The quintessential debate on Solo Travel vs Travel with a companion or a group…And the argument continues…
Today is International Women’s Day . As I reflect back on all my travels in last one decade, they have mostly been Solo, however I am not a hardliner to over sell the concept of traveling alone. Yes Solo travel is fun, high on learning and it’s liberating, however travelling with a partner or a group of explorers is equally exciting, jovial and high on discovery.
Sometimes Solo, Sometimes Together!
Why I started traveling Solo?
As a child I was an exceptionally travel sick kid. Travel was equal to nausea, puking, headache or some new ailment which did not happen to me before. The smallest journey from my school to home was a suffering with me puking almost thrice a week (good stats!). And my big sissy always leaving her friends behind to take care of Me. Honestly I could write a separate post on My many embarrassing puking moments in public. My family and Me were all on the same page – I never ever can travel alone.
Life changed and i landed up in a job which made me live out of suitcase for 25 days a month. Traveling alone for a girl in India is neither safe nor a very pleasant experience, however when you have less options you start loving what you are doing. What started as a drudgery, soon became fun. I started loving my solo trips mixed with work and exploration. Thereafter there was no looking back.
You Love it? I Love it too. Whats so wonderful about Solo Travel?
Its so exciting to travel Solo. Really?? I must be an old mad cynical woman to say this. Well traveling all by yourself has certainly lot of merits to it which i can explain from my first-hand experience. And yes it’s a fast catching up trend now.
The tension free Solo swim.
Tough Decisions…Whats that?
When both of you or many of you are traveling together, don’t you spend endless hours first to decide where to go, how much to spend, how to share expenses, where to stay, where to eat, how to travel, what to carry, phew! endless decisions over which you squabble endlessly. Traveling Solo is so peaceful, you know where you want to go and where to eat and you freeze it then and there.
Solo Travel gives you the space you always want. Wake up when you want, go to your choice of places. You can decide your itinerary. You can explore places at your own pace. I have discovered more places by myself on solo trips than I have with others. Sometimes I do the touristy thing of seeing more places in a packed time, sometimes I do a traveller thing of soaking myself at one single place which I love.
No one is seeing you. Sit freely where you like. This is yours truly at a railway station in Switzerland.
I don’t have like-minded travel friends
I love historic places. I love going to museums as well. There have been times when I have gone with friends who are not fond of museums. While I admire the sculptures and paintings they fret whats so marvelous in twisted figures and admiring overdressed Victorian portraits. By the time we walk out of the museum, we have to walk to the nearest pub to chill our disagreements. Phew! Unless you have like-minded travelers, it maybe sometimes harrowing and at times compromising situations in your travel plans.
I don’t have to impress anyone
Yes I know all you Men have this complaint that women take ages to make an appearance from the powder room even on a holiday. Don’t all shops sell exotic bikinis to sun tans to coolers all for vacations? I have waited for fellow travelers who are busy striking the right combination between their footwear and lipcolor, after all, those pouts in selfie on Facebook will call for many Likes. I am at my filthiest best when I travel alone and trust me its very relaxing to wear the same jeans or shorts for the whole trip. No makeup and a bad hair day is all mine; and I am happy.(I seldom have my own travel photos on Facebook or my blog, now you know why)
And you can cleverly hide that unstylish outfit with some silhouette photography 🙂 I did it in the deserts of Emirates
More the Merrier! Travel with Companions is not bad at all.
There are lots and lots of pros of travelling with a companion and friends. You are certainly in for a lot of fun and exciting times. I have traveled with family, friends in India and abroad; I had the most memorable trips.
Catch up time. Being together is good!
Someone to look behind your back….SAFETY!
I recall one silly solo trip I did in 2007 in India. While traveling in the state of Kerala from Kovalam Beach to Trivandrum, I boarded a city bus, being tired, I slept, rather slumbered. I have no clue when I reached Trivandrum. When I opened my eyes, I was being shaken awake by the Bus Driver and Conductor and the bus was empty with only me and the two of them. Though they meant no harm to me, I was petrified to my bones being alone. I am sure many of you share this great habit of dozing off on travel like me. I miss a companion to watch over me when I land in such situations.
A Companion in the journey of Life!
I am Sick! I am Stranded! SAVE ME!
While Solo Travel rocks, you can actually go down to rocks if you fall sick. I remember on one trip to Chandigarh in India, I was gripped by a bout of viral fever and simply couldn’t even get up from my bed in the hotel. Fortunately my cousin drove all the way from Shimla to rescue me. Have you missed flights or been sometimes in a tight spot during travel? I have been plenty of times. One horror experience was being stranded in a small place Raniganj in East India at mid-night with no communication channel. At such times, all I can think about is to have someone along with Me.
Tired of Selfies! CLICK ME!
We endlessly click photos to preserve memories. When it comes to clicking your own photos, Solo Travel really sucks. Though you can stand anywhere and make those weird faces and click selfies for Instant Messaging, a better click with the landscape in background may be a better one to preserve in your Album. Traveling with friends really is the best solution to click happy photos. Thanks to such friends who traveled with me, I could get some decent profile pictures as well.
Clicking together, Experiencing together, traveling together!
The Itch of saying it all….SHARING!
You see Eiffel Tower, or Grand Canyon or Alps and you are just Wow. And then you want to incessantly rave about the beauty of these places. Or you expected a lot and got too less, you want to rant. Each of us want to express what we feel when we see these amazing places. There are jokes, and you want to comment on just everything to someone, don’t you miss a companion that time. I saw this grumpy portrait in Tate Modern, London who exactly resembled a person I despise at my work place. I burst out laughing in a relatively quiet gallery. Quite a shame, but I had this bad itch to tell someone about it.
Yes only with a partner in crime can you do all under the table conspiracies.
Friends, Friends and MORE FRIENDS!
Probably the best part of traveling with people is knowing them and then befriending them. I am sure each of you would have at least one friend you would have made in your life from any of your travels. I too made quite a few, and its so good to know people of different nationalities, different walks of life and then staying in touch with them for more good times. And you never know, your soul mate may be a fellow traveler too 🙂
Friends Forever! Friends for Life!
So whats the conclusion? I would take the middle path, as I travel heavily Solo but love going with a companion as well. My big problem is I feel my trip is ruined if I am not with like-minded friends. Glancing through my 2015 travel plans, all I can see are Solo trips. So I guess I am going to auction my companion spot. What you get is an adventurous and funny companion in return. Are you game?
Write back to me on firstname.lastname@example.org Would love to hear and publish your travel stories too.