Whenever I could, I brought someone with me. I am way too stupid and bold to have done this because I was afraid of traveling alone. I don’t have the good sense to be afraid of anything. Rather, I like to share experiences.
Once when I was 21, I was sitting on the beach somewhere outside Los Angeles and the sun was setting. A pod of dolphins started jumping over each other and playing in the surf. The setting sun was glistening on their bodies and they were making adorable noises. I turned to say “Did you see that?” But I was alone. There was no one to share the experience with. I didn’t even have a camera. So the moment passed, to be only experienced and remembered by me.
Now, it’s fine to be the only one to have an experience and the only one to remember it. I backpacked Thailand by myself, and I had a great time. However, that one moment on that beach really made me realize that I personally prefer to have someone there with me. I want to share experiences so that I can ask people “Do you remember that one time…?”
You can learn a lot about yourself having experiences alone, but you can also become more disconnected from people because you fill yourself up with things that no one on Earth can share.
There are exceptions to every rule, and I think that what will make you happy largely depends on what sort of life you lead. Humans have a lot in common with each other in a larger sense. And yet, in a specific sense, we’re often very different.
For example, let’s say that you are a solitary student about to graduate, and you are planning a trip. Will it make you weirder and harder to relate to if you go backpack Europe on your own? Probably. You’ll see beautiful things that you won’t get to share with anyone, and when you come back, you will feel like no one understands you.
However, imagine that you are a housewife with a husband, three kids, and a full-time job. Most days you don’t have a moment to think, let alone be introspective. In that case, a trip on your own might be good because it will give you a chance to stand back and take some time to yourself.
Of course, I suppose the risk you take when you travel alone and enjoy some self-discovery is that you won’t want to go back. It’s important to know that traveling makes your world bigger, and you can’t fit a bigger world into a tiny box. History is filled with stories of people who went for a trip and never came back. They weren’t murdered or anything; they just had some time to think, realized they were unhappy, and couldn’t stand the thought of going home. When it comes down to it, I think this is the very biggest risk associated with traveling.
Anyway, I bring people with me when I can. I like to share things, and I like to have someone to hold the camera.
Besides, I am a companionable animal. Every great discovery seems greater to me personally when it is shared with someone else. That’s just my opinion.
However, this opinion comes with a strong word of caution. It is better to travel alone than with someone bad. To give an example: I took my ex-boyfriend Jeff to Paris. He complained about everything! The room was too small. It was too rainy. The subway smelled. We got lost. It just went on and on. It seemed like nothing at all could actually make him happy.
Meanwhile, I took my husband to Oregon one year for my family reunion, and that was great. Our flight was delayed and he had no problem curing up with our luggage and sleeping in the terminal. Then due to fog we ended up at the wrong airport, and we had to drive ten hours to my mom’s house. Did he complain? No! He downloaded some audio books and we had a fantastic road trip.
I guess what I am trying to say is; travel is only fun if you focus on the good stuff.
Think about the golden Buddha in the shrine that you saw, not the fact that your hostel room looks like something out of a horror movie.
Think of a delayed flight as an opportunity to nap spread out instead of being cramped in a plane seat.
Think of a surprise road trip as a chance to listen to a new audio book or some of your favorite music.
Look at how you can make anything unexpected fun, because unexpected things will always happen when you travel, and it is your attitude that determines if you still have fun or not.