Travelling solo vs with friends vs with family

Happy 2018!  After a short break…it’s time to finally wrap up this post. lol.

This is not bragging at all, but my life of travelling began when I was a toddler.  I’ve been travelling with my parents since I was little, perhaps once every year.

After almost 2 decades, December 2015 was my first time travelling with my friends; June 2017 was when I took the leap and travelled by myself for the first time; 2017 was also the year where I’ve done all three:

France, the United States, and Portugal with different friends; Sweden and the Netherlands solo; Poland with family.

I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I thought it would only be appropriate to compare what I think about each of them at every stage, after so much travelling was done in 2017.  Without further ado…let’s begin!

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Planning

Needless to say, travelling solo is obviously the one with the most freedom.  You can plan whatever the heck you want on your itinerary, you can even not plan anything at all – which is kind of what I did.  I only started looking into detail of places to go until I arrived Stockholm and Amsterdam respectively.  Not recommended for everyone, but it worked for me.

Planning is really fun with friends.  You get to do the research together: browsing hostels/AirBnbs, looking up bus and train schedules, restaurants to dine at, sites to visit, and going through pictures on Instagram (as us millennials do these days lol).  I personally enjoy this process a lot, and it’s such a satisfaction to see the calendar all filled up, and the Google Maps all tagged with places to visit.  But obviously that depends on the people you’re travelling with – if they are easy-going, or if you share similar interests, because that would make a huge difference.  Luckily my travel mates are all either very relaxed or we have a lot in common, so it has been really fun!

Travelling with family is perhaps the most relaxing in terms of planning…for my case anyway.  Because my mum tends to do all the research and planning, basically EVERYTHING.  And the itinerary that she comes up with is usually quite packed and perfect, so I basically don’t have to do anything apart from being physically present.  For the recent family trips (Korea and Poland) I did try to take part more, for example I did list the places I wanted to visit, but at the end of the day my mum is usually the one who puts the whole schedule together.  (Thanks mum lol)

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The travelling

I enjoyed my solo travel A LOT.  You can follow your itinerary as closely or loosely as you wish; you can stay at any place as long as you want to; you can stop and take as many photos as you want to without needing to feel bad for your friends waiting; you can sleep as long or short as you want to.  You’ve got no one to wait for.  You can go back to the hostel and have a nap whenever you want to (which was the case for me, unfortunately, because I wasn’t feeling well towards the end of the trip, so I went back to the hostel for an afternoon nap in an empty dorm room), you can do WHATEVER THE HECK you want to!  I really enjoyed the freedom.  For example, one thing I really love is going to a café for breakfast; chill for a little bit while I sip my tea and eat, while writing my travel journal, looking out the window and see the world go by, or just enjoying my own company.  But one (very specific) downside is about food.  Because I have such a small appetite, I didn’t get to try a lot of the food that I wanted to.

STORY TIME! When I was in Amsterdam, one morning I decided to go to a café for breakfast and chill for a little bit (CT Coffee & Coconuts which, by the way, was ABSOLUTELY LOVELY.  I would move to NL because of that if I can.).  I then decided to go to the nearby Albert Cuyp Market…with a full tummy, which was a very bad decision.  Because the market is famous for its food vendors, and when I finally arrived, all I saw was the stroopwafels, pancakes and herring that I can’t eat because I was too stuffed after breakfast.  Sad times.

But if you’re travelling with friends (or family too) – not only you can have a bigger meal, you also get to try a variety of local delicacies.  And if you can’t finish whatever you’re having – just give it to the friend who has three times the appetite, or dad. 😀

Travelling with friends was perhaps the most fun.  Because you can banter along the way, make fun of other people with a language that the locals don’t understand (not recommended AT ALL but just saying…you could…).  I found travelling with friends more fun than with parents in a different way, because you are more likely to be in the same age range, so supposedly you have more in common to talk about, and more similar interests.  For example taking grammable photos for each other to post on Instagram (for us basic semi-millennials anyway), and making inside jokes.  I also find that travelling with your friends really makes your bond even stronger (so here’s a shout out to my dearests who successfully endured being stuck with me for so many days lol.  I’m super annoying…so thank you!).  Because you’re with each other pretty much 24/7 for the whole duration of the trip, you get so much time with each other to talk about all the things you don’t get to talk about normally (for my case, in uni).  Not only you know so much more about each other, that friendship bond does get a lot stronger, because now you share a memory that belongs exclusively to you.

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STORY TIME! My friend J brought a set of Cards Against Humanity when the three of us went to Barcelona.  And we had a lot of fun drinking beer and laughing in our hostel room.  This is definitely something you absolutely would NOT be doing with your parents.  Another story!  When I went to San Francisco with my friend N, her laptop accidentally broke down, so instead of sightseeing, we spent the whole afternoon of our first day at the Union Square Apple Store.  Although it was a bit of a bummer at that time, now we have a story to throw back to in the rest of our lives. ❤

I’m very comfortable with travelling with my mum and dad.  I feel like things just fit into place naturally because we’ve done this for so many years.  My dad and I (mainly my dad actually) would be responsible for directions; my mum is usually the one to tell my dad and I to hurry in the morning.  Being the young tech savvy in the family, now I would look up directions on my phone too.  Since I sort of taught myself reading simple Hangul, when we visited Korea, I also helped with getting around and reading signs.

Mobility

This is about freedom to get around.  In Stockholm there were days where I only took one or two rides on the metro/bus, and throughout the day I just walked.  Which felt nice because the weather was really comfy and great, and I didn’t mind walking over 20 or 30 minutes to get to where I needed to be, while soaking up some sun and looking around places around me.

Travelling with friends is okay too, because we don’t mind walking a lot either.

With my parents, obviously they need more breaks between walking, and they would very much prefer not to walk if bus/tram/train is available.  So I spent more time sitting than walking.  Which isn’t too bad, because you won’t be as exhausted.  But still I would prefer walking to be honest, because I enjoy walking around places to see the surroundings.

But then this really depends on where you’re going.  For example in LA we pretty much took an Uber whenever we needed to go somewhere, because LA is just SO spread out, it’s impossible to go anywhere without a car.  But most of the cities I’ve been to in the past one or two years (Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, Krakow) are all very walkable.  For Amsterdam and Stockholm in particular, these two are both very bike-friendly cities, but being the sucker that I am, I still cannot ride a bike…at age 21…shame…

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One thing to note though, is that when I travelled with my friends, there were places where I knew they wouldn’t be interested in as much as I am, but I REALLY want to go (like Palau de la Música Catalana, and a few contemporary art museums).  So we decided to split up, and I found this to be one of the best advantages to travel with friends!  Because you’re not completely on your own in a foreign country – your friends will be there to save your back if anything happens (God forbid); meanwhile you still get some personal space.  And while you do that, your friends have the chance to go to places that you might not like so much.  So it’s really a win-win situation.

ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING.  Travelling with parents is the only time when I didn’t have to care about budgeting 😂 When I travelled by myself and with friends, I really had to record every penny I spent.  But when travelling with my parents, not only they pay for meals and everything, the one big difference is that when buying souvenir and presents, the budget is more flexible.  So yep.  Being the spoiled little brat that I am, I gotta do this while I still can (joking…or am I? 🤔).

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So…is there a best way to travel?  Well, it really depends on what kind of person you are!  If you easily get bored, it’s better to travel with a friend to keep you company throughout your journey.  If you’re a bit of a free spirit, it’s best to travel solo!  But obviously you need to be somewhat organised and good at directions, so you don’t mess up your holiday (I was really close to ruining mine at the very beginning, and here is the story, lol).  But if you’re an extrovert (which I don’t think I am), you can easily make friends even when you travel solo!  But at the end of the day, travelling is all about the experience, so just do whatever suits you and makes you happy!

I had a lot of fun writing this post, it just brought back so many lovely memories from the past year or two.  Most importantly, thank you SO MUCH to my travel companions – I know I’m super annoying, and I can’t be more grateful that you didn’t leave me even after all of that. 🙂 ❤

And again, this is only my opinion, you can always disagree with me.  But I would love to know how do YOU like to travel!  Any thoughts? Leave a comment below 🙂 


Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t be a stranger, stay connected!

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Take care and see ya soon! ❤

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