When it comes to traveling, there are lots of different options on where to go + WHO to go with. Do you venture out solo, go with family, book a tour and/or explore with a friend? Up until this year I had always gone solo or with family. In June that changed when Holly (a friend + roommate) and I decided to stop talking about Europe and make the trip a reality.

As the Thanksgiving week starts, it’s a good time to think about everything you are grateful for. Exploring near or far, from Washington, D.C. to Europe, one of the many things I’m grateful for is having a true friend + travel partner like Holly and the many travel adventures this year has been filled with.


During our trip, Holly and I explored France (Paris), Italy (Rome, Pisa & Florence), Switzerland (Lucerne + Lauterbrunnen + Swiss Alps) and England (London). Read more: Taste of Europe and Contiki Tours.

Make sure you: explore + mingle + indulge + discover

1. {explore} see the sights. get lost. look up. immerse yourself.

  • See the well known iconic spots each city has to offer.
  • Put yourself in the very spot you learned about in history and art history classes. I assure you it is something magical to really be standing there in person, instead of just reading about it.
  • Don’t forget to go explore.
  • Wander down a new path and see what you discover. From colorful streets with surprises around every turn in Rome, Florence and London to exploring the top of the Swiss Alps and hiking up steep steps to the back of a waterfall in Switzerland, we never knew what we’d find. That is what makes it so exciting!
  • Get lost in the beauty around you + appreciate all this world has to offer.
  • Get a new perspective. Don’t just look at what’s in front of you… look up, look down. Get lost in the moment.
  • Be present + live in the moment. Immerse yourself. Travel in general really forces you to get out of your daily routine and if you allow it, break your comfort zone and experience where you are right then.

For all pictures: click on one to bring up a slideshow gallery

2. {mingle} talk to locals. meet new friends. enjoy sleepless nights.

  • No matter if I’m in Africa or Europe, I make sure to ask locals their recommendations on places to eat, off the beaten track places to explore, etc. It makes for a one of a kind adventure.
  • When you are traveling with someone it’s easy to stick together, but leave your comfort zone too. Holly and I made sure to keep an eye on each other and stayed close by, but we also pushed ourselves to mingle with new people.
  • You never know who you’ll meet. Introduce yourself and realize how brave you really are. Discover how easy it is to form new friendships.
  • Do things you normally wouldn’t. From enjoying winter wonderland activities on the Swiss Alps to feeling like a kid again at Warner Bros. Studio Tour, The Making of Harry Potter. From karaoke + dancing all night in Florence to sitting under the lit up Eiffel Tower with new friends + bottles of wine in Paris. No matter where you are, enjoy those magical days and late nights.

Note: Some of our trip was on a Contiki tour (read more), where we formed friendships and would go out as a group. If you are traveling with just a friend be sure to keep an eye on each other/stick together. Safety first!

3. {indulge} try local cuisine. enjoy dessert. splurge.

  • Take advantage of the fact you’re in a new place and try as much as you can.
  • Have wine with lunch. Try local cuisine. Enjoy dessert as much as you want. Although I couldn’t have most of the pastries/breads, I certainly had my fair share of macarons, chocolate, gelato and whatever gluten free baked goods I could find. All the walking in Europe made it seem not quite so bad (and the gym will always be waiting when you return).
  • If you’re in England splurge and enjoy a high tea. We went to Fortnum & Mason, which I definitely recommend and had a gluten free menu.

For all pictures: click on one to bring up a slideshow gallery

4. {discover} new perspective. gain confidence. strengthen bonds. love.

  • Sharing incredible experiences with friends makes those moments matter more.
  • Traveling alone has its benefits, but you’re naturally more confident with a companion by our side. While trying new things, you realize just how brave you are + gain confidence through each other.
  • After sharing the excitement + challenges of traveling, especially international, your friendship will be tested and hopefully grows stronger.
  • There will be many moments where you freeze and realize what a blessing this adventure is. What a beautiful world we live in. How amazing it is to experience it all with a good friend.

For all pictures: click on one to bring up a slideshow gallery

So, should you travel with a friend?

I absolutely think everyone should explore a new place with a friend (or friends) at least once in your life.

Pick who you decide to go with carefully though. Holly and I lived together for a few years so we knew we could be around each other for an extended amount of time without problems. We know each others interests, which allowed us to plan a trip we were both excited about. We know how to work together when obstacles arise, which they did, and are able to laugh about it later. I know when Holly needs some space and she knows I will always be stopping to take pictures.

Know who you’re going with so you can be sure you’re on the same page. Make sure you plan and talk about expectations before the trip. If you are someone who wants a relaxing trip then going with someone who wants to wake up early and have everything planned probably won’t work too well. That’s not saying you’re not good friends, but you might not be the best travel partners.

Whether you’re exploring a different state or country, you will conquer fears together, share new experiences, overcome obstacles, discover new perspective and surprise yourself. There are so many reasons to travel with a friend, but be sure to consider these points before embarking on a journey.

Even after you return from the trip, you will always have that time together. Those experiences you go through while traveling are unparalleled to anything you encounter on a daily basis. Nobody can take that away. Every time you reminisce and share those memories, that bond is stronger and the friendship grows.

What about you?

Have you traveled with a friend? If so, how was the experience? If not, have you thought about it and was this helpful?

Today’s tidbit
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”― Pat Conroy