Who is compatible with you? Who is going to make your trip better?
These are three of my favorite traveling companions!
You know where you want to go and what you want to do. Now, you just have to decide who to do it with.
Be careful! Not every one of your friends will make you a compatible travel partner. The act of traveling has made, or broken, more than a few relationships. Sometimes your best friend is great while you are at home, but putting him outside his comfort zone will change everything.
In my opinion, people shouldn’t get married until they’ve taken at least one multi-day trip together, preferably to a foreign country or at least to the Apalachians! It really weeds out those people that you just can’t live with. The first time I went on a real trip, paid for and planned by yours truly, I went with the boyfriend I had in high school. This was a graduation gift to myself, and he was just tagging along. Literally! He never spoke outside the hotel room. He hid behind me when I was talking to someone. The only thing he liked were the cat-shaped chocolates that were outrageously priced in our hotel room bar. Guess how long he lasted!
Throughout my years traveling, friends, acquaintances, even people I’ve just met have asked to travel with me. I usually let them. Once. Everybody will get one try, but that might be it, just one. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be your friend, I just don’t want to travel with you. I can be very picky. C’mon, I’ve saved for this trip. I planned it. I want it to turn out great.
Travel is all kinds of things. It’s new, strange, exciting, boring, adventurous, tedious, scary, awe-inspiring, funny, uncomfortable…and when travel is good, it’s real good. However, when it’s bad…well, that’s when people start to get into trouble.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty…I’ve come up with a few simple rules to finding the perfect travel companion. Are you ready?
Step One: Know yourself.
The first step is to define who you are as a traveler. This is the most crucial part of finding a great travel partner. If you don’t know who you are and your preferences, how are you going to find someone who complements you? Here are a few questions to help you decide who you are. These are not questions for you to feel judged. No one’s going to know your answers but you, unless you decide to share, so be honest! There are no wrong answers.
What do you want to do while you are traveling? Relax, party, sight-see, tour, sports–are you okay with doing some things on your own while your partner goes off and does her own thing, or are you picturing that the entire trip will be the two of you together all the time? What do you like to eat when you’re traveling? Western food, local food, in good restaurants, street food, on a budget? Do you want to plan the whole trip or let someone else do all the legwork? Do you like to lead the way or would you rather follow? Do you need an itinerary set before you go or do you like to play it by ear?
Step Two: Find out about your potential partner.
How do you get this someone to answer the questions above? Ask him or her. Trust me when I tell you that when you are stuck on a 12 hour bus or train or in an airport waiting for your late flight, there is nothing to do but talk. You might as well start now. Be honest with each other. The bottom line is, you are going to find out real quick if you’ve been telling the truth, so you might as well start out that way. If you feel you are changing your answers, or qualifying your partner’s answers, then that’s a sign. A sign that you may not be as compatible as you would like. Follow your gut on this one. You are the only one that has to live with your decision.
Step Three: Analyze your answers.
Yes, you’ve probably been doing this the whole time, but really take some quiet time to think about your answers and your partner’s answers. Some of the answers should be basically the same, and some should be wildly different.
You certainly are going to want to travel with people who are interested in the same things you are. If you are an early bird, she should be too. If you like to dance all night, he should too. If you want to eat as many new foods as possible, she should too. You get the picture. You really have to like the same things, be on the same schedule, and enjoy the same foods.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be someone who is spontaneous paired with someone who gets a rash if the itinerary isn’t completely planned out ahead of time. Likewise, you don’t want to have two leaders. Someone’s got to follow.
For more ideas about finding your perfect travel companion, watch our travel interview series, Passports or Pass!
Ah c’mon! We’ve all had our share of good and bad travel companions! I’d love to hear some of yours. Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!