In a recent post I talked about how long-term travel can affect your old friendships back at home, but what about those friends that you make on the road, or the friends from home that you go travelling with? Travel has a way of showing you just how solid your friendships really are, and bouncing around the world for months (or years) with the same person, day in, day out, really is a true test of your friendship. Travel friendships are ones that can last a lifetime.
That’s not to say you can’t travel with your friends. I’ve spent the majority of my travels in a pair or a group and I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it. I’ve travelled with friends from uni, I’ve travelled with friends from camp and I’ve travelled with people I’ve met on the road. Each one of these sets of friends come with their own unique ups and downs, and as we know, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to travel, only the way you as an individual want to.
Here are some of my pros and cons of travelling with friends:
– You have a safety net everywhere you go.
– You’ll never be alone, so you’ll always have someone to talk to and laugh with.
– There’s someone to share every experience with and someone to share memories with once your travels are over.
– Long journeys are far less boring with your bestie by your side.
– “Happiness is only real when shared” – Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp.
– You can find yourself being restricted by where the other person does or doesn’t want to go.
– If you’re traveling in a group it can be hard to make new friends on the road, as your group can be intimidating or hard to crack into for an outsider.
– You may have very different levels of funding (or attitudes to spending), which can put a strain on either party.
– Everything that annoys you about your travelling companion will at some point be magnified and you might end up hating them.
Personally I love travelling with friends, and while it can put a strain on your friendships, it starts to teach you about what sort of traveller you are.Travelling with friends teaches you patience and compromise, it teaches you that disagreements are ok, and communication is the key if you want to be a successful travelling team. Obviously, if none of these things seem appealing to you, then maybe that just tells you you are meant to be a solo traveller. And that’s great too.
When travelling with a friend, it can go one of two ways. You will either become a team and an unbreakable unit, or you will start to see a few cracks in your friendship and you may end up going your separate ways sooner that you’d planned. Travel can make or break friendships and it has the potential to ruin a perfectly good thing, to take every little thing about your travelling companion that you like and/or dislike, and maximise it to a point where tiny details become big issues and you end up spending your whole experience bickering about things that don’t even matter.
Over the years I’ve learnt that some friendships were made for lasting out long-term travel, and others, well, weren’t. And that’s not to say one friendship is better than the other, or you like one friend more than the other. It just means that some people are wired differently and can gel better under ever-changing and sometimes stressful circumstances, circumstances that travel provides you with pretty much everyday. I’ve had great experiences with all my travelling companions, but I’ve learnt that some friendships are built for that day-to-day, on the road experience, and some are better suited to short trips, like holidays and weekends. And some friendships can’t make it at all. During a life on the road, friends often come and go – you’ll meet people who you travel with for a year, people who you’ll hang out with for a week, and sometimes people you’ll spend a day with and then never see again. And that’s ok. It’s all part and parcel of your travelling experience.
So when you’re choosing people to go travelling with, think about each other’s characters, and all the little things that grate on you about that person (be honest, even your BFFs annoy you sometimes), and then think about being with that person all day every day, on trains, buses, planes, in hostels, in a campervan, when they’re tired, when you’re tired, somebody’s ill, somebody’s grumpy. If you can deal with all that and still enjoy your experience together, then you might have just found your perfect travelling friendship. Hold on to them, they don’t come around very often.