I love solo travel. It’s my preferred style of vagabonding. That said, I also love traveling with my family, friends, and boyfriend from time to time. Not only is it fun but it also helps me strengthen my bond with the most important people in my life. Here’s how jet-setting improves each relationship.
Hiking in Sedona, Arizona, with my dad. (Photo: Jessica Festa/Jessie on a Journey)
1. Your parents and siblings
I find it a bit sad that people often stop traveling with their parents and siblings as they get older. I’ll admit that the two-week cruises and road trips I used to embark on with my mom and dad don’t happen anymore, but I still go on journeys with them. I went to Arizona with my dad this year, following a trip to Turkey and Greece together last year. Traveling with my parents allows us to create memorable experiences, which are especially important now that we don’t live together anymore.
One really awesome moment on my Arizona trip was getting to do a hike with my dad. I’m an avid hiker, to the point that I think my love of travel may have grown out of my love of hiking and landscapes. However, my father is over 70 years old, and traversing rocky terrain and steep descents isn’t really his forte anymore. That’s why I was surprised when I mentioned I was going to hike up Shadow Mountain in Phoenix — and he said he’d like to come along. When we got there, my dad didn’t make it to the top of the mountain, but he did trek as far as he could go — about half of the trail. I was very proud of him and excited we got to share that experience.
Exploring El Peñón de Guatapé in Colombia with friends. (Photo: Jessica Festa/Jessie on a Journey)
2. Your home friends
Chances are, you’ve traveled with a couple of really terrible travel partners, perhaps more. I certainly have. But I’ve also had some really great trips traveling with others. Most recently, I took a trip to Colombia with my friends, and it made me realize just how wonderful it is to hit the road with friends.
Travel is usually something I share with myself, which can be a bit lonely at times. It’s one thing to tell your friends about a wild skydive in New Zealand, a crazy bus trip through Peru, or a delicious dish you made in Japan. But it’s a whole separate thing to actually share that experience with them. Not only do you get to share inside jokes from the road when you’re back home, but you also get to know your friends in a different light.
I live in New York City, and I spend most of my friend time here drinking and dancing in bars. But travel is a great way to get to know your friends beyond that. You get to live in close quarters, see how other people react to different situations, and make discoveries about each other, both good and bad. The verdict? I feel closer to my Colombia trip friends now than ever before, and would 100 percent travel with them again in a heartbeat.
3. Your travel friends
Aside from traveling with your home friends, it’s also fun to travel with your travel friends — i.e., the ones you meet on the road. I love making friends on the road, and there are many that I’ve met on tours, in hostels, in money exchanges, and on buses and trains five-plus years ago that I’m still close with today.
Take Dan, for example. I met him in a hostel in Munich six years ago, and to this day I see him at least once a year when he visits NYC. I even met his parents and sister when they came; we all went out for dinner and karaoke. Even though we don’t see each other a lot, we talk on Skype and social media, sharing life’s ups and downs and talking about travel. I consider him a great friend — one who will be in my life forever.
4. Your significant other
Like traveling with friends, going on trips with your boyfriend or girlfriend can go terribly wrong or be unbelievably great. The main reason? It helps you learn about each other very quickly. Sometimes this can be fun. If he leaves the toilet seat up and you leave your hair in the drain, for instance, then you can laugh about these habits together, over local food and beer. But at other times, the getting-to-know-you process can come too quickly, at which point you may realize the relationship isn’t meant to be.
Strengthening my relationship with my boyfriend through travel. (Photo: Jessica Festa/Jessie on a Journey)
My current boyfriend, Chris, and I traveled together on our second date. Yes, you read that right: second date. While some may think that we advanced too quickly, I had zero issue asking Chris to go away to Lake Placid for the weekend. Though it’s located about eight hours from Brooklyn, where we live, I feel it was no different than asking him to coffee. Why? Travel is my life. My thinking was that if he wanted to be a part of it, he would have to understand that fact. And he did. Instead of acting like I was proposing marriage, he agreed to go away for the weekend, looking at it as a fun, carefree jaunt with a woman he was interested in.
After our getting-to-know-you trip to Lake Placid, Chris and I are still going strong! (Photo: Jessica Festa/Jessie on a Journey)
We learned a lot about each other in just three days and shared many experiences most new couples don’t have right away. We summited a high peak, savored a gourmet chef’s table dinner, and peed on the side of a highway (hey, it was a long way to the next rest stop!). By the end of the weekend, I knew I wanted to keep him around for a while based on the amount of laughter we shared. Now it’s been over a year, and we’re still together. We’ve since traveled to Guatemala and California together, and we have more shared trips to come!
I will leave you with this: Many people associate travel with ruined relationships. But you don’t need to be scared about losing your relationships because you’re going traveling. Just bring your people along! You’ll quickly learn that travel doesn’t necessarily ruin relationships; rather, it has the potential to strengthen them instead.
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