My second big trip abroad was unlike my first in many ways. I had a more realistic idea of what I wanted out of my trip, there was no expectation to religiously stick to a plan, and this time, I brought my best friend Stephanie with me. Neither of us were happy in our university programs, me in my first year and her in her second. I had invited Steph on my previous trip to New Zealand, but she had commitments that she couldn’t risk compromising. So one gloomy day in the middle of winter, sitting on my dorm room bed, I suggested to her that we go to Australia in the fall, instead of university. I was serious about the idea, but didn’t know if she would say yes, and honestly at the point I might not have gone without her. But luckily she’d had enough or dorm rooms and lecture halls, and said yes!
Our trip was full of excitement and many changes. We ended up traveling together for seven months, and then I went off on my own for one month before I went back home to Canada for the summer and for my brothers high school graduation. Steph on the other hand stayed in Australia for the full two years of her visa! Both of us still plan to continue travelling and we learnt a lot on our trip together. It was the best decision we could have made to travel with our best friend, so here I have outlined the reasons on why you should travel at least once with you best friend as well!
- It tests your friendship. If you think you were close before, try being with each other all day every day and making every decision together. When things go south you have to work with the other person to problem solve, instead of blaming one another as a jerk reaction. As a result, if travel doesn’t tear you apart, it is going to make you closer than ever. It turned out I liked to plan more than Steph did, so in the beginning I felt like I was doing all the work, but in reality she recognized that I loved planning and she didn’t mind either way. Having someone I was so close to was helpful because we could discuss the issue and get through it smoothly. You also have someone with you who is comfortable calling you out when you are being annoying or unreasonable which can prevent a lot of travel mistakes from happening.
- You will never be lonely. Hostels can be an intimidating place. The bigger they are, the more people there are to socialize with. Walking up to a group of ten backpackers that are already in established conversation can be a socially stressful move. If you and your best friend approach together, you will feel like you have a bit of backup. Steph and I found that socializing at every hostel could be quite exhausting. When travelling with a friend, you won’t feel as obligated to make new friends at each hostel if you are exhausted or not in the greatest mood. We never felt isolated in the crowd because we were never alone.
- You have someone to help you when things go wrong. Travel is never perfect. People who think backpackers are on a permanent holiday only see half of what goes on. When your credit card gets blocked in a foreign country, or one of your belongings is stolen, situations can get very stressful. I found having my best friend around was helpful because we could talk each other through the tough situations. I lost count of how many times my credit card was blocked in Australia and Steph had the same problem. Luckily we always had each others back, and our cards never seemed to be blocked at the same time!
- You have someone to share all of the amazing memories with. Having your best friend travel with you is like having your own personal photographer. Unless you want a photo together, you’ll never have to ask a stranger to awkwardly take a photo of you again! I also found that when arriving home after travelling solo, friends and family like to hear about your trip for the first week or two after you get home, but then the novelty wears off and they tire of hearing about that time you snorkeled the great barrier reef and half the boat got seasick. But your best friend who was on the boat with you will love to recall your hilarious memories you made together.
- You can split certain travel costs. Sometimes you won’t be travelling at peak times of day and public transportation won’t always be an option. Cabs can be expensive if you don’t have someone to share them with. Split between you and your best friend will save you quite a bit of money after a while! When you aren’t travelling solo you also have the option to upgrade to a hotel or an airbnb for the night. Alone it wouldn’t be affordable but when splitting the costs it can be a similiar price to a bed in a hostel, plus you get your own room, kitchen ad bathroom!
- You encourage each other to get out of your comfort zone. Chances are you trust your best friend more than most people in your life. What better way to encourage each other to do fun and exciting things you might not normally do? Whether it be skydiving, bungee jumping or going to a nude beach, you may only have the guts to try these things with you best friend’s support. Without having Steph with me, I may have never gone skinny dipping in the ocean. Doing goofy or adventurous things is easier with someone you love and trust.
- You have one less person to communicate with at home. Not everyone can just cut off communication with their friends and family back home while they travel. It can take up a lot of time scheduling skype calls or answering multiple emails. Chances are the closer you are with someone, the more you will keep in touch, therefore all the time you would be spending telling them about your trip, you could actually be making more memories with them in person.
- You have someone you trust with you during your worst moments. I have had many incidents where Steph has seen me at my worst and it goes both ways. There’s nothing like some random you met seeing you throw up and hold your hair when they barely know your name. those hangover days, sick days, homesick days or just plain everything is going wrong days are easier when you know your travel companion isn’t judging you. You may have thought you’ve seen each other at your worst, but travel will test those limits. But it will all be worth it because just when you think everything is wrong and you should book your plane ticket home, you have a support system with you who will convince you to keep going.