One of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning a trip is who you will travel with. While choosing a travel partner from hell will leave you miserable and wanting to go home, picking the right companion can enhance your trip as you share new experiences together. To ensure you make a good choice, here are 10 questions to ask yourself before choosing a potential travel partner.
Do you have similar budgets?
In my opinion, this is one of the most important questions to ask. If your partner is looking to eat at five-star restaurants and stay at luxury hotels, while your plan is to eat street food and CouchSurf, there are going to be problems. You never want to be made to feel like you’re compromising your travel experience to please someone else. Moreover, you also don’t want to go broke trying not to appear cheap in the eyes of your companion. Have a candid talk with your potential travel buddy about what their budget is, and how much they are willing to compromise. Would they mind staying in a hostel instead of a hotel? Would you mind going out to eat three nights a week if they’re okay with eating fast food during the rest of the trip? Ask these questions before you book, not after.Is this person independent or co-dependent?
When I tell people the story of traveling through Europe with an extremely co-dependent backpacker, they usually think I’m exaggerating. Sadly, I am not. If I so much as went outside to read a book without her, she would scream at me. If I made new friends, she became jealous. If I showed an interest in doing something that wasn’t in her already-made plans, I would get the silent treatment. There are some people out there who really don’t want any alone time when traveling. And, if that travel style matches yours, that’s fine. However, if your the type of person who likes to walk around on your own at times, or even just wants the option to be able to if you want, make sure your potential travel partner will be okay with this. In my opinion, the best travelers are a mix of both. You want someone who is excited to share new experiences together, but who also won’t freak out if you need a break sometimes.
While at work or Friday happy hour it doesn’t bother you that your friend is a party animal who sleeps the weekends away, it may when you’re spending 24/7 together. While you don’t need to plan an itinerary, discussing some possible activity scenarios is a good idea. Would your partner be interested in a homestay, to get closer to the local culture? How adventurous are they? Is their idea of a vacation lying on the beach the whole time, or exploring the city? Make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to what interests you have, because if your friend wants to browse museums while you’d rather go hiking and horseback riding, it probably won’t work.
What type of accommodation do you want to stay in?
This is another area where I have gotten into trouble with travel partners. While my only qualification for an accommodation is that it doesn’t have bugs, my travel partner in South America wouldn’t stay in dorms with more than four people and wanted to scope out every hostel before we booked. Moreover, while I was interested in CouchSurfing and meeting locals, she wasn’t. Luckily, we were both very independent and were fine with staying in separate accommodations and doing things together during the day. However, don’t assume your partner will be okay with this situation. Talk about it before committing to travel together.
How flexible are they when it comes to planning?
How much does this person need things planned out compared to how much you do? If you’re the type of traveler who enjoys just showing up to a place and living in the moment, you probably won’t enjoy your trip if your partner needs every moment of every day written in an agenda book. Discuss your travel styles and what your ideal amount of planning is, and see if you can reach a compromise.
When traveling, I don’t get stressed out unless the people around me do. Incidents like lost luggage, broken electronics, missed trains and less-than-perfect hotel rooms don’t ruin my vacation. Because of this, I refuse to travel with anyone who freaks out over a lost shoe or a broken air conditioner. Yes, mishaps are annoying; however, if something isn’t jeopardizing your safety, you shouldn’t let it ruin your trip. Even more importantly, you shouldn’t let someone else let it ruin your trip.
What is their routine like?
Looking at a person’s everyday routine can give you insight into how they’ll travel. Do they take three hours to get ready? Are they big into partying? Do they sleep late or wake up early? Are they the type to sit inside all day doing nothing? Of course, people do act differently while on vacation depending on what they want to get out of the trip; however, if your friend is the type who can’t get up before noon if they’ve had too many beers, you may want to re-think traveling together.
How are your conversations?
Can the two of you hold a good conversation? Better yet, is silence awkward or comfortable? Do you have a similar sense of humor? You’ll be practically living with this person if you travel together, so you want to make sure you can have enjoyable talks without any discomfort.
If you’re traveling with a close friend who you’ve never traveled with before, how will it affect your relationship if you don’t end up being compatible as trip buddies? Will it ruin the friendship? If so, maybe you should think about traveling with someone you don’t know very well, such as someone from CouchSurfing or Globetrooper. If you do go with your close friend, make sure to candidly discuss your travel styles, goals and that if you end up not being good as travel partners it doesn’t mean you still can’t be close friends.
Would I be better off traveling solo?
If you’re unsure of who would make a compatible travel partner, why not travel solo? Think about it. You won’t have to compromise your trip to please anybody else. Instead, you choose exactly what you want to do, and when you want to do it. No discussions necessary. Additionally, you’ll open yourself up to meeting interesting people on the road, having new adventures and getting to really know your capabilities.