I’ve travelled solo and travelled as part of a couple. While both of them have been awesome in their own right, they’re completely different and impacted me in different ways. But, which one was better? Today I share my experiences with both, what I got out of each one and my thoughts on which one I’m planning on doing more of…
Like a lot of people, I went travelling because my head and my heart were a complete mess. I needed some time and space to sort myself out and I felt like I needed something big to happen in my life. I needed a big change, a huge adventure and something to rip me out of my normal life and into something completely different. A solo trip to Europe will do all those things for you.
Travelling solo for the first time was really scary to begin with. I had always been in a relationship or surrounded by friends and family, so I was always considering them in the decisions I made. When it came time to travel solo I was making decisions just for me, for the first time in my life. What do I want to eat today? What do I want to see? Where do I want to go and when? Every moment was mine.
Away from the thoughts of other people and finally able to tap into my heart, I was able to start to find out who I really was. I was able to listen to all the ideas and desires swirling around inside me and start piecing them together. It gave me a new-found confidence and faith in myself. If I had taken this same trip with friends or my partner, I wouldn’t have gotten the same things out of it.
Travelling by yourself gives you a big kick up the behind, like a massive shove into the unknown. You can’t afford to sit around and wait for someone else to tell you what to do and where to go, help you get organised and motivated. You have to take charge and be responsible for everything, from getting yourself to the airport on time and not leaving anything in your hotel room, to staying safe and having fun. It’s all on you. You get to reap the rewards of being an awesome traveller and also wear the cost of being a crappy one too.
Overspent and totally broke? It’s your fault. Found a really cool view-point and taken amazing photos? You did that! Got lost and felt terrified? You stuffed up. Had the best day of your life walking around Rome eating gelato? You rule!
Solo travel is incredibly liberating, it allows you to reclaim yourself and take ownership of everything. You’re like a leaf in the wind, just going from place to place. Nobody knows you and nobody cares, so you’re totally and completely free to do, say, wear, eat and be whatever the heck you want to be. It’s a life-changing experience and something I feel everybody should experience at least once in their lives. Even if it’s just taking a week at a beachside resort by yourself.
Matt and I got engaged right before we moved to London and it was an awesome way to officially start our lives together. It was like an engagement-moon! We both wanted our whole lives to be about travelling, so getting engaged then taking off and doing it was like we were committing to our life plan and making it happen.
I could not have made it through our London gap year without Matt by my side, there’s absolutely no way. When I felt homesick, stressed about my horrible job and worried we’d made a huge mistake by moving, he was there to ground me and put things in perspective. When I was standing somewhere beautiful, experiencing something amazing and seeing an incredible place, he was there to say, “Holy crap, this is amazing! I love this!”
Having someone to share everything with is fantastic. After a big day of exploring we could sit down with a drink and talk about our favourite parts of the day or the things we thought were crappy. We could remember the funny things that happened and talk about our all-time favourite food experiences and travel memories. Matt could take charge and make all the plans for a holiday and the next time I could do it, taking turns took the pressure of each of us.
As I’ve said in previously, travelling as a couple can push you to the absolute outer realm of what you think you’re mentally and physically capable of surviving. When you’re tired, hungry, frustrated, cold and/or lost, you turn into a different version of yourself and things can get real tense, real fast. Matt and I have had some cracking arguments about goodness-knows-what, and at the time it’s made even more intense because you have nowhere to retreat and no-one to turn to.
When you’re having a blow-out argument in the middle of Budapest you can’t pick up the phone and call your best friend to vent. This is one of the best things about travelling as a couple because it forces you to deal with things. If you want to get on with your life and enjoy your trip, you can’t hold onto this anger. You’ve got to sit down and talk it out, communicate and find a way to get over it.
Travelling as a couple is almost like some wonderful and completely cruel couples therapy retreat! You’ll have the time of your life and your relationship will come out the other side so much stronger for doing it. You’ll learn a lot about each other and understand the other person a whole lot better. You’ll have made memories that can never be lost or replaced and will have experienced so much with the person you love.
Solo vs Couple
So, which one is better? Would I rather travel solo or travel as a couple? I think each one is incredibly valuable at different times of your life. When I was lost and trying to figure my life out, travelling solo was the only way I could work through it all and found the space, clarity and perspective I needed. When I was confident in what I wanted from my life and was living that out, it was perfect having Matt there with me to share it all.
At this stage of my life, the ‘figured it out’ stage, I can’t imagine myself travelling without him. I love to take trips away just with my girlfriends or with my mum and little sister because it’s important to have some time out and spend time with the other people in your life who you love. But when it comes to visualising the rest of my life and all the travel I have planned, I can’t imagine doing it without him.
I’d still love to take some time out and do some more solo travel here and there, but not as far away or for as long as I don’t want to miss sharing in the adventure with Matt. It would be great to spend a week at a beachside meditation retreat once a year, to unwind and reconnect with myself from time-to-time and come back to the real world centred and clear. When I returned, the house would probably be burned to the ground and a starving, shivering, dirty and depressed Matt would be sitting on the smouldering earth where our home once stood. On second thoughts, I best just bring him along to the meditation retreat too.
What are your thoughts on Solo Travel vs Couple Travel? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts, please share in the comments below.
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Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.