I was asked recently if I liked travelling with friends or preferred going it alone and meeting people along the way. My first answer is, and probably always will be, go it alone.
I’m sure most people would look at that response and think “But won’t you get lonely?” The short answer is “No”. The longer answer is…still “No”. I don’t feel the need to justify to people why I want and prefer to do things on my own.
I have been travelling with friends. I have been travelling with family. It’s fun. They have been some of my favourite experiences. However, unless you are travelling with someone who is identical to you in every single thing you want to do there will be compromises. A lot of compromising. And the “compromises” usually end up being majority rules. I have found in this instance that I have usually gone off on my own and met up with people at the end of the day. If you’re going to travel to a place together but then not spend any time together, you may as well have gone on your own.
I’m not a party person. I’ve visited places with friends who are intent on going out at night and getting drunk. That doesn’t interest me. If I wanted to do something like that I wouldn’t travel halfway around the world. That’s something that can be done in your own backyard.
I have had some fun times travelling in groups. Sometimes it is unavoidable. I’ve had the tour group experience and it has been hit and miss.
- Ireland on a bus with 40 other people, mostly Aussies looking to get drunk…not overly enthused by this.
- Egypt in a group with 12 other people – awesome. A small group where you got to know everyone. This tour was over seven years ago and I’m still in touch with some of the people I met here. I would definitely do this again (tour groups are the only way to go in Egypt).
- A six night, seven day camping trip in America with 12 other people – so-so. Five Irish girls who had never been camping before and complained nearly the whole trip does not make for a good experience.
I have had some fun times travelling with friends and family. My sister visited me for a month during my time in London. We took off in a car (with a friend of mine for the first week) for four weeks and toured around Cornwall, Devon, and the Cotswolds before heading across to France. We were interested in seeing the same things so it was easy to plan. And because my sister is the complete opposite to me…I was able to let her do all the talking and sit back and observe and listen. I’ve often been told I come across as rude and disinterested but to me it’s the opposite. Just because I’m not talking doesn’t mean I’m not interested in listening to what others have to say…this brings me to my next point.
Travelling on my own forces me out of my comfort zone. I don’t have the backup of friends and family to fall on when I want conversation. I’m a naturally reserved person and I’m quite happy to hide behind someone else who does all the talking. Being on my own I can’t do that. I need to be able to approach people and hold a conversation where needed.
Being on your own means no restrictions. You can go at your own pace. Don’t feel like doing something in the morning? Relax! Stay in bed a bit longer. Unless there are certain times you need to be places (museums, attractions etc.) take it easy.
I should take some of my own advice there. When I go somewhere I tend to try and cram as much in as possible. We live so far away from everything here that an opportunity to travel overseas for any length of time doesn’t come along often. I should learn to relax and take each day as it comes, be a bit more spontaneous (a discussion point for a future post).
Travelling alone is not without peril. Even though I have not had anything happen to me (touch wood) you do hear some horror stories in the news. I’m planning my big odyssey for next year and will be venturing to South America for the first time. Needless to say my Dad is a bit concerned about me travelling on my own through some of those countries. I’ve had people ask me if I’m going to travel the continent using a tour company. My answer is no. I will be using a tour company when I need to (i.e. Inca Trail trek) but I want to experience it for myself. I don’t want people telling me when I have to get up, have breakfast, be ready to go by…
People are still concerned and I’m sure there are valid reasons for their concerns. However, I’m not a party animal. I’m not going to deliberately be putting myself in a situation where I could end up with a spiked drink or worse. I won’t be in places where drugs are rampant (well…I hope not anyway). I’m a smart person. I’m using contacts I know to give me advice on where to stay, what to see, what areas to avoid. I’m not going to just rely on guidebooks. I’m going to rely on people in the know.
This is not foolproof. I do feel some trepidation in doing it on my own but I would regret going all that way and then rely on a tour company to tell me what I am doing each day. Tours are good for meeting people sure but…you also miss out on seeing a lot of the real sights. Hopefully by going it alone I will be able to immerse myself in local culture a bit more.
I’m interested to hear other thoughts on this – solo, with friends, group? Why? How could you convince me to do it with other people.
I’m looking forward to my trip next year. I won’t let anyone put me off my dreams. I want to be a traveller, not a tourist…
Travel quote found on Pinterest