‘I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.’ Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad
When it comes to booking a trip, how much do you actually think about whether you’ll get on with your travel companions? As Mark Twain wrote, travelling with someone, or some people, may reveal a less likeable side to their character. On the same note, they may also see a side to you that they’d never seen at home. Travel can test any relationship to the max, especially if it’s your first time away together. This rings true for any relationship, whether romantic or platonic.
Choosing the perfect travel buddy
Look out for the telltale signs
For most of us, the telltale signs of a possible malfunction in the relationship are usually there from the start. Maybe your companion/s constantly complained on the flight, or judged the destination immediately upon landing.
As so, what starts off as the trip of a lifetime quickly descends into the biggest mistake you’ve made. And you quickly find out how poorly matched you are on the travel scale.
Many moons ago, I booked my first girls’ holidays with 2 friends to Majorca in Spain. A self-catering apartment a few minutes walk to the beach, with great company, what could go wrong?
A lot actually. During the 7 days there, we disagreed, among other things, on where to eat, what to eat, and what to do. Our photos, however, showed us as smiling, happy shiny people. But behind the glossy façade, we were miserable. The issue of budget came up on a daily basis, and we missed out on activities as we couldn’t agree.
That’s not to say we didn’t have some good times together. There were those few hours on the beach, and some laughs on the bar crawl. However, the reality of the matter was, we weren’t compatible travel companions.
While our friendship did survive the holiday, we never did it again! I’d learned that spending time, even a whole day, with them at home was far different to being abroad. It may be common sense now, but at the time I was naiver, and never thought we’d fall out.
How to choose the right travel buddy/ies for you
Choosing suitable travel buddies can be as tricky as finding the right partner. Spending long periods of time together and being each other’s company, can frustrate even the zen-est of characters.
Follow these tips to help filter the ‘yes’s’ from the no’s, and spend more time enjoying, than regretting.
Three’s a crowd: four’s a party
If you’ve made the decision to travel in a group, choosing the right number of people can help keep the peace. From my experience, traveling in a group of 3 is difficult. This is because there’s always one person who has to be the mediator between the other two.
With 4 people, there’s more likelihood of a balance when it comes to making decisions. For example, 2 may prefer to lie on the beach all day, while the other 2 want to explore the city. You may disagree at the start, but can still do all the things you planned.
Have common likes
When a friend of mine asked me to go away together, I wasn’t sure. Though we connected on a minor level at home, we weren’t close enough for a trip abroad.
While I enjoyed taking in the local culture, eating, drinking etc, my friend loved to party. Needless to say, we never made the trip. Choosing the right travel friends is so important, unless you don’t mind temporarily switching up your interests. The crux of the story: choose travel buddies whose common interests match your own.
Money’s really too tight to mention
Traveling with people who always hesitate on taking out their wallet may not make the best travel buddies.
A person’s financial circumstances is their own business, but traveling with an overly frugal person can be limiting.
Say you’re a passionate foodie. You really want to try that Michelin-star restaurant in San Sebastian, but your buddy’s happy with a burger. The only memories you’ll take home will be a dodgy stomach, and a bad taste from a possibly soured friendship.
The importance of being clean
This one’s tricky, and a little on the sensitive side. If your travel buddies’ idea of personal hygiene consists of brushing their teeth with their fingers, you may want to rethink your decision.
Let’s be honest. You want to travel with someone who’s hygienic, and a not a slob with their belongings. Imagine sharing a room with someone who leaves their stuff everywhere. Now add that they never flush the toilet and shower when they feel like it. It’s not pleasant, and you’ll soon get fed up very quickly.
Knowing me, knowing you
The last tip’s a no-brainer, but still begs a mention. When taking the decision to travel with friends, be absolutely certain that you like them!
Be honest, and ask yourself whether you can see yourself spending a lot of time together. After all, if you’re not sure about your them on home territory, it won’t make any difference abroad.
Above all, traveling should be a memorable experience for all the right reasons. If you’re at a point in life where your friends can’t travel, but you really want to go, these websites may be useful.
Alternatively, you should consider solo travel. Your itinerary’s a blank canvas, you’ll meet lots of other people, and the only person you need to please is yourself.
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