One of the most common excuses that I hear from people that want to embark on some sort of trip is: I would love to travel, but I have no one to travel with.
Someone smart said long time ago – If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. I agree with that one. But also, I disagree that starting to travel with a companion is a perfect condition.
Its almost impossible to find a compatible travel companion, especially at the beginning, when you have no idea how will you behave on the road and what you actually want from your travels. At the beginning it all comes down to two choices: do we want to travel alone, or not travel at all?
Because of that, I started traveling by myself. Not because I wanted, but because nobody wanted to join me. At least not in my own way. And on those first trips I discovered that traveling alone has bunch of advantages.
With time I had some travel companions join me on the way, and in the last two years I have been traveling with only one person beside me. And on those trips I discovered that traveling with a companion has bunch of advantages.
And I think that’s it, you should try both ways – maybe to start alone, and with time allow others to join you. Like in relationships: you should know how to be with yourself and love yourself, so others accept and love you.
Since traveling solo and with someone are two different worlds, both have advantages and disadvantages. Advantage of one is very often the disadvantage of the other one, and vice versa.
So let’s see.
Its a lot harder to embark on a trip when you are alone. We are scared of things that can happen in an unknown environment: diseases, being broke, dangerous places/people, loneliness. We are convinced that it would be much easier if we had someone with us. And we are right. Its easier with someone by our side.
But, looking for an easier way is not always the right way. Ask any entrepreneur, artist, athlete, or traveler – the view is more beautiful from the top of the mountain when you make it on your own. Ask yourself – how many things you would never do if you didn’t have to do them by yourself, often going with your head against the wall?
Yes, its very possible that its more safe to travel with a companion (not in my experience though, only time I was mugged was when Maria joined me in Peru), but no matter are you traveling alone or with someone, you have to be careful and obey the laws of logic and common sense. Safety above all.
Traveling alone sounds very exciting and adventurous, and it mostly is. You don’t have to wait for anyone, make any arrangements, you don’t have to adjust or justify to anyone, you are creditable for all beautiful things that happen on the way. You cook for yourself, wash your clothes, spend time with yourself. Traveling alone is a great path to being independent. Great way to love you own company. To experience freedom, true freedom.
If you wake up in the morning and you want to head towards the east, you head towards the east. If you want to lay on the beach all day long, you can do that without being terrorised by someone with their plans and expectations. If you want to stay in one place for weeks, you are free to do that. Even if you make a mistake, you will learn from them.
Traveling with someone, on the other hand, sounds easier, simpler and safer – you always have someone to rely on. Someone to share the stories and experiences with. Someone who is there in good and in evel, who will understand you. Also, you won’t have to cook alone, wash your clothes, and spend time with yourself – you will have time to meet the person next to you. It won’t be hard to sacrifice part of your freedom because you made a choice to have someone by your side, 25 hours a day.
All decisions you make you will make by agreeing, understanding and compromising. You will learn that, even though it sounds amazing to make all your choices by yourself, that there are moments when others are smarter. That there are moments when others know you better than you know yourself. Lastly, you will learn to coexist, a valuable life lesson.
COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE
When you travel alone, you are forced to make contact with many people – you start conversations with random people on the road, you spend a lot of time with your hosts or with fellow travellers. Being alone will motivate others to approach you more often and its much easier to make contact with locals. Even though you are traveling alone, you are never alone.
The excitement of communicating/seducing/flirting with people of opposite (or same) sex is there – you are alone, traveling, tomorrow you will probably be far away…
But, constant influx of new people can be too much, especially after couple of months on the road. Meeting new people, answering the same questions like “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been traveling?”, “Where have you been?” – it can be overwhelming. When you are traveling with someone, moments of overload are much easier – you can withdraw in your own world, world with no need for information, sounds, facts. World where one look is enough to know what you’re thinking about, what are your needs, wishes, feelings.
When you travel alone you work on the quantity of intense relationships, and when with someone you orientate on the quality. To get to know one person, deeply.
Like the best way to learn a foreign language is to have no one beside you speaking your language, same thing goes for bunch of other situations on the road. You will give more attention to your surroundings, people, customs, their culture. You will feel like a local in true sense of that word, because nobody will be beside you reminding you who you are and how you should behave.
On the other hand, traveling with someone can be motivating – you have someone beside you telling you to pay attention to odd things, they can help when something needs translating or haggling. You have someone that you can rely on when you don’t want to learn, when you want to take a break from too much information.
As you can notice, there is no better/worst option when it comes to traveling alone or with someone. Both have their (dis)advantages, and depend on many things – especially about your current interests and wishes, but also on partner compatibility.
At the end – there are no guarantees. No one can tell you will it be beautiful or awful, no matter are you traveling alone or with someone. There is only one way to find out – try it out for yourself.
I mean, if you don’t like it, you can always make a change – leave the person you are traveling behind, or take a companion on the way.
Do you have some piece of advice?