I’ve traveled alone in order to contemplate my life’s purpose. I’ve connected with family members on cruise ship reunions, and my husband and I have had our fair share of romantic vacations.
But, nothing beats having a best gal pal as a travel buddy.
1. It’s cheaper
Let’s cut to the chase. Saving money is usually the first priority when planning our trips. Imagine taking those hotel expenses and completely cutting them in half. Or, having someone to split your meals with.
Or, even being able to rent a car. Say goodbye to full-time travel expenses!
2. Two heads really are better
Maybe you’ve experienced island hopping down the Dalmatian Coast, while your friend hiked through an Amazonian Rainforest. Together, your past travel stories make you the perfect team to navigate a houseboat down the backwaters in Kerala.
Basically, putting your hard-earned knowledge together will allow you to become the ultimate dream team when it comes to being travel savvy.
3. Less worrying about safety
No one wants to walk down the street alone at night and worry about their safety. Having someone at your side, especially in unknown territory, is simply a good idea.
Or, at least, have someone who knows (and cares) that you made it back to the hotel at night.
4. It’s easier to meet people
Sometimes we need that friend who actually notices the guy attempting to sneak smiles across the restaurant while we blabber away about our latest bargaining escapade.
Sometimes we appreciate our outgoing and fearless friend who will get a conversation going, and sometimes it’s just easier to make friends when there are two of you.
Watch your group grow as you meet interesting people along the way together.
5. Sometimes we need a buffer
Then again, sometimes we are not in the mood to meet new people. Sometimes making constant small talk while traveling is exhausting, especially when you know you may never see that person again.
This is when we relish in the knowledge that we have a friend who will protect us from the guys we are just not interested in, or the sweet but talkative gal from the hostel.
Sometimes you need someone to swoop in and dance next to you when the drunk guy starts creeping into your dance floor bubble.
Your friend will be the one to rescue you from those all too awkward social situations and you, in turn, will be there to return the favor.
6. Someone to sit next to
Those plane, train and bus rides can be tranquil times to catch up on sleep or introspection, but they can also be long and boring. Having a friend who will entertain you with their obsession with playing games like twenty questions, will use the time to help put together the pieces of your latest relationship puzzles, or even just sit quietly with their headphones on is priceless.
The presence of a friend is enough to keep you company and combat loneliness on the road.
7. Someone to take your picture the old-fashioned way
It’s impossible to avoid selfie sticks these days; in fact, it’s easy to get whacked in the face with them if you’re not on the lookout. I have managed to resist this dangerous product, but I confess that I have deemed arm-length selfies acceptable, especially when trying to pile as many friends in the camera frame as possible.
Sometimes we want someone to capture our pretty faces (and outfits) in that picture perfect scene, quickly snap a pic of our perfect yoga pose before we fall over, or even to attempt the “One-two-three-JUMP” photo.
Sometimes, selfie sticks just don’t cut it.
8. Souvenir shopping advice
“Would my mom like this? Would my husband like this?” Your friend likely has no idea what souvenirs your mom or husband is dreaming of, but just being able to ask her and get an affirmation (“Of course she will love that fanny pack!”) makes you feel better.
9. Someone to watch your things when you go to the bathroom
I was literally sitting at an airport gate with my own travel buddy when I announced I was going to the bathroom and asked her to take a look at my list of “9 Reasons to Travel with a Friend” while watching my things.
She laughed when I got back as she reported that I forgot the most important (and obvious) one. This one is such a no-brainer that we often forget about it. Who wants to be the one trying to fit an over-sized backpack and carry-on into the tiny and possibly smelly bathroom stall?
10. A real person to share the moments with
These days, we have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to “share” our happiest moments with our loved ones, right? The fact that we often let ourselves believe this is somewhat laughable. Studies such as this one, on how Facebook makes us more lonely and unhappy, are starting to uncover the limitations of social media when it comes to fulfilling our needs.
Taking fabulous travel photos and sharing them on Instagram so your family and friends can keep up with your whereabouts (your grandma who recently joined Facebook will be ecstatic to see your face on any platform) can still hold pockets of joy, but those moments will never compare to the feeling of sharing a real moment with a real, live, breathing friend.
Next time you need to get away, take the time to find “your people.” Find the people who complement your personality, inspire you to persist cheerfully even when travel plans go wrong (as they always do) and allow you to be yourself on the good AND the bad days (yes, there will always be a bad day or two, even on vacation). Isn’t that what friends are for?