It happens. You wake up in South Africa, wearing someone else’s shoes and wondering why there is an overly friendly warthog “big-spooning” you. Your head feels like an elephant sat on it and leaning against the wall is an ornate painting of last night’s Uber driver riding a unicorn over a rainbow. Right. You try hard to remember what happened, but cannot piece together a course of events. If only there was someone who could tell you how it all ended up this way. Someone to laugh with about the wrong turns you made together, or stop you from trying to herd a warthog into the backseat of an Uber in the first place.
Travelling with friends makes travelling better. Friends can make your life on the road easier, funnier, and they are always there to remind you of anything that was overlooked. Even those evenings you might want to forget. Here are my top five reasons why travelling with friends is always a good idea.
1. They can help you do things you can’t
If, like me, you aren’t very practical (think less Man vs Wild and more “man battling to find a hair product that survives the rigours of a sweaty nightclub at 3am”) then having a friend travelling with you can come in handy.
Full disclaimer here: my hands are not covered in callouses, I cannot change a car tire, and there are days when, if I didn’t have a smartphone or credit card, I would be as likely to survive as a sedated sloth is to finish an ultra-marathon. However, knowing your weaknesses is not a bad thing if you plan ahead and choose your travelling companions wisely.
Put simply, practical friends are some of the best friends you can go travelling with. From being able to help navigate complex underground train networks, to checking if your hire-car isn’t starting because it was cursed by the cashier you accidently short-changed at the supermarket, or if it is just out of petrol — friends who are good at getting things done can help take the stress out of travelling.
2. They can save you money
No matter what the barefoot dreadlocked backpacker in the hostel with the questionable scent might have told you — money, unfortunately, is a way of life and somewhat of a necessity when it comes to travel. And while this hostel-hero may be able to get by swapping food for hugs, you’ve got a direct correlation between your funds and how long you can spend on the road. Thankfully, travelling with friends can help extend the good times. Many travel experiences — from tours to accommodation — become costlier when undertaken solo. Being able to share the costs of things like rooms and transport means that both of your travel savings will last longer and that you can go further on your adventures.
3. They can be a voice of reason on the road
Everything stops. Time. Your heartbeat. All thoughts of what life will be like two minutes from now. Stopped. You can hear your eulogy being read faintly in the distance. Phrases like “genius,” “so good looking they made me cry,” and “the greatest human to have ever lived” fill your ears, but do nothing to reassure you. You fight hard against the urge to squeal as the zipline slackens and you’re told not to worry. It is the best way to view the forest. The view will be amazing and it is perfectly safe... most of the time.
How did you end up here? You always said you wanted to try new things when travelling, but this is an adventure too far. If only you had someone with you to tell you not to be so stupid. Someone to make you walk past the “see-the-jungle-from-its canopy” sign an hour earlier.
Travelling with friends — those who know you the best and aren’t afraid to pull you back into line — can provide a much-needed voice of reason on the road. They can help you out of sticky situations and prevent you from having to examine your travel insurance policy for coverage details on glorified self-flight experiments in the first place.
4. Because everyone needs a little holiday romance quality control
We’ve all been there before. You fly into a far-flung land and within days have fallen for an ancient city’s narrow, winding alleys full with local food-sellers; the smell of spices seasoning the air as you walk aimlessly absorbing everything. Over dinner you catch the eye of a mysterious fellow traveller whose stories captivate you and make the evening pass all too quickly. They are different than anyone you have ever met, and combined with all that wine, all too easy to fall into a holiday romance with.
A bit of love on the road is never a bad thing. In fact, the cliché of a brief holiday romance can be one of the best things about travel. But sometimes we all need a friend to take off our wine-tinted glasses before we fall for another traveller whose bedpost notches are outpacing their passport stamps three-to-one. After all isn’t it better to have a friend tap you on the shoulder and let you know that “tall and dark” is more “short and bulbous” prior to heading off into the night with them?
5. You get your very own selfie stick
Few things are harder for solo travellers than trying to take the perfect selfie. From trying not to hit other tourists in the head with the extendable pole of the selfie stick, to judging their best angle, to forcing an expression like an imaginary friend just told a hilarious joke, the process can be painful to watch.
Thankfully, travelling with friends brings about many benefits. Not only does it mean that there is someone to watch your backpack when buying that postcard your mother has been bugging you to mail to your aunty who lives with a lot of cats, travelling with friends also means that there is always a personalized, real-life selfie stick on hand to capture your best moments. Want a photo of you looking contemplatively cool over a street-side dinner in Buenos Aires? Just ask a friend. Want a picture of you straining to push the Leaning Tower of Pisa back upright? Impossible with a selfie stick, unless that selfie stick is a friend you went to high school with called Kirsty who knows your best profile and isn’t afraid to tell you when to filter.
G Adventures runs a number of departures encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips.