Backpacking | Learning to travel together after going it solo
In my seven months of travelling I’ve been lucky enough to experience travelling with all types of people from all walks of life, many of them I know I never would have met if it weren’t for my decision to travel. I’ve travelled with friends from home, I’ve travelled with friends I’ve just met, with natives of the countries I’ve visited, with two-week holidaymakers and long-term backpackers, and most importantly, I’ve travelled by myself. Now, after months of flitting between travelling with groups of friends and going it alone, I’m facing a whole new challenge of travelling with one other person for an extended period of time. It sounds crazy, but the longest I’ve travelled with anyone until now is just four weeks, not two whole months, and I always had the option to go off and do my own thing. Other backpackers will understand, it is different to travel with someone from home to travelling with people you meet on the road – there are greater expectations and more demands placed on you. Suddenly you are a travelling couple rather than the solo traveller you’re used to being. It can be wonderful in so many ways to travel with another person, but you can’t deny it takes a slight adjustment period when you are used to complete independence.
So say, like me, you’ve been travelling by yourself for six months, facing all kinds of situations head on, organising every visa, every ticket and every overnight bus alone. Then suddenly, you have someone else with you who wants to be involved with every decision and plan. It can be difficult at first to let someone else take control from time to time, but don’t forget there can be so many bonuses from having someone else there to lighten the load and take the pressure of from time to time. All you need is a little voice in your head to remind you when you need to let things slide a little bit and let someone else take the reigns. I’ve spoken to a few backpackers in the same situation lately and the same things are brought up again and again. “I feel like I have to look after him all the time and introduce him to people” or “I just never have any space of my own”, even “she doesn’t want me to be friends with everyone, just her”. While it’s okay to get frustrated at times, it’s always important to deal with the problem as soon as it crops up rather than letting it become an issue – but how do you do this?
Remember how awesome they are
It’s easy to forget in the little annoyances how much you love your travel buddy – whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, best mate or someone you’ve known since university. Just remember when you’re feeling irritated, because you will get annoyed at some point, that there is a reason you asked them to come and join you! Reminisce over all those times you laughed until a little bit of pee came out, about those crazy nights out – then go out and make some more memories!
Allow for their feelings too
Don’t forget that they are coming out to meet someone who they think is super cool for having travelled by themselves for so long. It can be intimidating to join your mate in their group of buddies because you feel like you have to impress the group – don’t put too much pressure on them, they’ll already be doing it to themselves. Particularly if this is the first time they will have backpacked – remember how you felt when you first came away!
Appreciate that everyone needs their own space
This applies to both of you – always remember that just as much as you like to have some time to yourself to pluck your eyebrows and play Candy Crush on your phone, they probably want some time to flick through Tinder and listen to music. Everyone needs space – for me, I like to have some quiet time to write blogs for you lovely lot, while Mark likes to catch up on sport and the news. His stuff couldn’t bore me more, and he’s not very interested in blogging unless it’s about him – so it works well.
If something the other person has said or done has bugged you for more than 24 hours, it might be a good idea to say something. Some people might think this causes more problems than it needs to, but I think it’s always best to get it out of your system so you can get on and enjoy your day. Often the other person hasn’t even realised you are bothered by what they said or did and will happily apologise. Be a grown up about it and it won’t turn into a row.
Stop being a control freak
It’s hard to stop taking control when it comes to planning and booking your trip, but just remember that as soon as the other person arrives it’s no longer just your trip – now it’s their trip too. You’re so used to organising everything but this is one of the benefits of travelling with someone – they can take the pressure off and book flights for you or choose a hostel. It’s fun to do it all together, and it can be lovely after six months of planning to sit back and let someone else do the work.
My best piece of advice – just enjoy every second, from sleeping in the airport together to dragging your sorry drunk arses home to bed just hours before a white water rafting trip. It’s all important and will become some of the greatest travel memories you will have. Travelling with another person creates a bond closer than just friendship and you will remember your trip together as long as you live – remember it for all the right reasons, not because you were arguing over something silly. Trust me, you’ll miss them when they’re gone and you have to go back to doing laundry with strangers and have to make friends at every hostel.
Who is your favourite travel buddy and why? Have you travelled with a friend or partner – how did it go? Do you prefer travelling solo or with a buddy?