As far as picking traveling companions goes, I have been fortunate: my best friend and my husband are both wonderful travel companions. But on a recent trip, my husband and I traveled for about a week with some people we met along the way. While it worked out okay, by the time we parted ways I was happy to be back on our own. Between complaining about the host families accommodations and not being culturally sensitive about taking photos, I knew I had to start being a little bit more careful about who we travel with. Here are some tips for picking the best travel companions.
1. Match budgets and taste
Some people prefer luxury dining experiences and have high standards when it comes to where they lay their head. Others are more the camping and hunt-for-their-food type. Put the two on a trip together and, in no time, they’ll be arguing about where to stay and which restaurant to visit. Not only should travel companions have similar interests, they should also be in agreement about basic finances during the trip.
When I went to Europe for the first time with my best friend, we agreed that we were probably going to have make some sacrifices for our budget. It’s amazing how long you can survive on pretzels and Nutella!
2. Go with the flow — or not
Some travelers are a bit uptight, while others take a more laid-back approach to trip planning. If you fall into the latter category, traveling with someone who doesn’t may be frustrating — and vice versa. On the other hand, in could work out perfectly if one of you is a planner and the other doesn’t want to plan at all. Just make sure you and your travel companion are on the same page about the structure of your trip and who gets input into the planning process, and you’ll be good to go.
We all know that travel doesn’t always go as planned. Regardless of your travel style, be sure to pick people who will roll with the punches and stay positive regardless of what happens.
3. It’s best to have similar interests
If you are a shop ‘til you drop type and your travel companion loves the great outdoors, you may have trouble finding travel activities you’ll both enjoy. Be sure to travel with people who have similar interests — but remember that similar does not mean “exactly the same.” It can be great to travel with someone who pushes you to have new and exciting experiences while traveling. If you’re traveling with someone who’s passionate about music, they may seek out the local music scene and you may get to experience parts of culture you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
4. Daily routines matter
Are you an earlier riser who tucks in early or a night owl who parties all night? If you’re up at the crack of dawn, a travel companion who sleeps until noon won’t be a good match for you. Chances are you’ll be up, showered, and ready to go — and they will just be rolling out of bed. On the other hand, if you’re just gearing up for a night on the town and your travel companion is already yawning, you probably aren’t compatible. Even if you don’t have the same daily routine at home, you can make it work on your trip; if you can agree to a general schedule before you leave, you can prevent a lot of frustration during the trip.
5. Your best friend may not make the best travel companion
Even if you’re great friends at home, you won’t necessarily be compatible travel companions. Traveling with someone is like being their short-term roommate — and we all know those people who were best friends until they shared an apartment or a dorm room. On the road, you’ll be spending a lot of time together, often even more time than you spend with your significant other. If you’re not sure you can spend 24 hours a day with your best friend, it may be time to consider other travel companions.
6. Tours vs. DIY travel
Some people prefer traveling as part of a tour. They love picking a trip and not having to do most of the planning. For others, the planning is half of the fun. They love doing hours of research before a big trip, figuring out the best places to stay, and where to visit. If you are a big fan of all-inclusive tours, you may not like traveling with those who are a bit more DIY when it comes to travel. What’s your style?
How do you pick who you travel with? Who are your favorite travel companions?