I was 26 when I got the feeling: I wanted to share my travel experiences with someone! I was flying from the United States to Turkey, where I would meet up with a friend a few days later. But as I was facing an 11 hour flight, I thought how nice it would be to share it with someone—the excitement, the struggle, the new experiences, the long flights, etc. This was totally new to me. I’d been traveling solo since I was 20 and thought I’d never look back, but then there I was, wishing I had someone with me.
By now I’ve traveled solo, with family, with friends, and with people who are no longer my friends! Here are the top things to talk about before you choose a travel buddy!
Do They Snore?
Do you need to bring earplugs? Does your travel buddy need to bring earplugs? This is something that needs to be disclosed before you travel with someone if you’ll be sharing a room! The tricky part is that snorers don’t usually know that they snore unless someone tells them, so ask their family or spouse!
Are They Messy or Neat?
Again, this is mostly only important if you’re sharing a room or living space on travel. If one of you is messy and the other is neat, at least one of you will find the other highly irritating! But if you know that about each other going in, you can make a couple of ground rules (your side/my side; please don’t leave out _______ because it drives me nuts; etc.) or you can at least be prepared to deal with the differences!
Read on: Travel Planning
Spender or Saver?
This one is very important, no matter where you travel or with whom you travel. It’s also a personal topic, but one that really needs to be discussed beforehand. This will be a factor in where you stay, how you travel (air, train, bus, taxis, walking), and, to a lesser extent, what you do.
It’s easy enough to just go even-stevens so everyone pays their own equal share. But if you’re a spender traveling with a saver, you may just need to offer to pay more if you really want to stay in a nice place and your travel partner or partners don’t want to spend so much money on a place to sleep.
And for activities, it’s ok if not everyone wants to visit every museum. It’s ok if you want spend $100 to get up early for a hot-air balloon ride and your friends prefer to sleep in for free. It’s ok if you want to go out to eat at a nice place and your friend wants to get take-out and have an early night. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, but you should definitely all get to do the things that are worth spending money to do!
Read on: Dining Solo and Strategic Splurging
Morning Person or Night Person?
This one can be a real cause for contention unless you make a bit of a plan in advance. For instance, I like to get up early and run or see some sights to get photos with few or no people in them. But that means by 7:00pm, I want to be snug in my bed! So if I’m traveling with a night person, I try to be as quiet and respectful of their sleep time as possible, and I psych myself up to a couple of later dinners if they just can’t fathom eating as early as 5:00pm! We can all compromise!
Independent or Not?
Remember that you DO NOT have to always do the same activities! Sometimes it works out best for travel companions to go their separate ways and then come together to share stories at dinner time!
Read on: Reasons to Travel with Others
Are There Food Issues?
Food is so integrated into culture and life, it’s the one thing you will be exposed to and never be able to avoid no matter where you go! But each and every body is different, so these should all be discussed before traveling together.
Food allergies can be very mild, or they can be a life-or death situation, so this definitely needs to be discussed before you agree to travel with someone. This can get tricky in a country that speaks a different language, so make sure everyone in the group knows the local word for the allergen. It could also be helpful if at least one other person in the group knows how to administer help, such as how to use an epipen or how to do CPR. My friends who have allergies take full responsibility for them, and I often forget or don’t realize that a food allergen is around, but I do try to be very flexible about where we eat, since it is definitely more important for the person with the allergy!
My friend Andrea is not allergic to tomatoes, but the texture and taste are gross to her. My husband is not allergic to cucumbers, but they make him feel sick to his stomach. I’m not allergic to olive oil, but in large quantities it makes me sick to my stomach. Aversions like this are usually pretty easy to work around, bit if you and your travel buddy (or buddies) will be sharing food, it’s good to keep these in mind! And sometimes aversions can work in your favor: if Steve and I get salads with cucumber and olives, I take his cucumbers and graciously give him my olives!
Preferences are the easiest to accommodate because there are no repercussions, just like or dislike. I’m not a picky eater, but I do not like crunchy foods. Some people don’t like cheese, others don’t like nuts, and still others just don’t prefer kale.
Some preferences like veganism, vegetarianism, or gluten-free diets are harder to accommodate, but people with those types of preferences can definitely find something to eat at just about any restaurant in the world.
Read on: How to Plan Travel with a Group
Fast-paced or Slow and Easy-going?
Are you a go-go-go traveler who wants to see everything and stay somewhere else every night? Or do you prefer slowing down to enjoy the experience and living in one place like a local? Which does your travel partner prefer? Hopefully this will be apparent in the planning phase so you can work it out before you travel, but no matter what, you should definitely discuss it!
Can You Trade Clothes?
If so, you have both just doubled your outfit options! If not, no big deal.
Read on: Packing Strategies
Who is Driving?
I don’t like to drive, but I feel very strongly about pulling my own weight and sharing responsibilities. However, if I find a travel partner who actually WANTS to drive the whole time, I will happily split the car rental cost and pay 100% of the gas for the trip! Talk about this before you travel so you know the expectation. It might work out really well for you!
Read on: Tips for Driving on the Left
I hope all these tips make your next trip with friends or family a fun and adventurous success! Any thoughts? Comment below! And for all my trip planning resources, check out my Travel Planning Page!
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