Living in the moment is damn-near impossible. At some point, while growing up, we all forgot how to enjoy the moment we’re in. We start looking forward to the future, start imagining all the ‘what-if’s and ‘what will be’s, and forget to enjoy what we’re doing.
Do you play a sport? Instrument? Video game? Do you cook? Do you have a pet, like a dog or cat, that you enjoy cuddling? These are just some of the easiest examples of living in the moment. Time where nothing else matters outside of what is happening in that very second—not the future, or the past.
Before traveling, it can seem like every moment abroad will be like that. Every moment will be doused in color and life, imprinting itself on your mind forever.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In my experience, it’s rarely the case. Traveling is a long series of micro-decisions. Are you hungry? Do your feet hurt? What time does the bus arrive? Should we go left or right? Answering these one way can make you end up in front of the Eiffel Tower, or waffling between two restaurants that both sell falafel. Because of all these little decisions, desperate trying to think a move ahead, you might not always remember where you ate, or what you saw, but sometimes, you will remember standing in a Subway and watching your travel partner play peek-a-boo with a kid who just couldn’t look away.
When Darcy and I travel, we tend to plan out the next month, or at the very least, the next two weeks. Flights, lodging, busses, trains, etc. Everything is done at least two weeks in advance. Of course, this means nothing once we actually hit the road. One missed bus, or train, and the plan falls apart, we find ourselves taking a train to an airport an hour after our flight left, and we regret leaving home in the first place. So we begin to adapt. Take in new information and create new decisions, again and again, with no chance for ‘living in the moment.’ Or so it seems. But these are the perfect chances to live in the moment. There are moments in these hectic dashes through airports and countries, moments where we can pause and ask ourselves, “Where am I?”
If you can capture those moments, and enjoy them as they happen, without thought for what came before or what will come after, you will never regret your decision to leave home.
For the last 4-5 years, Darcy and I have been traveling together.
Before this, I spent a few years traveling solo. I thought this section could
be important to anyone who was going to bring a Significant Other, a friend, or
a kid/parent. By and large, most people tend to travel alone, and pick up
partners along the way if they’re going to the same place.
It’s my own personal philosophy that everyone should take at least one trip by themselves. There are few ways easier to see your flaws so clearly than traveling alone. On my solo trips, I learned mountains of information about what my limits are, what my fears are, and how I respond to different problems under different stresses.
With a partner, you can mitigate some of these problems by
splitting the load. But with one person, it’s on you. Waking up at 3am,
catching a 4am flight, not arriving until the same time the next day, trying to
find your hotel on 3 hours of airplane sleep. It’s difficult, but once you do
it, you’ll think, ‘Now I can do anything.’
Whether or not you’ve been traveling before, you have
probably heard someone run down the list of why traveling alone is great.
Amazing. So much better than bringing anyone.
Meet more people
This one has some merit to it. I’ve heard that people are more likely to
approach you when you’re by yourself. However, I find it the opposite. I find that
I’m trusted more traveling with Darcy (whether it’s because she’s a woman, or
there are two of us, I don’t know.) However, when I traveled alone, I was more
outgoing, intent on meeting people and making the most of the experience. With
Darcy I find myself less outgoing, and less earnest to make new friends.
Go where you want, when you want
Sure, this one is true. But Darcy and I have never run into the problem
of wanting to go to two places at the same time. I’ve already talked about how
we decide where to go in the section ‘Deciding Where to Go.’
In my experience, this is categorically untrue.
Have a more unique experience
How can an experience be more unique?
Although I think everyone should take at least one trip
alone, I do think that traveling solo is lonely. Especially if you’re an
outgoing person, you might find solo travel to be especially depressing. I’ve
known a handful of people who end up coming home after a few weeks, telling me
they just couldn’t handle it.
And this is okay. Some people are incredibly well adjusted
to traveling alone, and they end up quitting their job and traveling solo full
time, hopping from place to place. This
isn’t everyone. If you find yourself floundering on your first solo trip,
don’t panic. You aren’t alone. You can always go home.
And when you set out again, you might want to go with
Strange thing to stat with, I know. But we had more fights, or arguments,
in that first month of traveling than a year and a half of living together back
home. When you’re traveling with someone, and both stretched to your limits,
fights happen easily, and they happen fast. But you learn. Not just about the
other person, but about yourself. What sets you off. Behavior you have that
went unnoticed by you. How you act when you’re tired, or hungry, or are faced
with the prospect of having to sleep outside. And you work through it. I will
say, after that first month, the arguments became rare, and easier to manage
because we had already been through so much together.
Traveling with a partner is cheaper. Not half as cheap as by yourself,
but pretty close. A hotel room for $70 a night is now the cheaper alternative
to a $50 a night hostel bed. Even eating. When traveling alone, I always bought
bread and cheese as a staple. And by day two, the bread would be hard and the
cheese sweaty. But when there’s someone else to eat, we buy food more often,
and therefore its fresher. Flights are sometimes cheaper when you purchase two
at a time, instead of one. Rental cars are far cheaper split between two
people. I used to spend nearly $750 a month while traveling. Now I average
around $450. So, not quite half, but pretty close!
With two people, once person can always be on watch. Whether it be taking
turns sleeping on a long train, or using the bathroom in a dodgy bar, or even
at airports when you want to walk around, you’ll always have someone to watch
over the bags, and vice versa.
Surprisingly, it’s far less stressful to travel with a partner. Not only
are there two pairs of eyes looking over every reservation and ticket, there
are now two people looking for those reservations and tickets. When traveling
alone, it’s easy to make mistakes and not catch them until too late. I can’t
count the number of times I boarded the wrong train, or bought a ticket for the
wrong date, or went to the ‘Hotel Sacre Coeur’ and not ‘Hotel de Sacre Coeur.’
Having someone else can reduce the stress simply by having the person there,
and knowing the chance for mistake can be mitigated by them.
Sharing the experience
This is probably the biggest reason to travel with someone, even for a
short time. I can’t remember all the amazing experiences I had while traveling
alone, primarily because there was no one lese there to experience them with
I found that when I returned home the first time from traveling, at the
ripe old age of 18, that most people didn’t care, or didn’t understand what I
experienced. And that’s what I realize every time I go back to where I used to
live. The only people who understand the rush of seeing the spice markets of
some North African medina for the first time are the people who have been
there. The only people who understand the stillness you feel when seeing a
sunset over a foreign ocean, are the ones who felt that same stillness.
It’s not gatekeeping, saying if you haven’t traveled, than you wouldn’t
know. But if you haven’t traveled, it’s difficult to listen to someone who has
talked about their travels. And, subsequently, the person who traveled (you, in
this case) feels disillusioned by the whole thing.
you travel with someone, you can share all experiences with them.
I won’t say one way is better than another, flat out.
However, I have found that I enjoy traveling far more with a partner than I do
by myself. Now, I can stop and have a coffee or a drink in a dingy Parisian
bar, and I know there was someone there to enjoy it with me.
So if you can, take someone. Don’t just go alone.
But if you’re the type of person who appreciates being by yourself, then dive in headfirst!
If you enjoyed this, follow me! I’ll be posting a different post on traveling when I can