With a significant proportion of you currently being in a ‘dry spell’ (as highlighted by Felix’s excellent sex survey) this article is probably irrelevant to a lot of you. But I urge those it concerns to take some of the key points on board before hopping on the lovey-dovey travelling bandwagon. It takes some serious cojones and a lot of hard work to properly pull it off.
Travelling alone is liberating: you can embrace people and experiences no holds barred and do whatever you want. As soon as you numb yourself with the morphine that is a friendship circle you instantly limit yourself to the route plans that you’ve probably had to compromise, because Gary doesn’t see the point of looking at some dumb old rocks made by some insignificant hill tribe. Well replace your Gary with a Sophie and you’ve got bigger problems.
Travelling together is a bit like moving in, but a lot more intense. I guarantee that in sweltering heat and constantly in each other’s detestable company you’d soon rather be back on the Piccadilly Line, scratching your arse with your copy of the Metro, instead of gazing up at Christ the Redeemer.
Bon voyage to the budget
Oh sure, by shacking up and sharing a room it’ll probably work out marginally cheaper over the course of a long trip. I mean hey, you’re getting a room for two for less than the cost of two separate rooms, right? Well unfortunately that’s where the cost benefits of travelling as a couple end. In fact, the above logic could probably apply to tagging along with a group of fun-loving Mexicans, or just sticking to much more social dorms.
Couples like to do nice things. They like to eat in fancy restaurants, opt in for the air conditioning, take a taxi over the filthy bus, and generally swim in that over-indulgent way of life like they’re better than the rest of us. So much for budget travelling, eh? In spite of the pleas of ‘hey, we can just go for the cheaper option!’ you’ll still find yourself compelled to fork out on the fancy stuff regardless.
And those dastardly looky-looky men that you’ve finally learnt to handle? They suddenly become a lot more ruthless. They see you coming as a couple and treat you like you’re thicker than the fat yank in the baseball cap beside you. Yes, the babbling idiot with the thick Texan accent who gets angry at the slum child for not understanding him as he requests directions, and inadvertently coats the young boy in flecks of spit when he speaks. You’re now on the same level as this guy. The looky-looky men will bleed you dry and make you pay for your monogamy.
The detestable royal “we”
Ah, the royal “we”. It’s an inviting little comfort zone, isn’t it? No need for the repeated trivial conversations with people on bus journeys now, you can just further bow down to being the travelling equivalent of a Fifties housewife. Couples are the most difficult group to interact with on the road – they’re like, totally on another level of understanding of each other’s consciousness: you wouldn’t understand.
Oh sure, you might rock another look: you’re one of those chilled couples who pride themselves on being social with everyone in their path. Congratulations on breaking a tiring cliché, but don’t expect anyone else to avoid the stigma. While you may have overcome the stereotypes, people will still avoid you like the plague. If you travel as a couple, you come as a package. To the people around you this package is a time bomb that they’ll do everything to avoid.
Bickering and bus bathrooms
The following figures are from a real life case study. Young Jimmy spent three weeks on holiday with his girlfriend, took 500 photos, of which about two look worthy of appearing in a holiday brochure. Said two photos took ten seconds to pose for – ten seconds out of 1.8 million seconds spent on holiday. Yet those photos are for some reason always the emphasis.
What the photos fail to capture are the countless bus journeys. You know the ones: the air-conditioning is causing your nipples to shrivel, and Australian Bob has got a woozy tummy and has decided to fill the toilet with the nauseating contents of his bowels. Thanks a bunch, Bob, thanks. Anyway, your photos hopefully never capture this, and if they should you should be more conservative with your memory card.
The point is that the seeming romanticism always generated by those snaps in Halong Bay are really not so glamorous: the couple are probably mid-argument, following a rather uncomfortable bus journey surrounded by Australian nutters. They say it’s all about the journey, but journeys of this sort can really detract from the passion and bliss that you’d come to expect. It’s much easier to have no expectations, no standards and nobody else to please.
In the wise words of LCD Soundsystem “it’s time to get away, it’s time to get away from you”. Keep your travelling options limitless.
And if you’re heading to South-east Asia, there’ll be plenty of ladyboys at your disposal anyway – if you’re lucky you might even bag yourself a free STI!