Nothing, and I mean nothing, can make or break your travel time more than your travel buddies.
Whether it is friendly people you meet on the road to have a beer and share a laugh with, or the people that are with you from start to finish, the company you keep will make a journey epic… or miserable.
As Jen was returning from her tour-de-dumplings in China, she had something crazy like 43 straight hours on the road and she was the first to say that it would have been unbearable without “the bears” (her cadre of “bad ideas” travel friends). I too have my crew of people that it is just easier to travel with… and those that I have found to be draining.
Jen and I travel exceptionally well together — all took was a hurricane to discover that. Last year we lived on opposite sides of the world and now we just live in different parts of the country, but on the road we connect and just jive well together. Before you plan your next adventure or your first trip with a friend, it is important to think about how much travel tests you and will test your relationship. It may take some trial and error and good deal of luck for you too to find your best travel partner(s) but here are some things to think about when selecting someone to share the road with:
- Know Thyself — These are the items that are important to me or areas of concern to me. Your list might be entirely different. The most important thing is that you know yourself on the road and have some sense of those priorities. This also takes trial and error but you can think about what energizes you and how you would plan things ideally, then see if your travel buddy shares in these ideals and priorities.
- Travel Style — Totally planned or let’s just see? comfortable or outside-your-comfort zone? The Ritz or a hostel? Cabs or Subways? 10 Days, 10 cities or 10 days in one place? “Hole in the wall” hidden gems or finer dining restaurants? Off the beaten path or all according to a AAA guide? On a compound or in an in-town AirBnB? Planes, trains or automobiles? Understand your preferences and comfort levels for your travel style. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer here, just a preference, but you and your buddy must agree on the basics.
- Budget — Related to #2 but important enough for it’s own bullet — nothing sets the scope and changes the tone of travel like budget. Ya’ll need to be similar in your spending habits or you’re destined for strife.
- Daily Routine — We are creatures of habit and you will want and make for yourself some semblance of routine even on the road. Are you an early riser or a night owl? Do you like 3 square meals a day or do you nosh here and there? Especially sleeping and eating habits must somewhat align or you’re in for trouble. Jen and I understand that coffee isn’t an option in the morning for either of us and most planning doesn’t happen until we have both done our internet bits and gotten at least a solid cup of coffee in us. Others can be understanding of this, but it is better that the essentials are shared.
- What to do — This might sound silly but really, what do you like to see and do on the road? Do you plan your travel around meals? Nightlife? Museums or cultural attractions? Races? Or just around walking around a city or the country? Hop on Trip Advisor and start scoping out what you’re going to do, if you aren’t looking at the same things you’ll know pretty quick. This isn’t as much as a dealbreaker as sleeping habits, because you can always split off and do your own thing for a while, but isn’t the point of traveling together doing things together?
- Can you talk about it? — The most important aspect of any relationship is communication and your travel buddies are no different. Do ya’ll speak the same language? Jen and I have an endless stream of somewhat sarcastic jokes going throughout our journies. We think we are hilarious but apparently this can be grating to others but works for us. We also both are introverted enough to be able to not talk for hours in a studio apartment and be totally happy. But when the hard times hit or those convos need to happen, we are respectful and understand each other enough to have them constructively. Then get back to the jokes and fun.
There is no way to really know if a relationship will work on the road without just going for it. I’d recommend planning a quick weekend escape first and see how that goes before committing to a full adventure. Being around different people also helps you understand more about yourself and how you like to travel.
Remember always it is about the journey and not the destination… well, at least for me.
What is important to you in a travel partner?