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Last Updated on 23/12/2020
I’ve always said that solo travel is one of the greatest and most challenging things you can do. Once you take the plunge and go on your first trip it irreversibly changes you. You gain more confidence and surety in yourself, you become an expert navigator and a dab hand at organising a stellar itinerary. However, there is one downside. Solo travel can ruin group travel forever. Travelling with friends will never be the same again.
The thing is solo travel gives you the freedom to do whatever you want and when you want. So, when the time comes for you to travel with a buddy the experience is somewhat tarnished because solo travellers aren’t used to compromising – or, at least I’m not!
If you’re used to being a solo traveller and you’ve agreed to go travelling with friends, fear not I’ve been in your shoes. Here are a few tips I’ve learnt to help you muddle through it and alleviate some of the problems that can arise with travel partners.
Plan your itinerary together
Solo travel teaches you to plan like crazy because you have no one else to lean on during your trip (more on that here). As a result, it feels strange allowing someone else to take the reins because it goes against everything you’re used to.
If you end up doing all the planning it can lead to resentment on both sides because you’ll feel like you’re doing all the work and they’ll reproach you for turning them into a tag-along.
To prevent this, make sure you designate some time to sit down with your travel buddy so you can include them in the planning – that way they will have no excuse not to get involved. Research your destination with them so you can both get excited.
Your itinerary will feel more balanced between you and it will help to ease the stress of one person doing it all. Plus, they can’t complain about anything on the itinerary!
Share activity must-dos
There’s nothing worse for a solo traveller than feeling like they’re missing out on activities because someone else doesn’t want to do them. Personally, I like exploring every inch of the destination I’m in. I will literally walk until I drop.
The last thing I want to do is lie around in my accommodation all day. You don’t spend money on expensive flights to do what you already do at home. That being said, you do need some downtime on your trip. You’ll just burn out if you try to do everything and a hectic itinerary will only lead to frayed tempers and a whole lot of stress.
To keep a good balance between activities and relaxation, share your absolute must-do activities with your travel buddy and let them return the favour even if you’re not so keen on what they offer. Ensuring that you both have activities you won’t miss will give you a more fulfilling trip.
You may not be able to do everything and there will be a fair amount of compromise but at least you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on something you’re desperate to do!
Much like sharing your itinerary, it’s important to split travel responsibilities when you’re travelling with someone. If you’re going alone you have the no choice but to book and plan everything so now that you’ve got a partner you should make the most of it. Here’s your opportunity to divvy up some of the tasks or you may run the risk of becoming the designated tour guide.
Take a step back and let someone else be in charge of booking accommodation or transport (I have a guide on handy travel apps to help with that here). You can afford to relax and not take the reins because this time you do have someone else to fall back on. Enjoy it!
Don’t put pressure on yourself
After enjoying the perks of solo travel, travelling with friends or a partner can be more challenging because you can’t just breeze about on a whim. You’re also spending 24/7 with someone which is bound to test even the mildest mannered patience from time to time. It’s completely normal.
What can tip you over the edge is comparing your solo travels to a trip with friends. It can easily happen but it will ruin your trip and your companion won’t feel too great about it either.
The key is to not put pressure on yourself. Every travelling experience has its own positives and negatives about it. If you try to make them perfect then you’ll never be happy. If you’re travelling with someone then yes, you might have to compromise a lot more but you’ll always have someone there with you.
The best way to get the most out of your trip is to find a happy medium between you and accept that there will always be differences. Also, help yourself out by only agreeing to go with someone you can get along with for more than a few hours!
Of course, you’re not obliged to go on a trip with them at all if you don’t feel comfortable about it. You don’t have to be a solo traveller to know when a travel buddy just won’t work out.
Final Thoughts on travelling with friends
In some ways, having a travel partner can make travelling that little bit easier. You don’t have to worry about being alone and vulnerable in an unfamiliar place and you will always have someone to eat with (if you’re worried about dining alone, that is).
On the other hand, you have someone else’s wants and needs to consider and that isn’t easy even if you’re not a solo traveller. There will always be times when you get a bit short with each other but how do you keep it from tipping over the edge? Lay some ground rules, share responsibilities, have some must-dos and plan your itinerary together.
Above all, don’t try to make your trip perfect and instead acknowledge that you’re sharing this amazing experience together. You might even have a much stronger bond by the time you get back.