BY EGLE GERULAITYTE
Riding RTW as a couple can be the best thing ever – if you stand the test of being together 24/7, working as a team, and learning to compromise, that is.
On the other hand, should you just brave the world on your own? After all, going solo means more freedom, less trade-offs and more contact with the locals as you’re more approachable on your own.
I’ve done both: spent eighteen months riding South America solo, and traveled Europe and North America with my partner Paul. Here’s my list of pros and cons for each scenario – plus some ideas for improvisation on the road!
There’s something very special about hitting that open road on your own: heading off into the horizon and enjoying the quiet helmet time as the miles disappear under your tires is probably the most delicious form of freedom there is. You answer to no one and owe nobody, your time is your own, and you’re free to change routes and schedules as you go along. Wild-camp or splurge on a hotel if you feel like it, go mingle with the locals if you’re in a socializing mood or hike across a national park if your soul calls for solitude – anything is possible, and anything goes.
Go solo if:
– You’re happy in your own company, and don’t need to be surrounded by people all the time. Those lonely miles can get to you if you’re not used to solitude!
– You’re very set in your ways and dislike to compromise
– You love interacting with the local people: when you travel on your own, people are a lot more likely to approach you
– You want to learn a local language. When you’re traveling solo, you’re simply forced to talk to people, and it’s a great way to learn languages!
– You’re very impulsive and change your mind a lot
– You prefer to stay single
– You’re looking to challenge yourself
Since 2016, I’ve been riding round the world together with my partner Paul. We met at a Horizons Unlimited travelers’ gathering in Wales, fell in love, and never separated since: we’ve ridden from Nordkapp, Norway to Crete, Greece two-up on Paul’s Super Tenere, and have crossed Canada, the States and Mexico on two separate bikes.
Since we were both on the road, both loved motorcycling and traveling and both wanted to go at a similar pace, we didn’t really have much trouble adjusting to each other’s ideas and mode of traveling. Sure, there were things to work out: Paul prefers lots of riding while I’m more interested in cultures and local colors. Paul retired at 42 and lives off of passive income, while I still work on the road. I enjoy cooking healthy food at all times, while Paul is happy with pollo asado and pizza.
On the other hand, those differences mean we complement each other: I take care of our food, while Paul maintains our bikes. Paul is great at route planning, I know more languages. I don’t yet know how to install a new clutch cable, Paul hates doing dishes – and so on, and so forth: being different doesn’t mean conflict, quite the opposite!
And finally, there are some fundamental things we agree on: where to go and how fast, how much off-road riding to do, where to stay, and what to see. Are we the perfect couple? Hardly, but with a little bit of diplomacy, the ability not to overreact to minor annoyances and the willingness to work as a team keeps us together.
Go with your significant other or friend if:
– You love them!
– You work great as a team and complement each other
– You’re willing to compromise, talk, and make decisions together
– You love sharing the experience and have similar goals
– Your riding and traveling styles match, at least for the most part
– You don’t like being lonely
– You need a friend or a significant other for that extra boost of courage and support when the riding gets tough, or if you feel safer with company
– You want to save costs: sharing hotel rooms, shipping containers and campsite fees can do wonders for your budget
– You simply prefer to experience the world with someone you love
Mix and Match
Life hardly ever works the way we plan to, and the same goes for riding round the world. Friends go their separate ways, people fall in love with someone they meet on the road, couples improve their relationships or break up – just like in life, anything can happen on the road.
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be happy riding round the world solo but aren’t in a committed relationship at the moment or can’t find a friend to come along, there’s nothing wrong in simply meeting people on the road. You can buddy up with other riders for more remote or dangerous regions of the world like Central Asia or the Congo. You can ride together with other people for a few days or a few weeks, whatever your heart desires; or you may unexpectedly meet The One on the road. At the same time, be honest: if you prefer traveling solo, tell people upfront. And if you’ve enjoyed their company for a while, but now want to ride on your own again, be honest about that, too.
The formula for happiness is different for everyone, so don’t be afraid to improvise as you go along. But most importantly, solo or in a relationship, on your own or with friends – go!