Anyone that has picked the wrong travel companion will know how easily one can turn into Jekyll and Hyde. You love your mate to bits and they make a fantastic drinking companion, but if you have to wait one more tedious minute while they’re getting ready in the morning, they might just find their straightening iron taking a trip out of the 6th floor window.
Having a fun travel buddy can turn a good trip into the most memorable experience. You share laughs and precious moments with them and then you can reminisce about it years down the track. However if your buddy is one that constantly irks you with bad habits, constant whinging, or just has a totally different idea of travel, you may end up spending half your time travelling in a rage or plotting an escape.
There are a few factors to consider when choosing the ideal partner for your travels, whether your trip is a weekend or a year away, domestic or around the world.
If you are happy to pay your way to travel in air-conditioned 5-star comfort with your bed sheets changed daily and your own shiny and clean bathroom with mini toiletries, don’t even consider planning a trip with a backpacker. Being able to tolerate the earth-shaking snoring or covert lovemaking of the fellow travellers in your dormitory is one thing (ear plugs and an eye mask are a must!), but do you fancy having to wear thongs (er, that would be flip flops) when showering in less-than-pristine shared showers?
Similarly, a backpacker is just simply not going to spend the money required to travel in the manner of a luxury traveller. Some travellers, like myself, prefer to skimp on the accommodation and first-class transportation so that they can spend more money on the fun activities and great food. Some people will also skimp on the food, living on bread and cheese for months so that they can blow all their travel funds on booze and drugs. If you want to travel in style and comfort, don’t travel with these people!
Some people travel to tick all the must-see boxes in their tourist checklist, while some people travel to just immerse themselves in the local culture. Others travel for specific activities, such as hiking, skiing, or diving, while others travel just to party hard with other travellers.
Most people’s travel plans will inevitably be a combination of these, but some travellers will tend to lean more towards one or two. It’s important to ascertain whether you and your potential companion have the same intentions, otherwise you may find yourself regularly wandering around museums or churches alone while they recover from their party hangover.
Personality quirks or habits
Everyone has strange quirks or habits, there’s no denying it. Whether it’s taking an eternity to get ready in the morning or needing to pee every hour or regularly crashing into a dorm room at 4am and turning all the lights on, will you be able to tolerate your companion’s annoying habits for the entirety of the trip? And will they be able to tolerate yours?
Arguably the most important factor to consider in a travel friend is the ability to sustain interesting conversation for the period of your trip. Whether your definition of “interesting conversation” is delving into the meaning of life or just talking endless inane crap, or somewhere in between, having someone to banter with will make a trip all the more enjoyable. Hopefully they will be someone who will cheer you up when that Israeli backpacker spurns your advances, or they will play “would you rather…” with you to while away a monotonous 6-hour bus journey.
And after you return, memories of your trip will feature in many more conversations to come!
Have you ever picked the wrong travel companion? What do you think are the essential qualities of a travel buddy?