The other day, someone asked me who I usually travel with. Not a particularly strange question or anything, but definitely one that left me stumped. You see, I’ve run the gamut of travel companions. I’ve done everything from solo travel to family travel. I’ve traveled with one friend and I’ve traveled with ten (which, incidentally, I’m never doing again). So when thinking of picking the perfect travel buddy, I realized that there are a lot of aspects that go into deciding who you’re going to travel with. Travel, no matter how fun and exciting, oftentimes requires quite a bit of logistical maneuvering – this can be difficult if you and your companion(s) don’t see eye to eye. So I’ve come up with a list, if you will: the guide to picking the perfect travel buddy.
YOU BOTH (OR ALL) HAVE TO…
Agree on a budget:
There’s a difference between ballin’ on a budget and just ballin’, you know what I mean? But real talk, get the awkward money talk out of the way before the trip. Will it be every man for himself or a pool that everyone contributes to? And how much are you willing to spend on accommodation, food, and activities? This should all be figured out beforehand so nobody feels like Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids. #HelpMeI’mPoor
Make a plan…or don’t:
I have friends who plan out their travels on hourly excel grids, and I have friends who say “let’s just walk around and see where we end up.” Could you imagine if a planner ended up with a wanderer? It could potentially lead to disaster. All I know is that if I see a friend whipping out an hourly agenda, we’re not going to have a good time. This is key to picking the perfect travel buddy.
Set some ground rules:
Some people go on vacations to relax – sleep in, go to the beach, that kind of thing. Others prefer to run around the city from morning until evening, then pass out. This goes hand in hand with planning, but nothing is worse than impatiently trying to get someone out of bed – or feeling rushed to get out the door.
Share similar interests:
I personally have a one-museum-per-city rule. Maybe I’ll stretch it to two if the second museum is particularly exciting. But I’m not going to go to Paris with a friend who was an art history major and wants to spend an entire day at the Louvre and the next day at Musee D’Orsay. I’m also not a fan of spending entire days shopping at commercial malls, either. To each his own, but make sure your interests are at least somewhat aligned with your partner’s. Which leads me to…
Life isn’t perfect and neither are travel companions. It’s important to travel with someone who can compromise and/or is independent enough to part ways for a few hours. Maybe I want to check out some shops and my buddy wants to go to a museum. It’s okay to part ways for a bit and meet up later – plus, it relieves the tension of spending 24 hours a day with someone.
For my 22nd birthday, I planned a weekend trip with some friends to one of the Thousand Islands off the coast of Jakarta, Indonesia. I showed up to the port in a long dress, only to realize that we were departing from the fishing port and we were being transported in a cargo ship (yes, I’m surprised we didn’t get trafficked). We all took the unexpected changes in our stride – and even laughed when we found out we didn’t have running water for showers that evening. My point is that no matter how well you plan your travels, things don’t always go as planned. And that’s okay. It makes for a great story later! If your travel companion isn’t flexible enough to just roll with it, then you might be in for an unpleasant journey.
Have a sense of adventure:
If you’re traveling outside of your city or country and you don’t have a sense of adventure, then why did you leave in the first place? Get out there and try new things! Eat weird foods. Say yes to adventure sports. Meet new people. You might not love every place you end up in, but jump into the culture with open arms and have fun!
Now that I’ve experienced my fair share of travel companions, I know what my perfect partner in crime looks like – and which travel habits I absolutely cannot stand. And if you decide that you’re better off embracing an adventure on your own, then maybe it’s time to go on a solo trip instead!
What do you think? Did I miss any criteria for picking the perfect travel buddy? Share in the comments below!