This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.
A quick introductory note – When I began authoring VirtualWayfarer in July of 2007 I never expected that I’d still be blogging on travel, adventures, study abroad and everything that goes with it nearly five years later. Over the years I’ve had a lot of questions and luckily my friends, network, and more than a few random strangers have gone well out of their way to answer those questions. While I still find myself asking questions on a regular basis I’ve found that I can also pay it forward as a resource for friends, my readers, and strangers alike. In an effort to share what I’ve learned from my various adventures I’ve launched Travel Question Wednesdays. I’ll be answering one reader-submitted question every week. You are all encouraged to submit, and all past questions will be archived and available as a resource for readers of this blog. I’m going to take a very open approach to the topics I’ll cover, so feel free to ask me just about anything , just keep it somewhat travel related.
This week’s travel question is from Greg L. he asks,
Q. “What do you look for in travel partners? In other words, how can you gauge travel compatibility with people before the trip?”
A. This is a great question and one which a lot of people tend to overlook. Especially those eager to travel, but uncomfortable, unwilling or uninterested in travelling solo. It’s no easy task to find a friend to travel with. There are conflicting schedules, budgetary conflicts, personal events, destination preferences, commitment issues etc. that inevitably come up and hinder the process. Even something as simple as dietary differences and preferences is important. Picking a good travel partner is a lot like picking a good roommate. Only, instead of having an apartment which you’ll be sharing while going about your daily lives, you’ll likely be spending 95%+ of each day together for at least week and often much longer. Over the course of that time you will both be in a wide variety of emotional states – tired, sleepy, nervous, jet-lagged, excited, happy, whimsical, stressed – take your pick. Depending on the length of your trip this can be difficult, even with someone you really like and are a great match with.
Picking the wrong travel partner can not only ruin a wonderful trip and destination, it can also lead to resentment and frustrations which can sabotage otherwise great friendships. On the flip side some places are just better when experienced with someone else. When it works and you find a great travel partner it can strengthen your relationship significantly and result in incredibly rewarding shared experiences. So much so that I’ll definitely be using an extended trip (at least one month) with a future significant other as a way to both strengthen, and explore my relationship before marriage becomes a possibility.
I recently wrote a post that is dedicated to answering this very question in depth and provides six key factors to take into consideration when picking a travel partner. You can view it here: How to Pick a Travel Partner and Avoid Killing Them.
At the end of the day keep in mind that travel is a significant emotional, time, and experience investment. As a result it is very important that you’re not only honest with yourself about what you expect out of the trip and how your relationship is with your potential travel partners. It also requires that you’re honest with yourself about how you behave, and engage with people, the type of individual you are, and where you are in your evolution as a traveler.
Greg, I hope this information helps and thank you for a fantastic question. Safe travels and open roads!