Things To Look For In A Traveling Companion
“ I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
“ I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Traveling with family and friends either brings people together or tears them apart. All the friend happiness you have had when planning the trip can change when things go wrong or your blood sugar drops. People seem to change a lot on a trip. To quote a bumper sticker, conflict happens. The most important thing is communication. Communicate your priorities and travel styles during the planning stages not when you get there. Here are a few things to consider.
Similar travel rhythms. I like to do as much as possible – especially in a city. But if I am by a beach, I suddenly have nothing to do but be on the beach. Different places require different rhythms. It’s important to pick a travel partner who can adjust.
Have something in common. I like art, shopping, prefer walking and hiking to bike trips, start my day early, hate long lunches, or sitting in a bar all night.
Schedules are important. If you like to stay out all night and get up late, I will be gone in the morning. I like to get an early start before the crowds.
It’s hard for me to be with someone who doesn’t say what they want. The phrase “whatever you want to do, I don’t care I’m easy” always turns out to be that they do care. Have an opinion and find things out on your own. I always have a plan of things to do but rarely stick to it because I like it when other people know about different things. On the other hand, two leaders could be a problem.
Do what you are best at. I’m good at planning but bad at directions and photography. Don’t expect because I plan well, that you can hand me a map and we will go out and explore the city. If I am not with someone who knows a city, I am lost, always asking directions (usually to a photo on my phone) or I am in a taxi. I know my limitations.
Be sensitive to each others differences. Compromise is important. If they have traits at home, that annoy you, it will probably be worse on the road. Not all of your friends will be good travel partners. I’ve found that taking someone out of their comfort zone changes everything. Traveling with and not wanting to travel with people have broken relationships for me.
Have a plan about money. If you are a person who likes to split a bill or take turns paying, you are going to get annoyed if your travel partner adds up everything you ate to the penny or constantly leaves his wallet in the safe. Check the hotels beforehand so they look like places you both want to stay at.
Meals are important. Food is a big part of traveling for me. Being with a picky eater, or vegetarian is going to be hard for me. I eat three meals a day and snacks. I prefer two of them to be light and quick. I’m not brave when it comes to street food. I like to be with someone who has eaten it before and knows it is clean. I’m sure Anthony Bourdain has gotten parasites.
Be flexible. The best part of traveling is the unexpected surprises. Spontaneity is as important as planning.
I like someone who can be by themselves at times. Even your mother needs a break now and then. If there is something I want to do and you don’t, do not come and be miserable. Find something else to do and meet up later.
The most important thing is to know yourself. You are not perfect either. I don’t think that I am easy to travel with. I find my quirks endearing but I’m not sure that everyone else does. Don’t be so quick to judge other people and if it doesn’t work out, you live and learn, at any rate, you live.