Traveling Alone Vs. Traveling with Friends
When I first hit the road, I was traveling alone. Sure, I had a buddy meet up with me, but for the majority of my trip, I was alone. Four months of hitting Latin American countries alone with little Spanish speaking ability. The epitome of adventure.
I wouldn’t trade that trip for anything. Relaxing on deserted islands, volcano boarding, getting jumped, learning to surf, a few sexy women, and so much more. Traveling alone as a virgin nomad was quite the experience.
Every single day was something new. I was on my toes at all times. I never knew what to expect or what the day would hold. My endorphins were in overdrive. Everyday was a rush of dopamine.
…But, the only constant in life is change and change. As humans, we are designed to evolve. While traveling alone was exciting, I eventually started making friends with other travelers and bloggers.
I began planning trips with the friends that I’d made due to my nomadic lifestyle. We started renting nicer apartments with multiple bedrooms and solid amenities. We hit the gym together and popped bottles at the club.
Now, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to go back to traveling alone for extended periods of time. I could, but I wouldn’t want to. Why? Because relationships matter. Making memories with good friends and/or family is something that cannot be replaced.
Benefits of Traveling Alone
Still, there are vast benefits to traveling alone. If you’re new to traveling, you should hit the road alone. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Expand Your Comfort Zone
When you’re alone in a new country, you will require human companionship. You can act like a hard-ass loner all you want, but you’ll eventually want to hang out with friends.
You’ll want to speak with someone. You’ll want to form a connection with a living being. So, you’ll have to get out of your shell and use your words.
You’ll have to talk to people at the gym. You’ll end up chatting up the people in line at the club. You might chat up the cute girl at the coffee shop. You’ll head to language learning events or join group surf lessons.
This will expand your comfort zone. You’ll speak to people you’d never consider talking to at home. Why? Because you have to. Your human. You need friends. You need someone to hang out with and shoot the shit.
- Make New Friends
Due to your need for companionship and the continual expansion of your comfort zone, you’ll end up making new friends. Lots of them. When you’re traveling alone and moving around quickly, you’ll end up meeting people from all walks of life.
The interesting part? These new friends of yours will often be different than your old ones. You’ll meet people that you never would have met or even engaged with back home. This will expand your worldview greatly.
- Unlimited Flexibility
When you travel alone, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You don’t have any plans with friends. You don’t have to go to the club at night if you don’t want to.
If you want to leave to a new city on the spur of a moment, leave your apartment trashed, or come home stumbling drunk and throw on Spotify at 4 a.m. – you can! And nobody will care.
Now, you don’t have to do anything when traveling with friends, either. But who wants to travel with someone that’s a hermit. You’ll end up with less true freedom when you’re on the road with your boys. It’s a trade off.
- Personal Growth
Not only will your comfort zone expand, but you’ll also grow as a person by traveling alone. You’ll get to know your true self. You won’t have anyone to listen to. So you’ll get to do exactly what you want to whenever you want to.
You’ll also become incredibly self-reliant while traveling alone. You’re in a new city where you know no one. You only have you to count on. If shit hits the fan, you have to solve the problems.
Downsides of Traveling Alone
Now, solo travel isn’t perfect. Far from it. Here are a few of the downsides:
- Requires High Energy
If you don’t know anyone where you’re going, you’ll need high energy to get the most out of the city. When alone, you’ll have to continually live outside your comfort zone to make new friends.
You’ll have time alone to recharge your batteries, but the first few weeks in the city without friends will require a lot. You’ll be going out alone, talking to people at the gym, club, coffee shop, etc., and spending a lot of energy creating your social circle.
- No One to Share With
Part of creating memories is having someone to share them with down the road. You want those common, shared experiences with your boys. Why? Because 5-10 years down the road you’ll bring them up over beers and start cracking up.
If you don’t have memories with your good friends, then the bond could crumble as life takes you separate ways. With memories, you’ll always have a commonality – even when your day-to-day lives currently are nothing alike.
- No Help When You Need It
If you travel long enough, you’re going to run into some type of trouble. That’s just how it goes. Without friends, a bad situation can get a lot worse. Sometimes you can’t handle a situation alone.
For example, I was in Colombia a few years back with a buddy who is fluent in Spanish. At the time, my Spanish was not great. I couldn’t understand much.
Then I got into a heated situation. Spanish was being hurled at me so fast I couldn’t understand a word. Fists started flying my way, but never landed. Luckily, my boy arrived just in time. He started replying back in Spanish and the situation quickly diffused.
If he wouldn’t have arrived with his fluent Spanish, things were going to go downhill for me – fast.
Benefit of Traveling with Friends
As you can imagine, the benefits of traveling with your friends will be the opposite of traveling alone:
- Always someone to hang out with.
- Built-in social circle.
- Someone to create memories with.
- A helpful hand when you need it.
- Someone to take Instagram photos of you.
- Overall, it’s just easier.
Downsides of Traveling with Friends
But traveling with your boys isn’t perfect. There’s a few downsides:
- Less flexibility. More compromise.
- You’re not forced to expand your comfort zone – if you don’t want to.
- You don’t make nearly as many new friends.
- The potential to not grow as much as a person.
My Ideal Scenario
After traveling for months on end alone and months with my friends, I’ve found the ideal scenario for me personally.
Ideally, I live in a city where I have friends, but I don’t live in the same apartment. Often, my friends and I will rent studio apartments in the same building.
This way you get the autonomy of living alone with the benefit of being near your boys. It’s a win-win. You can be alone when you want to, but still have the ability to make memories with your boys at the drop of a hat.
What Do You Prefer? Solo Travel or Traveling with Friends?
So, how do you like to travel? Do you prefer solo travel or hitting a new city with a crew? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on traveling alone vs. traveling with friends.