Travel buddies. Choose them wisely
They say they you don’t really get to know someone until you travel or live with them. Yet often when planning a trip away, the person (or people) who will accompany us receives very little thought. A good friend or even a best friend does not always translate into a good travel buddy*. The more time I spend on the road, the more horror stories I hear about travel ruining friendships. I too have experienced the shock of truly getting to know someone that I have chosen to travel with and quickly realizing we have absolutely nothing in common. I mean, who cries and demands in between sobs that an airline apologise for us having to wait in a queue for 60 minutes? It’s moments like this, as I shuffle away and pretend that I don’t know this person, that I kick myself for not having a more strict selection criteria.
It will not come as a shock that I generally prefer to ride solo. There is something liberating and extremely challenging about relying on just yourself. You learn to know yourself in a way that just isn’t possible when in the company of others. With that said, there are certainly benefits to sharing your experience with someone, that someone just needs to be right someone or otherwise things can turn sour very quickly.
The discrepancies tend to occur not due to a difference in personalities per se, but the accumulative effect of minor differences in habits, pace and interest. With that in mind, please consider the following before choosing your next travel buddy …
Partygoer VS early riser
Everybody has a different idea of how they like to ‘see’ a city. For some this means consuming as much alcohol as humanly possible and discovering the night scene. For others it is rising with the sun and spending the day exploring. While there is no right or wrong; that is the beauty of travel, you can run into difficulties if your body clocks prefer to be on different schedules.
Slow pace VS speedy pace
Frustrations can occur day to day if you constantly have to wait for that friend who somehow manages to take 2 hours to get themselves sorted in the morning. Alternatively there is nothing worse than someone who is rushing you around and not allowing you to appreciate at your own pace. After all, how much can you possibly enjoy speeding through tourist attractions like exactly that … a tourist.
Free spirit VS the planner
I typically am a very unorganized traveler. I find it hard to commit to a future activity in case something better comes along in the interim (can you say commitment issues?!). Therefore the stress of being with someone who prefers to have every last detail accounted for drives me a little stir crazy. Is there a correct way to travel? Absolutely not! But I definitely take into consideration whether or not a candidate travel buddy is able to travel to some extent in this manner.
Big spender VS budget traveler
Budget plays a huge role in your day to day choices while travelling. It is the difference between getting that 24 hours bus over the direct flight, cooking your own meals instead of eating out daily or choosing the hostel that looks more like a rape dungeon instead of the welcoming bed and breakfast across the street. There is far less discussion when two people are on the same page about what exactly they are able and willing to afford.
Introvert VS extrovert
The difference between introverts and extroverts was once described to me as follows; introverts are people who recharge by spending time alone, extroverts recharge by spending time with others. Most people tend to be extroverts. They crave and desire the company of others for the most part of the day. For people like myself who are introverts, travelling with other people or having people consistently around me (as bad as this sounds) makes me want to pull my hair out. I not only enjoy but need my own space … and preferably a lot of it! When introverts and extroverts travel together, they need to be able to understand this difference in desired quantity of human interaction.
More important than all of the above is choosing someone you know you can argue well with. An argument or disagreement is inevitable for anyone who chooses to travel long term with someone else. What you need is someone who you can be honest with, discuss the issue at hand, compromise and move forward with. You may have completely different budgets, pace, temperaments and interests but if you are able and willing to compromise and understand one another – you are ahead of most!
*Travel buddy, a person you travel with long term. Please note this is not a reference to a person you chose to go on a vacation with.