Solo travel is taking the wanderlusting world by storm. Despite the adventurous lure of the solo vagabond, my favorite travel memories are still the ones I've made alongside those I love.
Here's why I'd rather explore the world with friends:
1. I don't need to "go it alone" to make myself proud
Putting oneself in a new place is always challenging, yet the added wonder of putting oneself in a new place all by oneself - that is, traveling solo - adds an extra sparkly effect to the allure of adventure. But is traveling with someone else really that much less likely to challenge you? To change you, for the better?
Traveling with others comes with its own challenges to help me grow as a person and a vagabond.
2. Two (or more!) sets of eyes are better than one
My traveling companions always point out things I never would have noticed. I like to think of myself as a fairly observant person, but there's always so much I wouldn't see if friends didn't draw my attention to it. Seeing a new place with a friend doubles the opportunity to observe new things. We all see through a different perspective, and I want to learn not only from my own experiences, but from my loved one's experiences as well.
3. Having someone to watch my back lets me relax
I'm not a proponent of the idea that you can't be safe as a solo traveler - there are too many fantastic vagabonding lives all by themselves to leave any substance to that suggestion. However, traveling with a trusted buddy (or a few) takes a bit of the pressure off my back to always make sure I'm being safe.
I'll walk with friends through a city at night when I'd call a taxi if I was solo. I'll have another Guinness at the pub when I have a sober friend to watch my back. I don't need companions to be safe, but it does make it easier.
4. There are solo moments when you travel no matter who you're with
At least there should be. Otherwise, you're bound to kill each other if you're traveling long term. Traveling with others in no way diminishes my ability to take a break to recuperate alone. Sure, when traveling with limited private space, securing solitude takes extra coordination. But I've found that the extreme nature of travel makes even the most extroverted persons want to curl up and zone out every once in awhile. I can travel with others, and still chill by myself from time to time.
5. There's a chance you might actually be in a picture or two
If you're like me, you're happy snapping away at every random building with little attention to actual photographic skill. Despite hundreds of pictures by the end of the trip, there's still no proof that I was there at all (unless you count a few awkward selfies).
Having more than one snap-happy tourist makes sure everyone gets to be in the pictures. You may not think it matters much, but when you're telling your grandkids about your adventurous escapades, it will be nice to have some proof.
6. Companions will help you remember
I'm always amazed by how much of a trip I forget after a few months at home. It's one reason I keep travel journals, and another reason to go with friends. I love the fact that my brother or best friend can say "remember when..."
Even if I don't remember at the start, I'm so glad someone does. Travel memories are precious. Sometimes it takes more than one mind to preserve them in entirety.
7. Friends help you make new friends
Solo vagabonds love to talk about how much easier it is to meet cool new people when you're traveling alone. But I love just how easy it is to make new friends when I'm traveling with a companion(s). Traveling with friends lets you decide how and when and if you meet new people.
Others are sometimes more likely to approach solo travelers, but there's no reason you can't appear solo. If you're with people who are also looking to meet new acquaintances, sit apart from each other on the train or in the hostel common room.
Having friends also lets you deter unwanted attention. Traveling with my brother was fantastic, because everyone always assumed we were a couple until we told them otherwise. Other times, strangers even thought my best friend and I were a couple.
8. A piece of home comes with you
I don't get homesick. But I do get terribly "peoplesick." I miss the people I'm away from, sometimes desperately. It's often the one sore spot in an otherwise happy trip. Traveling with someone makes my adventure that much better because unlike traveling solo, I don't have to choose between two of my favorite things: loved ones and adventure.
9. I'd rather get to know my loved ones than people I may never meet again
Travel brings out both sides of people: the best and the worst. There's no better way to get a true taste of someone's personality than to see them out of their comfort zone. Stick them on a plane or in a city where they can't speak the language, and a person's true colors emerge.
Sometimes it's pretty. I'm often amazed at the compassion, patience, and appreciation for culture that emerges from the most surprising suspects. It's a humbling experience and makes me proud to call them my friend.
Sometimes... well, sometimes you're glad you got a taste of their true colors!
10. ...and I'd rather invest in my loved ones than people I may never meet again!
Travel is challenging, which means it affords great opportunities to show grace to the ones you're traveling with. It's easiest to bond while traveling because there are so many opportunities to show love when traveling - if you're on the lookout for them.
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