Traveling alone is very rewarding, but it can also be lonely and at times frankly terrifying. It’s not for everyone. Those who don’t feel quite up to traveling alone often look to friends, family, and acquaintances to accompany them on their adventures, but choosing travel partners is dicey business, to be undertaken with care. Choosing the wrong person to travel with can ruin a trip just as easily as choosing the right person can make a trip wonderful. So what exactly should one look for in a travel partner who’ll make a trip memorable (in the good way)?
For starters, it’s important to know what you want, what you are like when you travel, and what sort of experience you’re looking for. How can you choose a travel buddy who meshes with you if you don’t know what you yourself are like? Spend some time with a guidebook. Find the kind of things you want to see and do, find the kind of places you want to stay in, the kind of restaurants you would like to eat in. Get an idea of how much it will cost and how much time it will take. Present prospective travel partners with your ideas. If they get excited by the aspects of the environment that excite you, you’re off to a great start.
How exactly do you want to experience these other places? If you’re like us and love to walk everywhere to get a feel for the foreign place, but you travel with someone who loves bus tours, your trip experience will probably be full of tension. Find likeminded people to travel with. Find people who are looking for the same sort of experiences you are. Be it the dive bar scene or the hotel pool scene, it’s important that everyone on the trip be on a similar wavelength. If you can find people to travel with you who measure the worth of their experiences on the same metric that you do, you’ll feed off of each other’s energy and curiosity and your trip will be that much more rewarding.
Remember, though, that travel isn’t all fun, it’s not all sights and sounds; it can be stressful. How do you react to the stress of missing a late night bus in a country where you don’t speak the language? How will your partner? It’s important that your traveling companion(s) be on the same page when it comes to less than ideal circumstances because it is often in these difficult moments that the best travel memories are formed. When your group is tired and worn by miles, when they’re hungry and dirty, they will be at their rawest, least filtered. If everyone in the group isn’t working toward the same experiential goals, with the same attitude (whatever it is), the tension in the group will make for less than ideal circumstances.
All in all, it’s fun to travel with others. While the freedom of being alone is alluring, there’s just something special about seeing new and amazing sights and being able to turn to the person next to you, who fought the same battles against miscommunication, misunderstanding, miles and elements to be with you, and say “Wow, look at that!”