As I’m sure you can tell from my posts, I’ve always been a big fan of solo travel. But for the first time this year, I got the opportunity to travel with some of my best friends (and boyfriend). I booked the trip not expecting anyone else to join, but I sent out the itinerary to several of my friends who had expressed interest in traveling with me someday…and low and behold, three of them went ahead and booked the trip! We went to Colombia and the experience was different than my past trips – I wouldn’t say better or worse, just different. Here are a few things that I loved about traveling with my best friends….
- Things are inevitably less scary – When you are traveling alone and things go wrong, you can get a sudden lump in the pit of your stomach….what the heck do I do from here? Am I going to make it home alive? S*%T F$*@&*!!! But when you’re with pals, everything seems a little easier…there is safety in numbers and your chances of getting lost or swindled or mugged automatically go down a bit. It’s a sad but true fact that solo female travelers just need to be a lot more cautious than guys (not that men don’t need to be cautious at all, but it’s a different experience).
- More brains = a more brain-powered experience – In Colombia, we took several tours that ended up being all in Spanish. Now no one in our group was fluent in Spanish, but everyone had a little background in the language. So between the four of us, we could usually figure out the history of the cities we were in by piecing together the bits each of us understood (or who knows, maybe we were just re-inventing history to each other!) But more minds are generally better than one, and this can come in handy when coming up with game plans and solving problems.
- The costs go down – This one is kind of a no brainer. When you’re traveling alone, costs are generally the highest they are going to be. You’re eating meals on your own, having your own accommodations, paying for your own taxis, etc. But when you share the cab to the museum or can stay in a double room in the hostel, things inevitably become more affordable.
- You’ll grow closer than you thought possible – People met while traveling often become fast friends. When you spend 14 hours on an overnight bus on Christmas Eve, you generally spill a lot of beans to your bunk mate. But the same can go for friends that you embark on the journey with. Whether you’re sitting together on a long plane ride or enjoying Happy Shakes after an all nighter at the Full Moon party, travel helps people come out of their shell and makes them more open to sharing things about themselves that they wouldn’t share in their everyday lives. It’s a cool opportunity to see another side of your friends that you haven’t seen before!
- Afterwards there will be someone else who gets you – Often times you find yourself returning from a trip changed. Maybe you were pushed to the edge of your comfort zone or you witnessed something awe-inducing. Whatever it is, travel changes you for the better. And if you travel with friends, you’ll have someone who gets it. It’s hard to come home and try to tell friends about the awesome experience you just had. They try to listen, but it’s not the same as being there and witnessing it first hand. Now you’ll have people who you can look back on these memories with forever, remember them fondly, and understand how they influenced your life.
- You always have someone to take your picture – One of the biggest (and silliest) challenges when you’re traveling alone is figuring out how to get yourself in pictures! There is always the selfie stick…but often times you’d rather not lol. Asking strangers can lead to connections, but sometimes you’re in areas where there just aren’t people around to click the button on your camera. Having photo documentation of a trip is very important and something that you’ll look back on for years, so it’s nice having built-in travel photographers to help you out!
- Happiness is just all that much sweeter with your best friend in tow – I loved being able to turn to my best friend and share a knowing smile. I loved that my boyfriend could see something that he knows would make me laugh and point it out. Shared experiences are very powerful and wonderful things, and add to your overall happiness and joy on any trip.