Have you decided to take a trip? Are you going overseas? Will you travel alone or take someone with you? There are advantages and disadvantages to travelling with friends but ultimately, whether you go with others will depend on personalities, preferences, previous experiences and even where you're going. Overseas travel is an investment; think very carefully before deciding whether to go solo or buddying up with others.
The bad news about travelling with friends
Sometimes you just have to play nice, you know? It can be very difficult to keep everyone happy at the same time so there's a certain amount of compromise involved when travelling with friends.
- Early risers vs night owls – When you need to get your beauty sleep but others want to party all night long, it can be difficult to keep up at the same speed. Travel is tiring as it is, especially with jet lag throwing out your body's circadian rhythm so the last thing you want to do is have your sleep messed with. Try to pick travel companions whose sleep cycles match yours, or pack some seriously good noise cancelling headphones and an eye mask!
- Party poopers and fiesta fans – Most people enjoy taking part in the local festivities but the fact is, there are those who would rather read a good book on the beach and take a nap in the afternoon in preparation for a ghost tour at night. The best way to figure out if your travel companion is going to enjoy the same things as you do is to spend more time socialising with each other in your home city.
- Being a nurse maid to friends – What happens if your friend gets sick? Will you be ok with potentially missing a flight, or having to go out in the dark hours to buy medicine? What if it happened to you? Do you think you can count on your friend to be supportive and understanding if you fell sick or got injured?
- Different accommodation styles – There's no use travelling with friends who insist on staying in 5-star hotels when you'd actually prefer to spend your sleep time in a cheap backpacker's hostel. Or, your friends like to go off the beaten path and find quaint little B&Bs but you only trust global brands. It's important you plan your itinerary together and work these things out before investing in international travel experiences.
- The big snore – Oh yes, snoring can be a huge problem when travelling with friends! When one person snores, everyone suffers, including the snorer who has to face being attacked with pillows in the middle of the night. This one is not to be taken lightly.
- Travel sickness sufferers – Do you suffer from motion sickness? Does the thought of setting foot on a water vessel make your stomach churn? Fortunately, there are excellent natural and medicinal remedies for travel sickness so if you or your travel partner go a little 'green at the gills' in cars or on trains, planes or boats, then be sure to pack something that will help so neither of you has to miss the scenery to hold the other one's hair back.
The good news about travelling with friends
Especially if you're a fairly inexperienced traveller, going with friends can be a much better proposition than trying to figure everything out on your own. Overseas travel is exhausting and can be confusing but you also want to have the time of your life. Your friends can help with all of that and more.
- Shared responsibilities – Even before you leave, there can be a lot of research needed depending on where you're going. There are visas to organise, flights and accommodation to purchase, documentation to assemble … by doing it together, it's less likely that you'll forget something important.
- Cost-sharing makes for cheaper travel – When two or more people share a room, it's obviously cheaper for each person. Plus, some accommodation styles expect solo travellers to pay a premium to have the room to themselves. Cruise lines frequently charge more for solo travellers because they don't benefit from the additional expenditure of a second passenger.
- Having someone you trust with you – Wherever you go in the world, there are bound to be challenges that will make you wish you could turn to someone you can trust. Some cities like Rome, Buenos Aires and Hanoi are famous for their pickpockets while for women travellers in particular, India, Brazil and Egypt are countries where harassment on lone women is frighteningly common.
- Two heads are better than one – If you have a friend who fluently speaks the language of the country you'll be visiting, then it's going to save you lots of frustration. Similarly, if one of you is an incredible haggler, you won't pay so much for purchases. Travelling with friends who are seasoned backpackers, experienced hikers, frequent flyers, trained in first aid or who are multilingual could come in very handy.
- Pooled resources – What if your purse is stolen and you have no money? This is an emergency and you'll need to seek help but the immediate answer is, your friend can help you out. There are also lesser considerations such as sharing clothes, makeup, toiletries and mobile phones. If one of you is lacking in something, the other will probably have something to offer.
- There's always someone to share the experience with – It's just not the same when you encounter something spectacular like an incredible moonrise or you see the Mona Lisa up close and personal for the very first time, and you have no one to share it with. It's fantastic to have a laugh, a cry or sing at the top of your voice with someone you know and care about.
- No need to dine alone – Eating alone can get tiresome pretty quickly. When you go away for two weeks and have every meal with no companionship but your own, you start to wish you'd travelled with a friend. It's so much more fun to order multiple dishes and share too, so you can taste a wider variety of foods.
The secret to harmonious travel with friends
Whatever you decide to do, find peace with your decision before you leave. Any time we engage in activities with other people, we have an opportunity to improve our negotiating and compromising skills. Your overseas trip could enrich your life in more ways than you think.