It finally struck me in Turkey, how valuable traveling with someone is.
The first time I backpacked, I was alone as I trekked around Europe for 5 weeks. It was an awesome adventure. Traveling alone allows you freedom and independence. You have absolutely no one to answer to. Go where you want, when you want. Like a city? Stay a while! You also have heaps of time to sit and process what you’re seeing and experiencing. Read a book, people watch, wander aimlessly for hours. Being a solo traveler is amazing, but you don’t really get to share the experience with anyone. There’s a lot of alone time that you’d rather not sit and people watch, you’d rather be the people others are watching.
The fact that there’s always going to be that companion, that person who is the, “if we’re lost, at least we’re lost together” person, THAT makes traveling with someone else worth it. There will always be someone to take that photo of you in front of that statue you’re pretty sure is famous for something. There’s someone to double check the map before you set out in the completely wrong direction. Someone to complain to when your bag is too heavy and you’re tired of walking. Someone to watch your back when a shady stranger approaches. And someone who will sit with you at a restaurant so you don’t have to be awkwardly alone, pitied by strangers.
Having a travel companion is about sharing. Not just the experience and the costs (which is a MAJOR plus, sharing taxis, grocery bills…. man that’s awesome!), but even the little things. Sharing a hairdryer and straightener (for the days you’re feeling more vain), sharing a first aid kit (although some people, ahem, Noel, used it more than others – what an accident prone woman!), sharing a computer, and even sometimes sharing a twin size bed for a week. Good thing neither of us are snorers, or kickers.
There are some things that you seem to share even when you’re angry, or annoyed. Tic-tacs and gum are an obvious share, but also hand sanitizer before a meal. Roll my eyes all I want and be as irritated as I might be, I’ll still share my tissues when you’re in the loo next door with no toilet paper.
And of course the best thing to share is blame. Like that one time in Malaysia when we both paid to go into the loo and were the only ones in or out for awhile. I’m not going to say who it was, but one of us made a duty, did a number 2, pooed… whatever you want to call it, it just would not flush. The workers, who were outside waiting for us to finish before they went in to clean, had no one to pin it on. As much as they may have wanted, they wouldn’t have been able to put a face to that specimen. And that’s what a travel companion is really for. Thanks, Noel, er, uh, I mean…. you’re welcome.