travel

“No, really, we aren’t together.” I travelled overseas with a guy friend. It got complicated.

When you’re single and in your 30s, things get a little trickier in terms of travel. You want to keep exploring the world, but you’ve got a much more limited pool of people to do it with. 

Your parents are getting older and might be a little less up for a trip. Your friends might be coupled-up or with babies, or can’t take the time off work. And you might just be over travelling alone. It was something you tried when you were younger, and you’re ready to leave that solo time behind. 

That was certainly was the case for me recently. I was planning a work trip to New Zealand’s South Island (I’m a travel writer) and was allowed to bring a plus-one, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with. My dad and brother weren’t available. None of my girlfriends could take off work. And I was done going it alone.

Going away? On the You Beauty podcast, we share the products that’ll save your hair while you’re travelling. Post continues below.

So I considered taking a guy friend. Tyler and I had met at uni in Miami 15 years ago, and, after both moving to Sydney – him seven years ago and me a decade ago – had grown incredibly close. 

But how would being around each other 24/7 in situations typically only reserved for loved ones change our dynamic? Would travelling with a guy be any different to travelling with anyone else? And would our friendship be able to withstand that pretty hectic test? I was ready to find out. 

If you’ve ever considered travelling with a dude who’s not your partner, here’s what went down so you can know what to expect.

You’ll feel the need to explain yourself… constantly.

“We’re just friends,” I told the flight attendant. Tyler and I had both wanted unobstructed views of Queenstown’s epic scenery so had taken window seats on the plane at either end of an empty row. The attendant had asked if we wanted to sit together.

Of course she thought she’d be doing us a favour. And I could’ve left it at a simple “no”, but for some reason I couldn’t shake off the need to explain myself.

“No, really, we aren’t together,” I stressed. It happened again and again. All throughout the trip, I felt I had to clarify the situation. Though, with every place we stayed offering only one bed (and most of them honeymoon-worthy), I doubt anyone believed me.

Tyler and I
Tyler and I. Image: Supplied.
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But I tried anyway. To nearly every person we met. And even those back home – with an Instagram caption. Because even when we’d booked the trip, a surprising amount of friends had asked me “are you sure you two aren’t dating?” Which, to their defence, was a valid question – we are both single.

You’ll have no choice but to embrace the intimacy.

Then came the behind-closed-doors situations with Tyler. The actual sharing of the bed. The sharing of the bathroom. The sharing of morning grumpiness and every other time throughout the day either of us weren’t feeling our best. 

Again, all things you share with a loved one – not typically with a guy friend.

Surprisingly, the bed-sharing – sometimes in beds as small as a double – wasn’t that awkward. We slept on opposite ends; Tyler snored a little and heard my loud teeth grinding, but apart from that, it didn’t feel weird. Plus, we barely talked about it, which also helped not to make it a big deal. 

supplied
"You'll have no choice but to embrace the intimacy." Image: Supplied.
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The bathroom situation was a little more awkward. If Tyler didn’t want me to use it straight after him, he’d say so and make a joke of it. And thankfully, I didn’t ever have to really use it… in our hotel rooms anyway. (You can read between the lines here).  

And as for the intimacy of seeing each other at all hours of the day? When we were cranky or annoyed, or being kind of a downer? We were forced to talk about it. In the normal day-to-day back home, we could hide our bad moods until we separated, but on the trip we were forced to talk about it and acknowledge the tension.

One big disagreement we had was timeliness. Ever since I missed a flight last year and had to pay for a new ticket and miss a day of my holiday, I’ve been a stickler for being on time. Tyler, I hadn’t realised, was not.

But being open about how we both were feeling made us better understand each other and strengthened our friendship.

You’ll get to know each other on a whole other level.

Which brings me to my last point of what you can expect when you travel with a guy friend, and that’s that you’ll really get to know each other.

Tyler and I had hours and hours of car time to chat and we talked about everything under the sun – from family and relationships to work and our ambitions. Although I never considered our friendship to be superficial, the trip solidified our bond. 

Since travelling alone and with friends all of last year, I’ve stood by the idea that you can learn so much more about yourself travelling with others than by travelling alone.

The other person serves as a mirror, forcing you to see yourself in a way you might not have before. 

Would I recommend travelling with a male friend in particular? I’d say be open to it. It’s not for everyone. If you’re in a relationship (or the guy friend is), or if either of you have feelings for each other or may have even dated in the past  – then it might not be the best situation to put yourself in.

As I said, the intimacy is unavoidable. 

Have you travelled with just a (platonic) male friend? Let us know in the comments.

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