I started traveling in 2014 and luckily, I have not encountered horrible travel partners. I’ve heard the stories though!
Finding a good travel partner is hard. Sometimes, your friend is a fellow traveler and you get excited. You book plane tickets together, plan an itinerary together, and finally go to the country together.
That’s when things start falling apart. She didn’t realize you eat for 2 hours at a restaurant, wasting her travel time. Or you didn’t realize she doesn’t have international data, forcing you to go to every WiFi hotspot.
The key is to be aware that your best friend, just like in college when you found out that she’s a horrible roommate, may not be a good travel partner.
You don’t need to find someone with similar interests, but you do need to set expectations.
Before your trip, you should really share your itinerary – way before your trip. Open communication is key. I find that planning and preparedness when traveling with someone helps a lot, even if you have known that person for years. Include budgets because they may not share the same budget as you, even if that $1 extra means nothing to you, it may mean a lot to them.
Being flexible is also very important. Yes, plan ahead and set loose guidelines, but things don’t always go as planned. I remember going to Florence and there were no trains heading to Venice because of Italian Labor Day. My travel partner looked for every method possible, while I kept refreshing the ticket booth looking for canceled tickets. This kind of flexibility helped us get through that tough time together with no issues.
It’s okay to do things separately. We’re all adults. It’s okay that they visit the Louvre and you check out a cafe. You can meet up later for a show or dinner. It’s okay to split up. Stay safe, share emergency contacts, and set a hard meet up time for later. You will enjoy your time apart as much as your time together.
Pack light, both of you. The stress of having to deal with your friend’s 100 luggages and waiting at baggage claim, while you packed lightly with a carry on and you’re ready to go. This sets the tone of the trip the moment you get off the plane. If that person has lots of luggage, needs a cab, and needs someone to carry those bags up and down the stairs for them, they can stress both of you out before you even made it to the hotel. Please be considerate and the both of you can pack lightly together. If you can’t figure out how to pack lightly with a travel buddy, then maybe you should only be traveling with a significant other who can put up with that or with family.
Finally, be a friend. Yes, traveling is fun and you’ve wanted to go to Paris for years. But, that doesn’t mean your friend didn’t either. Let that person do some of their activities and appreciate their time spent with you. Each trip is a memory for a lifetime, let it be about the other person for a few moments. Don’t try a hostile takeover of the trip and barrel your agenda through. Your friend will not have fun and you will have focused all your energy on doing what you wanted to do. Your friend also spent time and money on this trip!
I hope these few words of advice can help you when picking a travel partner! It’s hard to find a good one, but once you have, you’ll have a travel partner for life.