I’ve done a lot of traveling in my life and I hope to do a lot more traveling before it’s all said and done. As such, I’ve really come to appreciate how much of a difference it makes to have good travel companions. It can really make the difference between an amazing trip and a disastrous trip. If you’re not sure whether or not somebody will make a good travel companion for you, there are some things you should consider…
What are your expectations for the trip?
Before you travel with somebody, you should discuss with them what their expectations for the trip are going to be. Find out what they want to do in their time in a destination. If you just want to tromp around in the forest the whole time and your companion is really just interested in shopping and hanging out by the pool, you might not be good travel companions. Try to compromise with each other and come up with a plan that works for both of you before you book your trip.
Planning the trip.
This is another big one. When you’re planning a trip with a friend you’re going to want to work out all the really important details together beforehand. Are there any travel dates that won’t work for one of you? How long can you both reasonably take off of work? Can we both afford our share of this trip? (i.e. are the plane tickets affordable and can you both afford to pay your half of things like hotel, rental car, etc.).
It’s absolutely imperative that you work these details out beforehand. Don’t purchase anything until everybody agrees on these details and has their share of the money ready to go. There’s nothing worse than money squabbles coming between friends. Don’t front the money for a friend unless you know that you can trust them to pay you back for it. Don’t book anything at all until you both agree. This will save you a lot of headaches.
What is your travel style?
I like to make loose plans and then fill in the rest of my time just exploring. I tend to wander around on foot A LOT and can tire people out who aren’t used to a lot of exercise. I also enjoy going on long hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, and any other active outdoorsy activities. I’m probably not a good traveling companion for somebody who likes to spend long days lounging poolside at a resort, going out to bars, and spending the day shopping. Find out your companion’s travel style before you go. Otherwise one of you is going to feel like you didn’t get to do what you wanted on the trip and will feel disappointed.
How well do you get along?
I know this might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure this is somebody you get along with when you spend a lot of time together in close quarters. We all have that friend who we like to see for an afternoon but who starts to get on our nerves after too long. Don’t travel with this person. You’re going to end up angry with one another by the end of the trip.
Will you be traveling on similar budgets?
Make sure your travel friends are going to be traveling on a similar budget to you. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel with friends who have more or less money than you do, but you might want to consider the problems that would arise if one of you is scraping by on an extreme budget and the other one wants to book expensive tours every day and go out to fancy expensive dinners every night. Talking about money can be an awkward thing, but it’s better to work out your plan for meals and activities together beforehand so that you don’t wind up in a situation where this becomes an issue while you’re on the road.
Can you accommodate one another?
If you aren’t 100% compatible with your intended travel companion, that doesn’t necessarily mean the trip will go poorly, but you do need to make some accommodations for each other and make sure these things are agreed upon ahead of time. What I mean by that is that if you are the kind of person who loves to walk around all day without a schedule and you’re traveling with somebody who wants to absolutely make sure they see everything on their “to do” list, you might want to consider splitting up for parts of the trip and planning certain times to get together for specific activities or meals. That way, you get to wander around and feel free, and your friend won’t stress out about missing things. If you’re in a destination where public transit isn’t very good, you might even consider getting separate rental cars so neither of you feels dragged down by the other. If separate rental cars is too expensive, you can work out a schedule to trade off with the car so each of you gets a turn with it. Another option is to compromise your trip schedule and split your time between things you want to do and things they want to do. If your friend is all about lounging by the pool and you’re all about hiking, you might consider taking them on a couple hikes with you and in return spending a couple days lounging by the pool together.
What kind of trip is it?
Certain destinations and trips lend themselves to making accommodations better than others. For instance, if I’m renting a house on a small island off the coast of Belize with several people, there’s really only so many places I can go and things I can do. If I want to take off and walk around the island while my friend hangs out on the beach reading a book, that’s probably fine. On the other hand, if I’m traveling to a larger destination with a lot more options on what to do, it’s going to be harder to make everybody happy.
The bottom line.
It’s all about compromise. Can you compromise? Do you get along? Do your expectations sync well with one another? If so, happy travels! If not, you might want to reconsider traveling together.
Daily post: Shared Journeys.