Choosing a travel companion is a big deal. The person you travel with will affect how much you enjoy your trip while it’s happening and how you look back on it after it’s over.
Who you travel with is just as important as your destination, the length of your trip, your budget, and your travel style.
What should I look for in a travel companion?
If you have no shared history or background with someone and no real-life experience of their temperament or sensibilities it’s impossible to predict their behavior when you’re on the road. That’s a given.
But what about traveling with people you know, or even people you live with? Spending time with people on the road isn’t the same as at home, especially if you plan to travel internationally. But when you get stuck on a train with someone for 15 hours, or handling an emergency situation in an alley, or walking into a hostel to find your room’s been given away, people’s true colors bleed through very quickly.
It may be an obvious tip, but it bears repeating: Be sure to spend some time with your would-be travel companion before the trip. If at all possible, take a few short trips (a couple of day trips, and at least one weekend away) before you decide to travel with anyone (even your roommate or significant other) long-term. Here are a five more tips to consider:
1. Have some common interests. You and your travel buddy’s interests will determine how you’ll be spending your time on the road. If you like museums and he doesn’t, there’ll be more back and forth and conflict on your trip.
2. Avoid people who tend to extremes. If someone’s exceptionally talkative, obsessive or neurotic and you’re low-key and zen, think twice before putting their name on the same reservation as you.
3. Agree on expenditures before you leave. Having a similar budget in mind will ease the way. Because if your companion wants to go rafting, diving and eat at pricey restaurants and you can’t or don’t want to afford these things, you’re going to have words.
4. Make sure your personalities gel. You and whoever you choose to travel with should click and be able to talk about pretty much anything.
5. Age matters. If you’re not related, traveling with someone much older or younger can be a drag. You’ll want to go out when they’re ready to settle in for the night. Or vice versa – you’re beat and they’re up for a few more hours. Keep it within 5 – 10 years and you’ll get along swimmingly.
When deciding on who you’d like to travel with, if there’s not an easy choice, choose someone who fits you own traveling style and traveling personality. The closer these match, the better you’ll get along.
If all else fails, you can always consider traveling solo.