I have traveled solo one time. One amazing, wonderful time.
While it was a magical, liberating experience, I am not the most social bird in the hostel. Meaning I spent my entire time in Munich alone- browsing the parks alone, sipping gluhwien alone, boarding trains by myself.
My memories from my time spent by myself are amazing, however, I have no one to share those memories with. To me, having a travel partner whom you can look back on the ridiculous mistakes you make, mishaps in translation and laugh with makes a trip just that much more ideal.
Picking a travel partner can be an ordeal in itself. I have successfully picked amazing travel partners in the past and wouldn’t trade them for the world! How did I know we would mesh well under stress, smelling of airplanes, and eating strange foods? The wrong travel partner, and you can spend your entire trip resenting your decision to invite them, ruin your friendship, and ruin your trip. We all know that these things are not an option, so here are my tips for picking an amazing travel partner!
Does your candidate fit into your lifestyle?
When you have spent months planning your dream vacation, there can be nothing worse than arriving at your destination and realizing your travel partner wants nothing to do with your plans. You want to go hiking, they want to go shopping. You want to visit a museum, that want to go to the club. While it is, of course, completely possible to be flexible if you aren’t perfectly in sync together, you do not want to spend your entire trip feeling like the awkward turtle in the corner of the club because you never learned how to properly throw your hands in the air.
I met Abigail while working at an outdoor retail store, so I knew already that we enjoyed the same activities. Abigail loves the outdoors and fitness, and I love exploring cities by foot. Together, we braced against the weather and set out on foot through Iceland and Amsterdam in a chilly November. We saw everything we wanted to see, agreed on every activity we did, and though our trip was completely crazy, we came back home instantly planning our next journey together.
Your travel partner should be an encouraging person.
It’s no joke that travel can be very stressful. Don’t believe me? Try being stuck in line at the bus stop waiting for the only bus to the airport and possibly not being able to grab a seat due to the seat to passenger ratio. Try finally getting to the airport and standing so far back in line at security that from the time they announce the last boarding for your flight until the moment you actually reach security, twenty minutes has passed. And then imagine the final relief when you realize that the plane is delayed after all, because only half of the passengers had made it to the gate on time.
Having someone by your side to keep you upbeat and encouraged is such an important factor. Have someone standing beside you, also freaking out, but able to say “If we miss our flight, that’s okay. We can catch another flight, or we can just change our plans and find something else to do. It’s not the end of the world!”
Your travel partner should share your sleep schedule.
My husband, bless his heart, loves waking up at 4 a.m. Why? I have no idea. At all. He is an enigma. When we travel, thank goodness, he adjusts his sleep schedule. If he didn’t make this change, he would be waking up super early on our travels, and being exhausted way earlier than myself. This should completely turn our beautifully planned days into short, clipped, quick blurs we won’t be able to remember.
Find someone who shares your sleep schedule or can adjust it. Travel is no fun if you are exhausted, your friend is sleeping until noon each day, or you are both stressed from trying to fit it all in quickly. Be sure your travel partner understands how to beat jetlag (see this post) to instantly start making the most of your great adventure!
Is your travel partner flexible?
This plays a bit off number 1. Find a flexible partner! Sometimes things, no matter how planned, go awry. Your hostel lost your reservation, the concert you wanted to attend is sold out, the restaurant you have drooled over is full, you lost your train ticket, you missed your flight, etc.
Enjoy being flexible and understand that sometimes, things just don’t go as planned, and you and your travel partner will have that more of an enjoyable time.
When I traveled with my friend, Krystal, we had the most amazing time! It was her first time abroad, so she wanted to see everything and yet nothing in particular, and her flexibility was amazing. I created a general itinerary for us, and then day-by-day we adjusted it to fit the weather, fit any more sites we wanted to visit, and to scratch out things we had managed to already see. Our schedule was constantly changing, we nearly missed three different and very stressful flights, yet we had the time of our lives together.
Sometimes, you just need to find a group of like-minded, awesome people to spend the day searching the forest for ponies with. This was seriously one of the best days ever, and it was only able to happen because we were all flexible.
Are they financially stable?
This may seem like a huge ‘duh’, however, it is a huge point! When traveling, you don’t want to be worried about whether your friend will be constantly sticking their hand out for money to cover meals and tours. Be sure your travel partner has enough money to cover their half of the trip without needing any help. You also will find yourself a lot happier down the line when you can spare the resentful feelings towards your friend’s borrowed money. Additionally, you can find yourself in a sudden, money-less, rut when you are faced with unexpected expenses on the trip. Unless you are gifting the trip to your travel partner, be sure they know the estimated cost, plus have extra on hand.
Though travel can be an exhausting, stressful experience, it is also completely magical. To quote an unknown individual, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” How true that is!
Take your best travel friend along and enjoy the ride, making amazing, rich, memories together!
How do you pick your travel partners? Share your ways below!