Is It Better To Travel Alone?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I’m sure other people get this too, but every time I tell someone my plans to head to a particular location, the next question is inevitably, “Who are you going with?” When did a travel partner become a requisite for travel and why is it assumed that you are always going to be traveling with someone? In my mind the next question that I would be asking would be, “How long are you going?” — which is usually the third or fourth question I get following “Why?” (after I tell them I like traveling alone) and “Is it safe there?”

The NZ Herald’s Travel editor Jim Eagles ponders the question, “Which is better, solo or together?” (A pertinent question given Valentine’s Day arrival this week, but that’s for a totally different kind of web site.)

Eagles quotes writer Jonathan Raban’s take on the perils of traveling with someone else: “You’re never going to see anything; you’re never going to meet anybody; you’re never going to hear anything. Nothing is going to happen to you.”

Eagles disagrees, reasoning that your travel partner probably has interests more varied than yours, forcing you to expand your boundaries (interesting point — but what if those interests happens to be professional wrestling or eating at McDonalds?), and that a shared experience always takes on more meaning than one on your own. True, but of course they have to share your own enthusiasm and are willing to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m., ride on a rickety bus to the middle of nowhere, or trek for hours through swarms of mosquitoes and muddy paths for you to finally get to the place where you can share that certain experience (but if they’re willing to do that, then you’ve found yourself a keeper).

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