Or With a Mate?
You Have Options Either Way!
Once first bitten by the travel bug, your trips are governed by HOW, WHO, and WHERE. But as the bug spreads, (as it firmly grips your very plans in it’s hold), you quickly realize that the lifeblood of travel is much simpler; it’s about the experience. And that experience isn’t driven by flight paths or landmarks or even hotels; it’s driven by people, especially the people you enjoy your journey with.
That brings us to an age-old question: who should you travel with? Is it best to travel solo, travel with mates, or travel with complete strangers? Here are a few thoughts on each:
Cruising and or Traveling Solo
Some people swear by solo travel. They argue, it’s what being a true vagabond is all about: exploring remote places, meeting different people, but most importantly, discovering yourself. And in many ways, they’re right; trotting the globe without any companionship or support has to be the ultimate challenge in travel. While some who hadn’t traveled alone previously have described doing so as a near religious experience, as they find themselves for the first time actually taking in the nuances and surroundings without a partner’s prejudices, distractions or concerns often encountered when traveling with a mate. Traveling alone can give you the opportunity to indulge yourself completely. Also any mistakes you might make in travel decisions are yours alone. You get to do, go, and see anything and everything that YOU wish to take in without having to make any concessions to others. Most importantly, YOU get to decide NOT to do, go, or see anything that you really don’t wish to, It’s YOUR trip!
However, there are numerous limitations to solo travel. For starters, some trips are just too dangerous to undertake by yourself. As a professional cruise planner and tour conductor, I am generally traveling solo when escorting groups on cruises or destination travels, but at least I have the benefit of being alone while at the same time, being with a group. But, I have done my fair share of solo travel, so I do know a thing or two about the subject. Another crucial factor can be expense. As many hotels, resorts, and almost all of the cruise industry is geared to the “couple” travel scenario, many times single or solo travelers are met with hefty supplemental charges and fees when occupying rooms by themselves. But, you should check a little deeper to find (seek out) those cruise lines, ships, and destination properties that actually cater to the single traveler. There are a number of such providers that offer single or studio accommodations designed strictly for the single traveler in mind and in price!! See picture at right which is a photo of NCL newest ship the EPIC which features 130 studio staterooms just for solo cruisers. (Check out all my pics for the EPIC here). Some would point out that there is a lack of fun factor to traveling without company, but my adage is that you make your own fun in life! But then, that is just me. I do admit that while I don’t HAVE to be with someone to travel and have a good time, it sure makes it much better when my travel partner is along!!
My experience is that solo travel is best suited to people looking for something more in life. That doesn’t mean you have to be on the “verge” of a mental breakdown, it just means that you seek out a challenge, and you don’t want to soften the impact by depending on other people.
While I do think everyone needs to travel by themselves at some point in life, solo travel is by no means for everyone all of the time. It can get very exhausting, (financially and physically) very quickly. And regardless, there are countless benefits to sharing your travel experiences with other like-minded folks you may know, and even more so if it is someone you enjoy actually spending time with.
Traveling with Mates
Real travel mates are more than just sojourning folks you share a coffee or wine with. They’re soul mates, even if you don’t openly share that fact. They think like you, they act like you, and they want and like, the same things that you want, and like.
It certainly makes good sense to travel the world with your people who share your common goals. In addition to sharing the experience, you get to plan the trip together (arguably half the fun) and reminisce and relive the mischief for many decades to come.
Also, the diverse culture shock of some global regions, dogmas, and customs can be mentally tasking. And when traveling with your trusted mates, that shock isn’t just cut in half, it’s is drastically reduced. Just knowing you can turn to someone to shrug/laugh or scream, is all you need to survive in most unsettling foreign situations you might encounter.
The only real downside of traveling with mates, apart from potential fallouts, is that you’re taking a piece of home with you. If your intention is to learn new ways of life and rediscover yourself, then you may not get the full impact unless you go it alone. With that said, you can’t beat traveling with your mates as it is certainly the ultimate for pure enjoyment value.
Traveling with Strangers
If traveling single or solo is the ultimate challenge and travelling with your mates is the ultimate enjoyment, then travelling with strangers has to be the ultimate compromise. On one hand, you have the support of other people, but on the other hand, you don’t know them, so it’s still an exercise in self-discovery, or a learning curve involved.
But aside from the “distracter factor”, travelling with strangers provides you with a chance to make friends on a whole new level. These ‘strangers’ aren’t from home and they aren’t from your destination. They’re usually from an entirely different region and possess varied and unique skill sets, experiences, and stories (different from yours) to make your trips even more memorable.
In some cases, you don’t have a choice but to travel with strangers. Not only do you need their support, but often your mates just aren’t interested in traveling with you (for example, not everyone wants to ride the donkeys up to Fira, (in Santorini Greece). Other times, it’s just terrific to be able to find and meet people whom have similar aspirations as you. These people can even become your new best friends and before you know it, you’ll just be ‘traveling with mates’ again.
There is however, an obvious downside which is that you might find yourself stuck with the ‘constant complainer’. The type of person who just doesn’t enjoy themselves and thinks that you shouldn’t enjoy your travels either. While this can be sometimes tempered, the potential risk is always there when teaming up with strangers.
So, with whom should you travel?
To sum it up… Travel solo for maximum impact; travel with mates if you’re looking for fun times; and travel with strangers if you want to meet lots of new people. Of course there are exceptions, so just use this as a general guide. And don’t stick to just one; make sure you try all three at some time in life. After all, the WORLD was founded on exploring the unknown. One of the Services that Travel Groups can provide is Partners and Mate-up mixers, where you actually get the opportunity to meet your potential travel mates in-person well before setting out on your travels. You get an opportunity to get to know them and should there be any “red-flags” you can always select another or opt to go-it-alone. There are many such meet-up type groups. Check out Meetup.com to see if there are any in your area.
Which way suits you? Tell us what you think (you can comment below).
For more information on the options of Solo, Single, or Cruising or Traveling with Mates, contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow this blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also is editor of his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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