Friends are great. Do we love them? Yes, we do. Can you have a fun holiday with them? Yes, you can. Can they ruin a holiday? Sometimes. Can you get more by occasionally travelling without them? Most definitely. Here are six reasons why you shouldn’t travel with friends.
1. Let’s start with science
As you probably know, travel is dead good for your brain, particularly adventure travel. Fresh air, exercise, excitement and new experiences all make for a healthier, happier you. This last point, in particular, is great for your memory, as you’re laden with ‘novel stimuli’ which aid memory retention and concentration.
Obviously, when travelling with strangers, loads more of your stimuli will be novel. Not just that, but merely meeting new people is excellent for mental health and performance. Science: giving you reasons to have fun for three millennia.
2. You can’t go your own way
If you’ve forked out several hundreds or thousands of pounds on a magnificent holiday somewhere, it’s nice to be able to do what you want to do. You might have a carefully and lovingly constructed itinerary (by you or the company organising the trip), but at some point, you might just want to pack your bags and bugger off in a completely different direction. Have a bit of ‘you time’. Solo travel allows such freedom.
If you’re with your friends, this is technically doable but it isn’t easy. You probably travelled there together, are sharing certain costs, have some kind of system that means you’re always going to either owe or be owed drinks/money/back-rubs. If you’re on a solo group tour with strangers, you simply scribble down your email address, say ‘lovely to meet you’ and off you go into the sunset*.
*sunset not compulsory
3. It’s can be trickier to organise
Factors involved in planning a holiday: cost, location, activities, accommodation, dates. All crucial, all massively variable, and all ripe for disagreement if you are trying to get a set group of people to agree. It’s a minefield of awkwardness and compromise, particularly when you’re in your 30s and 40s.
Some people have partners or kids (or dogs), people have differing amounts of disposable income and free time, people have different places they want to tick off the bucket list and different things they want to do when they get there, some people are happy to share a room with a friend and some aren’t happy unless they’re sharing with nobody but a hot tub and a hotline to room service. Not only that, but people know they’re minds more, which is a polite way of saying they’re more stubborn.
Obviously, a holiday with friends is worth compromise, but then a holiday without compromise – one where you do what you want with like-minded strangers – is worth leaving your friends behind. They’ll understand, because that’s what friends are for.
4. Isn’t it time to shake it up?
As a group, you and your friends have already tried loads of stuff. You’ve already decided what you all like, what some of you like and what none of you likes. You’ve reached a set of compromises that will suit you just fine for the years to come, thank you very much. All of which is grand and easy and hassle-free – ideal for some holidays.
But all of which also means you won’t try anything new when you travel with your friends. Holidays can become repetitive, so why would you want that every time you travel? I appreciate that some people like that level of security, but then some people eat the same sandwich for lunch every day.
5. You don’t get to use your old jokes and stories
Years spent building up an arsenal of Grade A anecdotes and gags should not be years wasted. Sadly, your friends will have heard every single one of them, several times. In fact, they’re probably in most of them. So, unless they have severe memory issues, they’ll be weary of your schtick.
Travelling with strangers will give you a brand new audience, like a stand-up comedian stumbling upon an undiscovered Amazonian tribe (who happen to speak the same language), or someone discovering a genius old sitcom like 30 Rock in 2019. (Yes, that’s a very specific example, but it happened to me and it changed my life.) You will be seen as fresh – and when was the last time someone said that about you?
Read more: Why don’t men like travelling alone?
6. You’re more likely to bicker
Lastly, the one we don’t really want to admit. Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt, it also breeds confidence: the confidence to say exactly what you think as soon as you think it. Now sometimes that can be a good thing – but, if you’re travelling with strangers, you’re, hopefully, more likely to bite your lip, count to 10 and take a deep breath (simultaneously or consecutively, it’s up to you).
With friends, there is no need to be polite, to censor your opinion: over the years, the veneer of social etiquette is more a microscopic membrane so delicate it can be punctured by a gnat’s sneeze. While this honesty can be useful when travelling, saving a lot of time, that time can be soured, irksome, because your fuse is so short as to be practically inverted, leading to the kind of bickering you thought was reserved for octagenarian couples who have had one too many trips to Bognor together.