. Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly…
Travelling alone in a foreign land can be a self-empowering and life-changing experience. Why? You have only yourself to rely on. Your prime responsibility is you and what you want to do – that means open itinerary and no need to compromise or to tag along. You are leading yourself on an incredible quest of personal freedom and happiness. You may be alone but not lonely. There are plenty of male and female travelers who travel solo and they enjoy the social life and ‘me’ time. Travelling solo is also an achievement. The ability to look after yourself and acknowledge your needs. To also meet people and be open-minded about ‘their world’. Travelling solo develops your self-belief and self-awareness. Generally, you meet more people travelling solo and can make lasting connections. In terms of safety, follow safety procedures as you would at home and take extra care in being vigilant and trust your gut instinct!
I had a couple of weeks solo travel towards the end of my trip. It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before. The thought is scary at first but it’s a great feeling of personal freedom. I found Colombia to be a warm and welcoming country towards tourists. People are generally willing to help and secretly like to practice their English on you or vice versa – to have a Spanish conversation with them. My advice is to embrace everything, appreciate and stay humble. Say yes to the things you do want in your life and say to the things you don’t. Take the opportunity whilst you are in the moment and enjoy it to the fullest.
Travelling with a partner
I very much rate Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forum. That’s how I found my travel buddy Jo, to go travelling with through Central America. Never would I have thought I would find a travel partner through an online forum, but they say never say never, and in this case I hit gold. I was lucky and I don’t think it’s common to find someone who is like-minded and everything fits into place at the right time, with a similar budget and with a mutual goal. Although Jo was a more experienced traveler than me, we both loved travel and surprisingly had similar interests (we both could yam a Lobster lol). We messaged each other then spoke on the phone a few times before meeting in London for the first and only time. We had pizza in a London Bridge restaurant and at the end of our meal, we toasted over travelling together. I was happy and excited about planning the trip. I booked my one-way ticket a month after Jo did. We created a fantastic detailed itinerary on Google Docs (great to edit whilst on the road). We also helped each other on our baby-talk Spanish. It was fun and I was thrilled to be using my media skills and filming my journey as well as writing a daily diary along the trip. My advice for searching for a travel partner online is: to have a rough idea of the detail bits (what countries/places to visit, when to leave, how long for, budget and travel style). It helps to know these details so you don’t compromise your dream to fit in with someone else’s plans. Also trust your gut instinct, be safe online and have fun networking.
Travelling with a partner can be really fun. You’ve got somewhere there in a foreign land to share the good times with. You’ve got an extra pair of eyes and ears for safety. Someone to take great photos, someone to openly speak to or even help you out in situations. Take advantage of travelling as a pair – it could save you money. Sometimes private rooms are cheaper than two single dorm beds. Buy in bulk (breakfast, lunch and dinner to cook) and slit the price. Take it in turns to watch over belongings on long bus journeys and generally be a sis or bro whilst traveling. It’s really easy to meet people on the road so no doubt you’ll be making new friends and maybe even bumping into familiar faces later on in your journey. That happened to Jo and I numerous times. We ended up travelling for a month with two Irish ladies and a German guy from a bus journey! It’s healthy to sometimes do your own thing solo from time to time. That way you both have breathing space and can catch up on what you both got up to! #Soulsista #Soulbro!
If you already know someone from home that you can travel with then that is a good starting point for already having a common ground and an established relationship of understanding. Prepare for the fun and the rough times. The long bus journeys, travel sickness, disagreements but also the times where you are in absolute awe and you think This is why I travel. It’s an incredible experience having someone you can trust and rely on by your side to make your trip one to truly remember. Bare in mind, that your best friend may not be the best person to travel with. Choose your buddy wisely as it could make or break your friendship!
Travelling in a group
I had a great experience travelling around South-West America in a group, organised by G Adventures. I felt like an organised tour was the best way to explore the bright light cities and popular national parks. I had a limited time off work and I wanted to see the best parts with like-minded people. I wanted to 100% focus on having a fantastic time without having to think about how far the next gas station is, how to get the best deal, or how to navigate around a massive city or national park. The group had a set but flexible itinerary. Upon my request, we visited Mrs Doubtfire’s film-set house in San Francisco. Me and a friend that I met on the tour went jet skiing in San Diego. Our group plus another G Adventures group met up in Las Vegas and had a ride in a Party Limo! Fun times! The important stuff like admission tickets, transport and accommodation was guaranteed for the group. Our CEO (guide) knew about the best restaurants, super cool activities, the highlights of each place, the best route to take and last but not least, how to take the best pictures! The CEO usually has good knowledge with interesting facts and knows how to ask for special requests for the group – yeah, extra treats!
I made long-life friends from the tour and even today, we still discuss the possibility of a reuniting somewhere in this fascinating world. Travelling in a group is great for companionship and wonderful to share memories with. Travelling in a group is also cheaper – think of shared taxis, group rates, cooking meals, accommodation savings and more. You’re never alone unless you want some breathing space. As well as travelling as part of an organsied tour, you can round up your mates and travel together. Sometimes your best buds aren’t the best people to travel with so be sure to choose people who have similar travel goals/interests and who understands and will support each other. Especially when times get rough. With the group travel style, you don’t have ultimate freedom in your travels. It’s best to respect and understand your travel friends, communicate well and compromise from time to time.
Which do I prefer? All three. I like to mix it up.