Why YOU Are Your Own Ideal Travel Partner
Traveling with someone you care about can be rewarding. It can be a bonding experience that brings you closer, and gives you fond memories to look back on for years to come.
But that doesn't mean these trips always go perfectly.
Your travel style is as unique as your personality—so it's no surprise that it's difficult to find a travel partner that suits you exactly. Even someone you get along with well in "normal life" might turn out to be your polar opposite when you're out on the road, exploring a new place.
I've traveled with best friends, new friends, boyfriends, and family members over the years. Although I've made some wonderful memories with these loved ones, I've struggled throughout many of these experiences.
I'll fully own up: I'm a bit of a control freak. After all my travel experiences, I know how I like to do things. I like what I like, I have a specific, balance of planning and spontaneity that I consider to be ideal, and there are certain things I have little patience for.
So I might be a more extreme case, but everyone has these preferences to an extent. And even if you get along with someone well at home, it might be totally different once you're out on the road together, because you're suddenly in a completely different context with new types of decisions to make.
Here are a few examples of topics or scenarios that can cause a rift between travel partners:
Sleep schedules. I'm 100% not a morning person. So a travel partner who plans sightseeing activities that start at 7am is not going to be the right fit for me. Likewise, someone who is a morning person will likely be frustrated waiting around for someone who prefers to sleep till 10 every day.
Food preferences. An omnivore may get frustrated traveling with a vegetarian. A foodie may get frustrated traveling with a picky eater. If you want to try a local spot but your partner makes a beeline for McDonald's every time, you might be in trouble. You're probably going to eat out 2-3 times a day, every day of your trip. If you and your partner are incompatible in this way, it'll wear on you.
Bathroom-break timing. It drives me absolutely insane when my travel partner doesn't manage their bathroom breaks well. It annoys me to have to pause our plans at the most inopportune times so that one person can take a bathroom break they should've taken before. This is a more minor one than the others, but when it happens one or twice a day, every day of your trip, it'll wear on you too—or if you're the one who doesn't think too much about when and where you'll stop for the bathroom, you could end up frustrating your partner.
Spending habits. This can be a big one. If you're thrifty and want to rough it, but your travel partner only dines at five-star restaurants and won't stay anywhere but The Ritz, you're going to have a tough time.
Speed. Some people want to pack it all in on a trip, booking back-to-back tours, crossing every museum and monument off the list, not wasting a moment. Others want to go with the flow, people-watch, and take it slow so as to observe and get the feel for a new place. Also, some people are super-prepared and can be ready to leave the accommodation for the day in minutes; they're precise and punctual. Others want to take their time, don't worry much about being late, and have no problem moving more slowly. These two types of people will have a hard time being compatible travelers.
Any trip is an investment of your hard-earned money, and often times, you know you won't get another chance to come back to this destination. You want to make the most of it, and spend your time and money in a way you find enjoyable and rewarding.
To be clear, I'm definitely not putting down partner/group travel. I have and still do travel with friends and family sometimes, and I treasure the memories we've made on the road together.
BUT. I simply want to point out how enjoyable traveling alone can be too, when you don't have to worry about any of these travel-style incompatibilities. You're your ideal travel partner, because there will be nothing stopping you from indulging in your every whim, and there are no other travel styles to compromise with.
Morning people, rejoice: You can get up at 6am every day and watch the city awaken. Night owls, enjoy: No one's going to be rousing you before sunup.
You want to eat at the same restaurant every day? Have fun! You want to get grocery-store snacks for lunch but then treat yourself to a fancy dinner? Go for it! Whether you want to indulge in local delicacies or find a taste of home in a new city, no one will complain.
As a solo traveler, how you spend your days is in the hands of no one but you. There's no one to please or accommodate but you. You'll never wait around for anyone, or give up something you wanted to do for something they wanted to do instead. You'll never feel pressured to go over your budget, or be held back from indulging in a nice hotel room or fancy meal if that's what you prefer. Whether you want to sleep till noon or hit every place your guidebook mentions before lunch, you can!
Being in charge of every aspect of your experience is empowering and freeing. The stress of compromise disappears, and you have all the time in the world to focus on you, your wants and needs, and your preferences and desires for this trip.
Think back to the last trip you took with someone where you had disagreements, or made compromises you didn't really want to make. Then picture that trip again with yourself as your only travel companion, and imagine those travel-partner stressors disappearing!
What's something that frustrates you about group or partner travel that would go more smoothly or be more enjoyable as a solo traveler?
Happy solo exploring and happy travels,
Solo travel can be so rewarding—but if you've never done it before, it might seem intimidating, too. If you want to feel fully prepared and confident to take your first solo trip, check out my comprehensive online course designed specifically for female, first-time solo travelers: Solo Travel 101.