With your partner, a friend, with kids - or just on your own... Who should you hit the road with?
It is often said that the best way to travel is alone. But what if you’ve got family ties, or you just fancy some company on your career break? After all, a problem shared is a problem halved, and the wonder of travel can be doubled when you share it. Whoever you choose as your travel buddy, heed this hard-won advice before you take the plunge...
Travel with a partner
Most career-breakers take time off with their partners, and find it an enriching, fulfilling chapter in their relationship. But before you head off a deux
, there are a few issues to consider: is your relationship strong enough?
Newly wed and planning a big honeymoon? Check out Unique Honeymoons for ideas and inspiration, including romantic itineraries and couple-friendly trips that you'll both enjoy.
Travel can be the ultimate test – and, both at home and abroad, money can be a contentious issue. To ensure your relationship is more profit than loss, discuss your budget limitations before you even start planning. It is sometimes better to have a joint account for everyday expenses (accommodation, transport, meals, etc) but individual ones for personal use. Set the boundaries, and stick to them.
As uncomfortable as it is to consider, think about what would happen if your relationship broke down on the road (it's wise to set aside some personal funds in case you want to get home quickly).
Most importantly, talk to each other! Communication is key while travelling, just as it is in everyday life, so let your other half know how you're feeling – good and bad.
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Travel with a friend
As with relationships, travelling can make or break a friendship. Choose your pal wisely: it's all-too-easy to get swept up in a 'We should totally do this' moment – only to despair once you realise your travelling tastes aren't compatible.
Be firm: decide, on your own time, what you want from the trip. If your travel buddy's plans match up, you could be onto a winning combination – but if you want different things, it's probably best to part ways now.
But just because you're not compatible for travelling together all the way, that doesn't mean you can't meet up on the road. It can be reassuring to know you'll be meeting up with a familiar face while you're away, so plan things you'll both enjoy – before going solo once again.
To help you make the decision... 5 tips for travelling with a friend
Should you travel with a friend?
Travel with your children
Career breaking en famille is both rewarding and challenging (though not necessarily in that order).
Pre-school children are fairly easy to uproot and whisk away. You don’t have to worry about formal education but you do need to consider the health and safety risks of certain parts of the world (eg. malarial areas, regions of civil unrest).
Once the young ones are nearing five years old, they’ll need some proper education. You’ve basically got three options: a local school (tricky to organise outside Europe); an international school (expensive); or educate them yourself. For information on schools abroad contact the UK embassy of the relevant country, the Council of International Schools
or International Schools Ltd
The most popular option is teaching your child a thing or two yourself because you can do this any time, any place, anywhere. Education Otherwise
and the Home Education Advisory Service
are two excellent places to start your research.
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Travel on your own
Solo travel can be endlessly rewarding – but it can also be lonely.
The pros? You'll be forced to meet people you may never have engaged with, and you'll be a 'free spirit' wherever you go. Fancy a change of itinerary? You're the boss. Everything from breakfast to budgeting is down to you – and you'll have free reign to make as many (or few) friends as you fancy along the way. You can indulge every travel fantasy you've ever had, without worrying that your ideas are boring your travel buddy. And you'll grow: in both confidence and experiences, as you've had to rely on your wits while away.
The cons? It can be safer to travel with a companion, although solo travellers will probably find they're more cautious and self-aware. There's not always someone to watch your back – or take photos of you, hold your bag, or run to the chemist when you need it most. The friends you meet along the way will likely head off on their own itineraries, and if you're not in the right frame of mind, it can be hard to pull yourself out of homesickness or loneliness.
If you're travelling on your tod but would prefer not to be alone, don't worry: there are plenty of ways to meet people along the way. Ease your anxiety by planning a meet-up or two along the way (see who's going your way on the myWanderlust forum
, or ask after friends-of-friends in exotic places). It can help to sign up to an organised tour, too: you'll meet like-minded people, who may want to buddy-up after the itinerary ends.
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Read our guide to solo travel
Travel in a group
If you're struggling to find someone who's up for sharing your travels, or don't have the desire to go it alone, you might want to sign up to a group trip.
The first tricky part is deciding where to go: virtually every part of the world is covered by tour operators, who host guaranteed-departure itineraries for like-minded travellers.
Start your search on Wanderlust's Trip Finder: here, you can search travel experiences by region, country, tour operator, trip type and activity. There's even a search function which allows you to specify dates, and you can spy which tour operator allows you to use the £50 travel voucher that Wanderlust subscribers receive.
But before you sign up, make sure you're up for the peaks and pitfalls of group travel: yes, you'll have the security of a instant band of travel buddies, and a tried-and-tested itinerary, but you'll also need to be sure you're comfortable in round-the-clock company, and are happy with the rigid itinerary.
To help you make the decision...
Wanderlust Trip Finder | Search for your ultimate trip!
Get paid to travel: become a tour leader | Advice
Wanderlust £50 voucher scheme | Subscribe