While the topic of this post has the potential to cause fractures within even the strongest of friendships, it is my responsibility as an aspiring travel writer to cover those topics that have the potential to make or break a trip.
For anyone who has travelled extensively, I’m sure you’ve had some degree of regret over your choice of travel companion at one point or another. Whether it was a family member (a family trip always sounds like a great idea at the time…), a best friend (who no longer holds that title) or that older guy from the hostel in Bangkok who appears to have not made it out of the 60’s in tact, everyone seems to have something to contribute to a conversation around bad travel partners.
At this point, I need to be honest (and for the sake of my marriage) and state that my favourite travel companion just so happens to be my wife. We travelled a lot before getting married and I honestly believe that our ability to stick together through the tribulations that travel can throw at you has helped us to get where we are today.
Anyway back to the point… If you have clicked on this article and read this far, I’m guessing you either have a horror story of your own are after some advice on choosing the ideal travel companion. Before we get into my advice on choosing a travel buddy, it is important to first consider yourself and to gain an understanding of what makes you happy. It is just as important to also realise that you have faults and weird behaviours of your own.
Get to know yourself first
Understanding, and being able to admit that you have your own good and not so good points is the first step in choosing the ideal travel partner. Most of us know what makes us happy, but getting to know what makes you irritable is perhaps more important. Knowing what makes you tick will help you to choose someone who compliments your own personality.
Like the outdoors? Don’t travel with someone who only wants to see the inside of a bar
On one trip through Asia I travelled with a guy who only had one goal or activity in mind: getting drunk! Don’t get me wrong, you won’t often find me knocking back the opportunity to enjoy a cold beer but travel for me is about more than sitting in bars and joining pub crawls. If spending time in the great outdoors is high on your priority list, then consider travelling with someone who also enjoys getting outside and being active. This piece of advice can be applied to any activity, whether it’s visiting museums or seeing famous ruins.
Travel with someone who is on a similar budget
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t travel with a friend who has just won the lottery, or has inherited a small fortune from a long-lost aunt. Likewise, if you’ve been saving for years for the overseas adventure of a lifetime then don’t invite a friend to join you who will only manage to scrape together the bare minimum. More often than not, you will have worked hard in order to travel. You deserve to do anything and everything while on the road so don’t be held back by inviting that friend with no money, or worse yet, that friend who opts for the 50 hour bus ride over the short flight all for the sake of $10.
Travel with someone who gets you
Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional quiet night in? Many of us enjoy staying out into the wee hours when travelling as this is often when lifelong friendships are made with those we meet while travelling. But if you’re like me, you will need an early night every now and then to charge the batteries and get ready for that early hike or dawn surf. The last thing you need is someone questioning your motive behind an early night. Choose to travel with someone who is secure enough within themselves to accept your need to do what suits you sometimes. If you’re worried about offending your travel buddy then it’s a good idea to have a chat about these things before the trip begins.
Being honest is often the most difficult thing we have to do as humans. Fear of hurting those we care about drives many people to remain silent and put up with whatever is making them unhappy. While we all know people who wouldn’t think twice about letting their feelings be known, most people take the easy option and say nothing while their insides burn away. Remember, you’ve worked hard to have the opportunity to travel and let’s face it, these chances don’t come around all that often, so be honest with yourself and with your travel companion before you depart and maintain that degree of honesty while on the road.
Travel is an enriching experience whether you choose to do it alone or to share the experience with a friend, family member or someone you’ve only just met. It draws people closer together and more often than not, leads to lifelong friendships. If you choose to travel with others, make sure everyone is clear on what the others in the group hope to achieve from the trip. Be clear on the key things or activities you want to do and be open to the opinions and wishes of others.
Carefully choosing your travel companion and considering their personality will make your trip. If things do become difficult on the road (chances are they will at some point) remember to be honest with yourself and with them also. If you’re feeling that things aren’t working as they should, there’s a pretty good chance they are too!