How to pick a travel companion

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.

Girls drinking wine on a London bus

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.

Budget

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!

Activities

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?

Conversation

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?

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One thought on “How to pick a travel companion

  1. I planned a trip some years ago and was going solo, as I most often do. Then a friend asked if they could join me. I said “of course” but did point out that the only accomodation left available in town (as a festival was about to start) was either camping or one 300euro+/night hotel. On my meager nurses wage & having just moved to the UK, I pointed out that it would have to be camping for me. I left it in their court as to whether they still wanted to come. They said “sure” and came along.

    A day or so in they starting telling everyone that we met how much they dislike camping and they prefer to pamper themselves in a nice hotel. I bit my tongue (which is difficult for me) and carried on. Then around day four I had a suspicion something was up and returned to our tent to find, said travel partner packing their bag about to leave town. They weren’t even going to say goodbye! I said farewell (again biting my tongue before any further comment) and returned to the group of new friends we had made at the camp grounds. The whole group were even more upset than me that this person had left without even saying goodbye.

    We ran into each at the airport on the way back to London and I was told that I had been bad mouthing them about being a princess (which I honestly had not)…although the guys we met did nickname her that after she left. And I was told that I was ‘cheap’. Now, I am a huge fan of a bargain but I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as cheap just because I couldn’t afford a 300euro/night hotel.

    So that would be my worst choice of travel partner to date!

    Funnily enough I have not travelled with anyone since. I have met friends in places for a few days but the trips as a whole have been solo once more.

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