The bulk of my travels have been going it alone from country to country. As an expat in Japan for the first time, there wasn’t a weekend I didn’t hop a train and end up in a hostel or lodging without a reservation. However, after so many years going it alone, I stopped getting much satisfaction out of my travels. The times I was dating someone as we explored Paris, relaxed on a beach in Puerto Galera, and enjoyed food and culture in Toronto will stand out as some of my best travel memories. When it comes to the different types of travel – solo, with friends, group travel, and couples — there are definitely more advantages to having a significant other at your side on the road.
Solo travelers may have more flexibility when it comes to travel. One person to look out for, means he or she is the sole decider of what to eat, where to go, and when to leave. If you want to cut your Thailand trip short and hop a plane to Cambodia, you don’t have to check with anyone.
However, this also means there’s no one to push you other than yourself. If you’re exhausted and feel like blowing off a trip to the museum, no one is going to encourage you to push through your fatigue. When you’re sharing your trip abroad, there’s a good chance at least one of you will be ready when your tour is ready to depart or your dinner reservation approaches. Having that personal connection means your partner is uniquely suited to guilt you into participating, more so than any good friend would be able to do – a friend would probably just let you sleep if you wanted.
As a solo traveler, even one packing light, I’ve had to bring my day pack and roller bag into a public bathroom stall barely designed to accommodate me. It’s a huge relief to have someone at your side when you’re hauling heavy bags and need to duck into the toilet.
Of course, there’s more to your significant other than being an attractive coat checker. If you’ve ever traveled in one country solo and thought of it a certain way, walking the same streets while holding a sweetheart’s hand may completely change your impressions. Bar girls in Thailand are less likely to harass men with girlfriends. Vendors and scammers can be more easily deterred if a couple is telling them to get lost rather than one person who doesn’t look busy.
3. Having someone who cares
If you’re just planning on a week-long beach vacation at a fancy hotel at which your every whim is catered, chances are you’re not going to feel homesick. However, plenty of long term travelers have all sorts of demoralizing things happen to them on the road: scams, delays, theft, assault, illness. Not being able to fly home immediately, jump into your bed, and make your favorite comfort food isn’t the worst problem to have, but for some travelers, it can feel like the end of the world.
When it feels like good luck has abandoned you and all you need is to feel safe and wanted, being part of a couple traveling can help get you on the road to recovery must faster. Just having someone who cares about you as a person when you are thousands of kilometers from everything you know can mean everything — and of course, physical comfort doesn’t hurt either.