What’s The Best Number Of People To Travel With?

March 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

(This was an article I wrote  for the X-Trekkers Facebook Page)

I walked back into the hostel weary and weak. I felt like a defeated man. After letting my backpack collapse to the floor, I too followed suit onto the bed. But this wasn’t physical exhaustion. Psychologically I was drained. What turned out to be a potentially hyped-up trip to Ha Long Bay with five of my fellow volunteers turned out to be a nightmare.

Sure, we got the deal at a bargain. But the trip was full of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Some of us were unhappy with the overly-choreographed nature of the trip, and partly blamed the person who got the tickets to the tour. I was unhappy with the dubious nature of the hotel we stayed at, where the receptionist, waiter, and bell-boy were the same person. We didn’t get our kayaking trip on the boat, and the Danish girls harangued the poor Vietnamese boatman about it too. That’s what you get for trying too hard to save money for a trip.

Some of us wanted to dine at western styled restaurants, after having days and days of rice. Others thought it was ridiculous to come all the way to Vietnam to order pizza.

Although its all water under the bridge now, our trip to one of Vietnam’s famed breathtaking UNESCO world heritage sites left some us with a bitter taste about traveling in large groups. What, then, is the best number of people to travel with?

Travelling With Many People

While the above description sounds like a nightmare, this need not necessarily be the case. The biggest mistake I made is not realizing each of us had different expectations and values when it comes to travelling. One cannot expect everyone to be the rough-it-out and sleep-in-sleeping-bags kind of traveller. Some of us are business-traveller types: we want to be lavished and enjoy in style when we travel. Perfectly fine. It is experiences like these that teach you what kinds of people you get along well with, and others you might need to put in a lot of effort to do so.

Travel with a group of friends can be especially meaningful for the shared experience. Its saves you a ton when you get to share costs. Here are a few guidelines on choosing travel partners:

1. Make certain you share similar goals and ideas about how you want to travel

2. Avoid people that don’t fit your preferred travel style

3. Choose people you have travelling experience with to go on longer trips

Traveling Alone

Solo travel isn’t very common amongst Asians, but it isn’t uncommon to find American, Canadian and European travellers roughing it alone in the various corners of the world. Travelling alone can be daunting: you call the shots on every decision you make. In countries whose people speak languages unfamiliar to you, you might feel intimidated and lonely.

But these things seem minor in the face of the ammazing benefits of traveling alone. Who said that travelling alone means you’ve got no one to talk to? In your search for basic directions, travel information, and good food, solo travel forces you out of your comfort zone to strike up a conversation with the locals. Often they will regal you with smilies, curiosity, and sometimes even authentic hospitality. I’ve received invitations for dog meat, duck’s blood, and rice wine in Hanoi through friendly conversations with locals on bus rides.

The flip side of responsibility for making decisions can also mean complete independence and freedom for how your travels turn out. This might probably be the most important reason why some travellers choose to go alone.

Irregardless of your choice of solo or group travel, realize that the decision need not be your strict travel mantra. Seize the opportunity for both group and solo travel when the opportunity presents itself. You will then find benefits of experiencing both.

“Avoid compulsive whiners, chronic pessimists, mindless bleeding hearts, and self-conscious hipsters, since these kinds of people have a way of turning travel into a tiresome farce.”
-Rolf Potts


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