How to Be Single While Travelling with Couple Friends

How to Survive Being a Fifth Wheel While Travelling with Couple Friends

Being the token single friend shouldn’t be a bad thing!

I guess I’ve gotten lucky. Despite having a friend group that’s 2/3 long-term couples, I’ve never felt out-of-place when hanging out with them. For context — this group of friends is composed of me, Couple A, Couple B, and Fellow Single Friend. We make it a point to travel together at least once a year, and honestly, I’m so grateful to have them as my go-to travel buddies! So being the fifth wheel on some trips, even when Fellow Single Friend can’t make it, is never a bad experience. And I suppose it also helps that I’ve never been one to have any F.O.M.O., as far as romantic relationships are concerned. 

But of course, it’s a different experience for other single folks. But I say, don’t let that stop you from tagging along with your coupled-up buddies, especially if it’s a trip you’d really like to join! Come on — does it really matter if you’re the only single friend when you’re having a great time exploring the sights and sounds of, say, Japan? That said, here are some tips and tricks to survive your Fifth Wheel Travel Experience! 

Also read: Let’s Be Honest: You Don’t Really Know Your Partner Or Friends Until You Travel With Them

1. Learn to be okay with being the single one

First things first: learn to enjoy your own company. Be okay with being alone — I can’t stress this enough. This is something to remember especially when travelling with a couple or two. There’ll be times when you’ll wonder why you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend to travel with, and that’s alright. But hey, being the fifth wheel is better than settling, or travelling with an S.O. that you might not have the best time with. So there is that!

2. Know that your friends really want to have you along

The fact that you’re travelling with your couple friends probably means that they truly like your company. Yes, even when they already have an S.O. Regardless, don’t think of yourself as merely a tagalong just because you’re single! Trust me, your friends enjoy your company, regardless of your romantic status. 

Alternatively, you might even end up being the ‘adopted child’. This is often my role with one of my couple friends, which I find hilarious. Tagging along with them is never a bore! 

3. Anticipate the usual ‘couple stuff’

Including but not limited to: occasional bickering, taking longer than usual to choose a restaurant, hand-holding while walking, and other cheesy gestures. Though, of course, it may vary per couple. Whether or not it’s something you mind, there are just some things that come along with travelling with couple friends. So if it’s your first trip with them, try to get used to their patterns even when at a dinner in town. 

That said, know that there are things that you just have to let slide. So if you’re that friend with a lot of judgmental tendencies, especially towards couples in general, travelling with them might not be a good idea. 

Also read: 9 Things That Happen When You Travel with Your Partner for the First Time

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up

We’re all for being understanding and letting some things slide. But of course, know you also have a voice when some things make you feel downright awkward and/or uncomfortable. Or even when you feel left out at one point. At the end of the day, communication is key. These people are your friends, after all! 

Also read: Self-care for Travel: Tips & Tricks That Are Bound to Get You on Your Feet Again

5. Avoid taking sides

Petty fights and arguments are normal, especially for couples who haven’t travelled with each other that much yet! Regardless of the gravity of the lovers’ quarrel, it’s best not to choose sides since this tends to make situations worse. Whether you’re originally friends with only 1/2 of the couple or both, let them sort things out on their own. You’re all adults, anyway. (Although, it’s times like these that make you thankful that you’re single!)

6. It’s okay to say no

Somewhere during the trip, there might be times when you don’t feel like going along with them. Or you’d rather see Tourist Spot A, but your couple friends would rather go to Tourist Spot B. If schedule constraint is an issue and your friend-group can’t do both, then feel free to do some solo sightseeing on your own. Just let them know! I’m sure your buddies will understand.

7. Get a co-fifth wheel friend

Not sure if this counts as ‘cheating,’ but if you can, bring along another friend who’s also single! In my group, I often have someone I call my ‘co-fifth wheel’ friend. Unfortunately, that friend now lives in a different city so we rarely get to see him. But on the bright side, he’s the most extroverted person I know, so having him around is always great especially when we travel! He’s also good at handling tension whenever our couple friends fight, so thank goodness for that. 

8. You have a real-life basis on couple travels

This one’s not exactly a tip, but still worth taking note of. You see, if your friends’ relationships are as healthy as it should be, it sets the bar high for you as well. I’m not going to lie — whenever I go out with someone, I tend to wonder how well he’d fit into our group dynamics, especially when travelling. You know, just in case things work out. So, if you have couple friends that you enjoy travelling and fifth-wheeling with, learn from them. And keep your fingers crossed that they last together! 

Also read: Call Me Weird, But I Hate Travelling in Groups. Here’s Why

Got any third-/fifth-/nth wheeling stories while travelling with couple friends? We’d love to hear all about it! 

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.

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