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5 Tips To Evaluate Whether A Friend Is A Good Travel Partner

Maria Olsen January 2023

Positive Aging Thought Leader: Maria Olsen

Sometimes, sharing the world’s wonders with a travel partner can make for a more satisfying travel experience than going somewhere solo. Should you go with a friend?

Friend As A Travel Partner:

Sometimes, however, a friend—even a close friend—is not well-suited to be a travel buddy.

My best friend likes to stay in five-star hotels. I prefer staying in less touristy establishments so that I can gain a better understanding of the local culture. We still travel together occasionally. I just know that trips with this friend will be of a certain flavor.

“It is helpful to collaborate on plans, of course, but having someone get the wheel moving is necessary.”

1. Discuss Expectations:

I love planning trips. Half the fun is in the planning for me. Others do not share this particular task as joyful. It is helpful to collaborate on plans, of course, but having someone get the wheel moving is necessary.

Sharing information and getting others on board before putting any money down is imperative. Give your travel companion agency over the plan. Share ideas online so you each can see the details and costs involved. Ensure that you want the same things out of the experience.  

Travel Partner Compatibility:

2. Determine If You Have Generally Similar Schedules:

It would not likely be fulfilling for a night owl partier to travel with an early-to-bed/early-to-rise sort of companion. I had a nightmarish experience with one friend who asked to come along on a backpacking trip with me. She had never used a travel backpack before and, I learned, had only frequented posh destinations. For a two-month trip, she lasted with me only two days, then booked a trip to the Club Med in Bali.

We had not sufficiently discussed what we wanted out of the trip. I learned an important lesson from that experience.

It may be prudent to take an overnight or weekend trip with someone before committing to something lengthier. This will give you a better idea about your compatibility.

Discuss Expectations:

3. Talk Budget:

It is not fun to discuss money, but doing so may save headaches later. It is helpful to discuss expectations around how much money will be spent. For instance, discuss how often you will eat out, if any meals will be prepared in the apartment, and whether dining out be fancy events. When I travel, I often have a late breakfast and late dinner. Two meals is more economical than three, and gives me more time to tour during the daylight hours.

“Ensure that your partner is on board with that plan before securing reservations.”

I do like to splurge on the best restaurant in a given town for one night. Ensure that your partner is on board with that plan before securing reservations.

I have had the most success on reconciling expenses using the app, Splitwise. My friend and I take turns paying for things and just enter the expense and description on the app. The app determines who owes whom and the amount at the end of the trip.

Traveling Together:

4 Give Each Other A Little Space:

Being with someone 24 hours a day can be wearisome. We are all imperfect humans. Take a solo walk occasionally, get a massage, or go alone to get coffee to give each other a break from constant companionship.  

Breaks allow each of your to reflect on your experiences, as well as to recoup one’s energy reserves. I like to walk around neighborhoods I visit to get a better feel for how the locals live, as well as to discover off-the-beaten-path offerings. I do not mind doing this alone.

If you are worried about safety, spend your solo time during daylight hours. Consider using friend-finding apps with your partner so you can keep track of one another.

5. Be Considerate Of Your Travel Partner:

Most of us are used to our own routines. Traveling together successfully requires cooperation.

“Traveling together successfully requires cooperation.”

For example, make yourself aware of your friend’s food preferences. If your buddy is not a big red meat eater, for instance, don’t suggest an Argentinian steakhouse. If you crave that, suggest one night of solo eating to satisfy your inner carnivore.

Be aware of your travel companion’s allergies and his or her wishes in emergency situations. It is helpful to keep photos in each other’s phones of both of your passports, in case of any mishaps.

One of my favorite travel buddies likes to shower in the evenings, and I am a morning showerer. This works well for us, especially in locations in which hot water is scarce. It is worthwhile to understand your potential travel friend’s preferences before setting out on any lengthy journeys.

Happy Times:

I take care to keep my belongings contained in our room, and to take only half of any bathroom counters or closets. Staying organized helps everyone keep track of their belongings, and not being a space hog is always appreciated.

One of my flaws is that I sometimes snore. So, I keep an extra set of earplugs in my luggage and offer them to anyone with whom I am sharing a room. I also am a frequent social media poster. Having a sense for whether your travel companion desires privacy online is important.

Of course, sharing good experiences magnifies joy. Increase the likelihood of happy times by ensuring that you each are on the same page. Missed expectations breed resentments, so clarify them before you set out on a trip with a friend. Clear communication is key to a successful experience, especially while traveling and spending a lot of time with another person.

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Maria Olsen

About the Author:

Maria Leonard Olsen is an attorney, author, radio show and podcast host in the Washington, D.C., area. For more information about her work, see www.MariaLeonardOlsen.com and follow her on social media at @fiftyafter50. Her latest book, 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life, which has served as a vehicle for helping thousands of women reinvigorate their lives, is offered for sale on this website.

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