It’s the first week of the year and with all the discussions about the year gone by, I can’t not talk about mine! For all the personal & professional ups-and-downs in 2019, nothing can beat the drama and fun that was the trip to Sri Lanka. The thrill of visiting a country renowned for its beauty, the excitement of a first trip with the best friend, followed by the uncertainty and stress of travelling through a land hit under curfew – the week-long trip to Sri Lanka was adventurous to the hilt.
To know why I use ‘drama’ and ‘fun’ together when talking about my Sri Lanka trip, read the post That Week In Sri Lanka.
With memories to last us a lifetime, among the best things that happened to A and me during the trip was the time we got to introspect and bond again, as adults. The trip also had the two of us thinking about the pros and cons of our cumulative travel experiences – as a solo traveller, as a female traveller, travelling as a child with parents, travelling with family or even travelling with children.
A – a mother/wife/daughter/daughter-in-law – felt that travels with family are rewarding while travelling with a friend is liberating! A bit of prodding and A penned her thoughts on ‘Travelling with a Best Friend versus Travelling with family’.
Here’s what A had to say…
“True Friendship comes only when the silence between two people is comfortable.”– Anonymous
When you travel with someone, moments of silence are long and frequent. These moments are a test of the travel companion for this is when one knows how they put up with these silences, the times when you are not ‘good company’.
I will not lie. This was one of the several things on my mind as I started off on the journey of a lifetime with my best friend. I was filled with trepidation – travelling together, spending time in close quarters can make or break a relationship. A billion questions were swirling through my mind through the days we planned, booked, discussed and finally met for the trip.
* What if we came out of the trip hating each other?
* Would the plan cost me my only 3 a.m. friend?
* Would we end up quarrelling and being cold to each other?
I have travelled plenty with my family and with groups of friends, but travelling with just one person creates a vulnerability that is hitherto unknown to the both of you. When you are with a group, you always have the choice to ignore an offending member and do your thing. That choice is eliminated when you travel with one person.
Mother-wife-daughter in law
My family is an adventurous set of people – road trips, trips to lesser explored cities and villages, non-touristy locations – those are normally the agenda of our travels. This mindset makes travelling with family comforting and fun.
For a mother of two, it’s exciting. It gives me indescribable pleasure as I show my children new things, indulge in long conversations, listen to their observations – all this while introducing my babies to a new world.
Travelling with family also means that responsibilities are shared and you can be assured there is someone around to take care of your child, other than you.
This is also the downside to family travel – you can never shrug off responsibility and you are never bothered as self-aware as one should be. For example, my husband being the super organised and practical person among the two of us, I never ever have to think about – details like where we are staying, commuting between locations, money. I am not fully responsible for my travel. While this does make life easy, it does mean you are a dependent traveller.
The comfort zones don’t shift when you travel with family. Family travel is more of a time to strengthen the bonds away from the pressures of daily life. It works wonders and leaves everyone rejuvenated, the kinship in relations renewed – if the travel has been done in the right spirit.
Travelling with your best friend may seem like a brilliant idea but there’s a lot that rides on that trip. Get more insight in the post How to Plan a Trip with your Best Friend.
Friend, woman, child
When it comes to travelling with a friend the risk quotient is high but the rewards are higher! On one hand, you and you alone are wholly responsible for your travel. And then there is the question of personal dynamics. Your first trip with the best friend is as good as getting to know someone for the first time.
For instance, despite our friendship spanning over 16 years, it was during our trip to Sri Lanka that I realised Rapti cannot – absolutely cannot – tolerate hunger. There was an occasion when nervous tears trickled down her cheeks because we had no idea where our next meal was going to be. This was the time we were driving on the national highway in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of a nationwide curfew declared after serial blasts ripped through Colombo earlier in the day.
Rapti, meanwhile, was witness to the extent of my excessive vehemence (I am, admittedly, an extremely opinionated person and can argue to the ends of the Earth sometimes) during conversations where we had conflicting perspectives. Our conversations jump from Indian history to philosophy, movies to books and even mythology.
What did work – thankfully! – was that we had similar hygiene habits. And our idea of ‘budget’ is the same. Trust me when I say your patience begins to wear thin if you are saddled for a week with someone insists on a five-star meal each time when you are content with whatever is on offer. Both Rapti and I have been through it, albeit not with each other.
These aren’t issues that arise when you travel with family – after all, when you live under one roof, these things are common knowledge.
It also works to have complimentary talents. Amongst the two of us, Rapti has travelled more and solo too. My travels have been mostly work-related and vacations have never been solo. So, getting a sense of a place, looking up experiences was more Rapti’s style, while I was more into the general organisation, reading up on the history of what we were visiting et al. This also made life easier when we were planning the trip – right from the booking and planning places to see as also scrutinising accommodations.
All practicalities aside, there is a sublime sense of freedom when you are with a friend. Your conversations, your solitude, your silence, everything contributes to the sense of well-being.
I am sure Rapti realised that there were times when I just needed to look out of the window of the car without saying anything – and she also put up with my crabbiness which came out of me missing the children. On the other hand, I was very surprised at how childlike she is in so many matters – especially of wonderment – and my world weary, tired soul definitely benefited from that.
Our risk paid off and we came back thinking we could definitely travel together again. Most friendships these days are long distance – we’re more friends with the online persona than the person himself or herself. In such a time, a trip together brings you closer to the person without the internet masking your conversations and feelings. But I strongly recommend choosing your travel companion carefully – you might actually come back wondering how you ever were friends with someone.
To be honest, there is no ‘winner’ when it comes to choosing between travelling with your best friend and family. You can’t! You learn from both experiences, you are enriched. But the former does get in an edge because it’s only with your BFF that you can be the person hidden under the layers of responsibility and cares.“