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Live now – dream later stays online but isn't updating anymore. Saana currently works as the editor-in-chief and writes exclusively for responsible travel media Valpas at

Alone, together or together alone?

Writing a bilingual blog can sometimes be painfully time consuming, but also extremely rewarding and instructive. Every now and then I notice some interesting differences how the travel habits and interests vary between Finnish people and other nationalities.

Some time ago I started to think about all of you. Yes, you as well! No matter how fun or interesting it is for me to follow how the number of unique visitors is climbing up, there is still something that statistics can’t tell me. Who are you guys? What are you like? I can see some detailed numbers, for example which countries my readers come from, but those are only numbers. Numbers don’t have personalities.

Questionnaire for the readers of my travel blog - Hello there, who are you guys?

To learn a bit more about my readers, meaning you guys, a couple of weeks ago I made a little questionnaire. It’s still open for answers, so if you haven’t yet done so, go and answer six extremely simple questions. It will take like a minute, if even that.

Of course I made the same questionnaire for my Finnish readers, and when I was glancing through the answers, I noticed something fairly interesting between the travel habits of Finns and other nationalities.

Who do you rather travel with?

My travelling companions have been varying a lot over the years. I’ve been travelling with my mum, with my brother, with girlfriends, boyfriends and even in a bigger group with lots of friends. Last summer I made my first ‘official’ solo trip to Belgium.

When reading international travel blogs I often stumble upon solo travelers, who are surprisingly often young women. These solo travelers tend to hype the positives of travelling alone. When travelling solo, you have all the rights to choose where to go, how to get there and what to do, see, eat and experience during the trip. Sometimes it makes me wonder what kind of travel companion they’ve had before if they had felt so chained when travelling with someone else.

Travelling to Gran Canaria in the Canary Island together with a dear friend.
Playing with camera’s self timer is so much more fun with a friend than alone. In the Canary Islands in 2010, one of the best trips I’ve ever made. With a friend.

Having a night swim in a hotel pool in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands together with a dear friend.

Having a party in the bars of Gran Canaria when travelling together with a dear friend.

I included this in my questionnaire, as I wanted to know who you guys rather travel with. Based on the answers I have received this far, the difference between the Finnish and ‘international’ answers is quite interesting: Finns prefer travelling with their spouse or partner, girlfriend or boyfriend, when other nationalities seem to love travelling solo.

Are you one of them who love travelling alone? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, as I can’t help wondering what is the reason for this difference. Could it be that us Finns, who are often classified as a shy and quiet nation, rather travel with someone we already know to make sure we don’t need to talk to strangers during our trip?

I doubt that. Sometimes I find these stereotypical jokes about Finnish people more irritating than funny, mostly because they hardly ever match my nature. Some of them are true, I admit that, but based on my personal experiences Finland is not the only country where people rather take a seat in a bus on an empty row and pretend to sleep if someone puts their bottoms on the seat next to theirs.

Alone or with a friend?

I could tell so many stories about my travel companion. I’ve made so many amazing trips with so many amazing people, that I have to leave it for another day. If I had to choose one trip that is worse than the others, I would have to say it was my solo trip to Belgium.

There’s nothing wrong with Belgium, exactly the opposite. I loved the country and the cities I visited. But I hated travelling alone. I enjoy it when I can share the new experiences with a friend, no matter whether it’s a girlfriend or a boyfriend or even both.

Bruges in Belgium is one of the most romantic cities I have ever visited. I hated to go there alone.
Bruges is one of the most beautiful, and definitely one of the most romantic cities I’ve ever visited. I would have wanted to share it with someone.

Bruges in Belgium is a beautiful summer destination. I would prefer travelling there with a friend rather than alone.

I have never felt that any of my travel partners would have tied me at any way. I have never had the problem that I didn’t get to see or do whatever I like. Travelling with a friend doesn’t mean you have to spend every single minute together.

There was one similarity among every nationality answering the question who you rather travel with: travelling with a bigger group is the least popular option. This far, considering all the votes on English and Finnish questionnaires, travelling with a bigger group has been chosen once. Only once.

When I started writing this post I had a clear vision how I would concentrate on pondering the pros and cons of travelling solo. A few sentences ago my vision suddenly changed.

I suppose this is what they call as a stream of consciousness. My new aspect on this post is:

The more the merrier!

Brazil, 2010.
Two wonderful and unforgettable weeks with seven wonderful friends.

Dominican Republic, 2011.
Two wonderful and unforgettable weeks with seven wonderful friends.

It’s time to get rid of the bad reputation of travelling with a group and show some proof that an old saying ‘the more the merrier’ really is true. There are surprisingly many pros and amazingly few cons of travelling with a group of friends. Surprise, surprise, travelling in a group is not only for old people! Although it would be kind of funny to see a group of grannies sitting on the roof of this off-road truck in Brazil with the rollators on the back of the car.

Beach safari in Brazil with a big group of friends.

When travelling with a group there are at least as many ideas and perspectives as there are travelers. And as stated, you don’t need to spend every single second together in a group. If three of you want to try rafting and the other three want to go diving, the two lazy bones can go snorkeling together or just lie on the beach and get tanned while others are being active. Just kidding, snorkeling is fun. And there’s nothing wrong with being lazy on the beach either. I would do it right now if I could.

One option is to go for a banana boat ride. That would be pretty boring to do alone.

Banana boat ride in Dominican Republic together with a group of friends.

During these group trips we’ve played so many games of cards, Yatzy and a funny game that has something to do with beans. Chilling out by playing cards in a beach bar with a fruity cocktail is pretty nice, but fairly boring alone, or even with one friend only.

How about volleyball, frisbee or beach football then? Sooooo much more fun with lots of friends!

beach volley brazil

Playing football on the beach on a holiday in Brazil together with dear friends.

All the best memories haven’t been captured with a camera. I remember how in Brazil we were wading in the sea, in the middle of the night, struggling through huge waves that were higher than us. All eight travelers were walking in a row, holding hands, and the only rule was to shout out loud if anyone loses their grip.

Or when in Dominican Republic we made breakfast together in the hotel room every single morning. We cooked the bacon, the eggs, the beans and the toast and opened a bottle of wine, had a tasty group breakfast on a terrace when the sun was shining. I also remember when I had an awful wisdom tooth pain in Brazil that lasted for several days. It was aching so badly, that I couldn’t eat or even brush my teeth properly. Luckily I was able to enjoy my Cachaça with a straw. I couldn’t even speak clearly, so my lovely friends gave me a nick name, beaver. Oh, those golden memories.

Having beers in a bar in Dominican Republic together with a group of friends.

Friends travelling to Brazil together and having a group picture by the hotel pool.

Travelling with an amazing group of amazing friends is amazingly fun. And when you have many friends with you, for sure there is help available whenever you need it the most. For example, if you are swimming in a pool and you are about to get dehydrated! You never know.

When it sunny in the Caribbean there is a risk of dehydrating, even in a pool.
The hero of all the thirsty travellers!

So, how about you? Do you rather travel alone, together or together but spend some time alone? Have you ever made any kind of trip with a larger group? For myself one short solo trip was enough to learn I don’t enjoy travelling alone. And going through old photographs was enough to remind me how much I enjoyed travelling with lots of friends.

Perhaps you’d also like to read how wonderful it is when everything goes well and contact won’t be lost.

Or maybe you’d prefer this post about our round trip in Europe, when we traveled to Italy, Germany and Poland – just for friends!

Hey, did you know that Live now – dream later is also on Facebook! By following you’ll receive all my travel tips and stories also when there are no new posts on the blog.  Once we started, why not to follow also on Twitter and Instagram, where you can find me as @saanajaakkola.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I am all about travelling with others… all the time… friends or family. I have done the alone thing when living overseas but was always happier once I made friends. I like to share the experiences with others after the fact and this is hard to do when you are alone travelling!

    1. So you’re the same as me what comes to travelling! 🙂 I excluded the times I moved abroad, that I did alone, but obviously made friends very quickly. Sharing really doubles the fun! When I look back to the trip to Belgium, which I made when living in Germany, the first thought that comes to my mind is “oh, I wish I had someone to share it with”. Thanks to couchsurfing I met some great people during this short trip as well, but the time we spent together was fairly short, as they had their own plans and I had mine.

  2. I haven’t traveled much alone yet..but I think I will love it. I’ve never gone traveling with a group- the most people I’ve ever traveled with is my partner and then another friend..and after a couple weeks it was kind of annoying trying to make plans when we all wanted to do something different! haha. I’m currently planning a solo trip for later this summer to India.

    1. Thanks for your comment, this is interesting! 🙂 You said you haven’t traveled much alone yet, but have you done some solo travelling already? And why do you think you will love it? Is it down to the fact that you can then do whatever you want, or are there some other reasons as well? Trip to India sounds amazing, though.

      Travelling in a group of 3 could be complicated, exactly how you said: everyone wanted to do something different. In a big group the fun part is that when you want to do something, no matter how extreme it is, it’s quite likely that at least one of the 8 people would be up for it. And then the rest can do whatever they want! 🙂

Make me happy; let's get chatty! :)

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