Ok, so we’re all different, right? But when it comes down to spending large amounts of money and time on an adventure abroad, there’s got to be an easy way to choose a good travel partner, right?
Sure, you like your siblings, you are in love with your boyfriend and you even enjoy the company of your best friend… but are they compatible with your travel style?
And, well, not everybody is up for that kind of obsession.
Who is the best travel partner?
It can be nearly impossible to find a travel partner that shares your exact tastes, your exact pace and even your exact food cravings.
But in my opinion choosing a great travel partner is a bit like choosing a boyfriend/fiancée/husband.
There has to be some amount of overlapping of tastes and interests, things you have in common that excite you both.
But it’s good to have some differences so that you both can experience new things that otherwise you may have not wanted to try.
There also has to be a good amount of flexibility on both parts to be able to put up with an activity that may not be your cup of tea, while it is your partner’s. And vice versa.
There has to be an agreement in terms of the amount of physical activity you’re willing to endure on any given day, an agreement in time schedules and when to do stuff.
You both have to relinquish blame when something doesn’t occur as planned.
As in relationships, sometimes leadership will fall on one of the partners, so there has to be an understanding of how those dynamics work.
Will it always be the same person leading the entire trip? Or will it be a rotating position?
In the end, yes, you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person while visiting some pretty amazing sites… is he/she somebody you can stand to be with for so long?
4 questions you need to ask to choose an awesome travel partner
Are our tastes and interests compatible?
If his idea of travel is to lie on a tropical beach for hours while you want to visit the nearby ancient ruins, he may not be your best travel partner.
You both need to have similar topics and interests you want to see during your travels.
This is key for planning because it affects the time of year for your trip, the places you’re going to visit, the kinds of activities you want to try and more.
Are our characters compatible?
What happens if you’re a laid back, relaxed person while your candidate travel partner is an impatient I-want-it-now kind of guy/gal?
Does he/she become too frustrated if things don’t go according to plan? Is he/she likely to get in a fit of rage if they get pickpocketed?
Or maybe you’re a strict let’s-follow-the-plan military kind of person while your sister would still rather sleep until noon.
I think evaluating if your characters are compatible, if you can stand to be with this person for long stretches of time, if you’re able to negotiate and regroup is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a travel partner.
Do we have compatible times and schedules?
In my opinion, if I’m traveling abroad, I’m going to get up early to try and see as much as I can that day.
See, I’m not much of a party person, so in general I’m not that much interested in going out at night. I’d rather visit all the cultural sites during the day.
My sister on the other hand, can sleep until noon ;-)
So when we planned our trip together to New York we made a pact that I wouldn’t get up at the crack of dawn and she would get up at a reasonable hour.
The same when I went with a friend to Cusco and Machu Picchu, she’s all for partying, so when she wanted to attend the free samba lessons at a club in Plaza de Armas, I headed straight for bed.
No conflicts. But in any case, this time and schedule thing needs to be discussed, clarified and agreed upon before the trip.
Do we have the same concept of money?
Maybe your candidate travel partner has no issue in spending 50 euro at a swanky café in Paris but you do.
The concept of money is relative for each person. And money while on travel —as with any relationship— can put a damper on your experience.
Money is relative to each person, the concept of what’s cheap and what’s expensive can be completely different for you and your travel partner.
So discuss in advance if you’ll want to stick to a budget, if there are some things where you want to splurge, how much money (and time) you want to allocate for shopping, the kinds of restaurants you may want to eat at, etc.
After you’ve asked yourself these key questions and have narrowed down your pageant selection to a couple of people, then maybe you can present the plan to them to see who wants to get on board.
Maybe they all want to come and you can have a nice travel group that will help everybody get better deals in hotels, airfare, food and more!
Once you’ve selected your ideal travel partner…
Work out your itinerary together
Each person should present their selection of places the want to visit and things they want to experience.
And then, as a team, you should decide the itinerary of what to do when and for how long.
And everybody needs to agree. You need to treat this as a sort of business meeting, where a team needs to make decisions in order to advance an important project.
There needs to be consensus and probably, a leader (when more than two people are involved), chosen democratically by the others.
Work out plan Bs
Even with the most careful planning, there are things that may go wrong. Plan in advance with your travel partner or team the possible solutions.
Perhaps you can visit other sites nearby or enjoy a fantastic meal in the restaurant around the corner.
Be flexible and adjust as needed
I think the most important message I want to give you is this: Flexibility and resilience are key.
Sure, you need to plan with a lot of detail so that you can make the most of your experience. Unfortunately, plans don’t always work out.
Sites get closed for restoration, booths are moved temporarily, opening hours may be shifted for a special event…
Remember, this is in the end an adventure, it’s supposed to be fun and make you grow. Take any inconveniences in stride, adapt, adjust, regroup.
Don’t take things personally, don’t get mad and move on.
Ultimately it’s about the experience and the memories you shared with your travel partner (or partners).
Who’s your best travel partner? Has it always worked out for you?
Has a trip been ruined because of a poor selection of a travel partner?
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