My first experience traveling with friends was on a school excursion to an amusement park in São Paulo, when I was 11. The trip consisted of a bunch of kids in a bus eating Cheetos and singing songs. I had a similar experience 4 years later when I traveled with hundreds of kids to Disney World, which provided me with unforgettable memories of waking up in the middle of the hotel hallway and spending the night jumping in the bed while eating Doritos with cheddar.
I only experienced traveling with friends unsupervised when I was 17 and backpacked in Europe with my best friend. Later on, I traveled with 3 other friends to attend Ultra Music Festival in Miami. These two experiences (as well as the school excursions) inspired this post, highlighting the bright and the negative side of traveling with your friends (or besties).
1. You will never be bored
In a group of friends there is always something going on, so even a long trip is never boring. I remember playing endless games with my best friend during a night train trip from Rome to Munich, taking pictures of my friends sleeping during our flight to Miami, and recording stupid videos, drawing and dancing at Termini Station when we were 3 hours too early and still managed to almost miss the train.
2. Its easier to be bold
When you are alone its harder to create the courage to talk to strangers, to say yes to adventures and to take a little risk sometimes. So, it is way easier to make friends and do stupid (but rewarding) things when you already have someone by your side, after all, if you make a fool of yourself this will only give you guys another reason to laugh together.
3. You will have someone to take care of you
Trips are not only made of happy and cool moments, so it is always nice to have someone to take care of you if you get sick, too drunk, or just homesick.
When I ran over by a car in Nice, during our backpacking, my best friend was not only in the ambulance with me, but also spent the entire night by my side in the hospital, which made the experience way more pleasant (for real, it was pleasant, we ended up having more fun than we would probably have in a nightclub).
4. You will have a photographer at your disposal
I don’t have anything against selfie sticks, tripods and asking complete strangers for help… but who knows better than your friends how to take pictures of you in the exact way you like? And there is also the plus side of not being too scared to ask them to retake the bloody picture a thousand times. That’s what friends are for anyway.
5. You will save money on booking hotel rooms
Of course, sharing a hostel room with 12 other people is most times a cheaper option than sharing a bedroom with only one more person. However, if you don’t really like hostel dorms, hotel rooms are way cheaper when you can split the cost with your friends.
In some cases, it is even possible that the cost of a double hotel room shared by two ends up being cheaper than the cost of a single bed in a hostel dorm. During my backpacking in Europe, we stayed in budget hotels (like ibis and holiday inn) and spent almost the same as if we got each one a single bed in a hostel dorm.
1. You will not always agree
Traveling involves some moments of stress and tension, add to that the inevitable difference of opinions and those days when one of you will want to go to a museum while the other will want to spend the day relaxing at the beach… Truth is, traveling with friends takes a lot of compromising and patience.
Too much time together, especially in a small hotel bedroom, might end up creating some tension between you. The plus side of traveling solo is that you don’t have to compromise and have the full itinerary to yourself.
2. It is easier to forget to make new friends
When you travel solo, making new friends is almost a necessity. But when you travel with your friends you might be too content with your situation and forget to connect with new people.
And that’s not all, when you have someone with you that speaks your language you will practice other languages way less.
3. You will never be alone
For some people, this might seem like a positive aspect. However, healthy periods of loneliness can be (and usually are) very important, specially on trips with a more spiritual purpose. Besides, for people that are used to have their own space and time to be alone, having a person by your side all the time can be something really stressful.
4. They might ruin your vibe
Some people react differently to unpredictable changes and problems, so it is possible that your friend’s negativism or other grumpy behaviors end up affecting your trip’s vibe.
At the same time, sometimes we are feeling somehow under the weather, and it is easy to transfer all that anger to someone else, which can also affect your friendship.
5. There are things only a solo trip can provide
Traveling with your friends can provide lots of funny stories and strengthen bonds, but traveling alone can provide you with many things that a group trip cannot: self-knowledge, growth, self-confidence, courage… the list is endless.
Traveling is always a great idea. When you have friends by your side, that guarantees lots of fun, laughs, and memories for a lifetime, but there is also a bad side.
In conclusion, the decision will depend on the purpose of your trip and of the moment you are living when you go. A solo trip can be more suitable if what you are looking for is peace, self-knowledge, new friendships and the ability to face challenges by yourself. And traveling with friends can make the trip easier, funnier and lighter, and is perfect for small vacations and holidays.
The most important point is that you don’t give up on traveling just because you can’t find someone to go along with you. But if you can, remember to be patient and compromise a little and that will surely make things easier and prevent useless fights. One itinerary can please more than one personality, you just have to make an effort.