How You Know You’ve Found The Perfect Travel Buddy

I spend more energy and time picking the Perfect Travel Buddy than most people spend on picking their spouse. How do I know this? Because I’m still with my Travel Buddy and a lot of people are divorced. You do the math.

When I say “with” my Travel Buddy, I mean on vacation to Paris. Or Greece. Or Nicaragua. Or Tokyo. We have standing plans to visit the world at least once every year, no matter how far away from each other we are, and so far, it’s really worked out.

We started small, heading to California to experience Los Angeles and Palm Springs (we did a crazy night in Vegas, but that’s a story for a different time), and we grew to take on the bigger trips like Paris, Rome, and London. This next year we expect to take on Asia—and the world better be ready for us.

But the key to our relationship is a hard one to find in someone—it doesn’t come around very often—and the secret is in how well we work together even when we’re tired and don’t want to work anymore at all. I’ve had a couple of bad travel buddies, so it took a while to find one that fit, and you’ve got to look for certain aspects.

  1. Find common ground. Similarities are one thing, and carbon copies are another. You want to get along with your friend, but you also want to be different enough so the conversation doesn’t die out (it’s my worst fear). With Carson, we went to school together and studied similar subjects so we’ve got plenty in common. But she’s a little more rocker chic, and I’m a little more chilled out. It’s good for both of us.
  2. Have similar lifestyles. Friends who differ greatly in the hours they want to be awake or the way they take their breakfast, or which side of the bed they sleep on, can really get annoying when everyone is tired from traveling. I like to get coffee in the morning, early, but not too early, so the fact that Carson doesn’t mind being out of the house by 9:30 is perfect; she’s not grumpy at waking up, and I’m not grumpy from feeling like I wasted the day.
  3. Enjoy doing activities together. Even though you’ve got friends you really get along with, it doesn’t mean you’ll be great travel buddies. You need more than that to mesh; you also need to enjoy the same things. People who like museums should hang with people who like museums, that way you aren’t boring the discotheque party girl by taking her to the Louvre. It seems like you could be flexible if they were flexible, but you have to be a little selfish and get what you want out of your own vacation, and the easiest way to do that is by tagging along with someone who wants the same things too.
  4. Don’t be willing to give more than they are. This is a hard one to foresee, but if you know you’re the one in the relationship giving 90%, don’t travel with that person. It’s not bad being the one who gives more, but if you want to preserve the relationship, don’t take that person on vacation. It’s the selfish thing cropping up again; you’re also travelling, you’re also going to be tired, and you also deserve to have a good time and wait on someone hand and foot.
  5. Don’t both be upset at the same time. The greatest thing about Carson was how well she managed my freak out when we were almost late for our international flight back home last year. She told me later she was freaking out as well, but the fact that I was more vocal about it calmed her nerves, and in turn calmed mine. It was vice versa when we made last minute travel plans and I had to book us a train to a new destination a day before we were leaving. Carson freaked, I stayed cool. It meant we didn’t freak out on each other, and instead just had a great time.

Now I knew that Carson would be a great buddy not because we were friends before, but also because we had once worked together. It meant that we knew each other signals for stress, when we’d had too much pressure, and when we could push ourselves a little more, either to hike that last one hundred feet to Kilimanjaro or to hang in there for one hundred more seconds in line at airport security check. That’s the sign of a good partnership, and to steal the words from a very famous mouth, it looks like this is the beginning of a beautiful (travel) friendship.

One Comment on “How You Know You’ve Found The Perfect Travel Buddy

  1. Pingback: Head Elsewhere | How to Enjoy Madrid on a Budget

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