There are so many important factors that go into planning an international trip. Where should I go? What should I see? What should I pack? None of these questions are easy to answer, but arguably the most important factor to consider is who you will travel with. Your travel companion will be with you day in and day out – trying new experiences, eating new foods, and meeting new friends.
Sometimes this thought comes before buying your flight, sometimes you add some friends along the way, and sometimes you just prefer to travel solo. But whenever it does, it’s important to pick you travel buddy carefully. Follow these 6 steps to ensure your trip is one to remember!
STEP 1. DISCUSS YOUR BUDGET
The very first step to finding a compatible travel buddy is to plan out your budget. From hotels to hostels, budget to mid class airlines, comprehensive to standard insurance, your budget makes a HUGE difference in your travels. It’s very hard to travel with someone when you can’t agree on where to stay, where to eat, and what activities you want to do, so this is a very important thing to consider!
My recommendation is to pick a daily budget and try to stick to it throughout your trip. There can be wiggle room for some more expensive activities or a random splurge on a hotel room, but agreeing to a budget before the trip ensures your daily spending remains about the same.
STEP 2. AGREE ON COMMON INTERESTS
This step will depend heavily on the type of holiday you have planned, but if things like diving, hiking, skiing, partying until all hours of the night, etc. are must-do items for you, it’s a good idea to travel with someone who is on the same page. As an avid snorkeller and scuba diver, I love going to great spots for marine life with my family, who also have their scuba diving licenses. However, I grew up about 1500kms (or 1000miles) from the nearest ocean, so most of my old friends (and prospective travel buddies) do not share the same love of the sea. This can be a huge issue when I travel to beach-side destinations and spend long days scuba diving, so it’s important for me to consider what interests I have that I’d like to explore on my trip.
Make a list of activities that are top priorities, medium priorities, and things you usually hate to do. If these’s line up quite well with your travel buddy it’s safe to assume your daily activities will be the same!
There’s no need to assume that all of your interests will be the same, and you might even enjoy some days solo, but overall it’s great to understand how you both plan to structure your days.
STEP 3. FIND AN AGREEABLE PACE
Finding the right pace is particularly relevant for holidays where plans aren’t set in stone and flexibility is key. If you’re traveling with someone who wants to stay in one area and explore it in depth, but you want to travel to several different countries in half that time, it can be a bit of a sticking point. Some people prefer to sleep in, take each day slowly, and visit every corner of a place before leaving, whilst others might have shorter time frames or simply prefer being busy every moment.
Have a conversation about how much you want to accomplish each day, how quickly you plan to travel through each location, and how often you plan to relax.
STEP 4. BEWARE OF THE FEAR FACTOR
Fear and risk adversity is a big consideration when thinking about travelling with someone. As someone that had a childhood full of travel, mostly in Asia and Africa, I feel pretty comfortable living like a local in many underdeveloped places. However, I know many people who are uncomfortable washing their face with local water, getting into local taxis or going on tours that weren’t hosted by western operators. Whether you are a first-time traveller, an overly cautious female, or have no fears at all, it’s a good idea to travel with someone who compliments and cools your fears (or lack thereof).
Have a conversation about your biggest fears and how you either plan to overcome them or avoid them. Discuss how you can support one another along the way, especially when you are outside of your comfort zone. If these line up pretty well, you’ve found yourself a friend willing to tackle her fears in search for new strength!
STEP 5. CONSIDER YOUR FRIENDSHIP HISTORY
This sounds like an absolute no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t consider this. Think back on your friendship and remember some of your best and worst moments. What made your friendship so strong? Additionally, why did you fight and how did you resolve it?
If you and a friend have gotten into fights before over owing each other $10, it’s probably important to take a step back and consider your friendship chemistry. Yes, friendship chemistry. When you spend an entire holiday together, you must have the right kind of chemistry. All the little things that may annoy you about a friend at home, will be 200% more annoying when you are sharing everything from a bed to a bowl of fries.
You and your friend will inevitably get into arguments, and there’s no shame in that, so it’s essential to understand how you plan to resolve conflicts you will have abroad. Do you both need space to think about it, or do you want to talk through the issue and resolve it as fast as possible? Do you like to talk through your emotions, or take emotions out of the conflict to come to a quick solution? Whatever the answer is, it’s important to have it before deciding to travel together.
STEP 6. KEEP PERSONAL DETAILS IN MIND
From gender, relationship status, and age, to religion, languages, and mobility, personal details are often not deal-breakers, but they should be considered. These qualities seem like unusual things when choosing someone to travel with, but they can make a big difference. Females and males often have VERY different experiences when traveling abroad, and sometimes having a male companion can come as a huge advantage, as unfortunately females are often targets of unwanted attention. Additionally, your personal details & preferences can also greatly affect your expectations. If you are in a relationship and looking for a fun girls trip, but your friends are more interested in going out and dancing, you might regularly disagree on how to spend your nights.
Have a conversation beforehand on these personal details and discuss how they may or may not affect your trip.
Like most things, its hard to know before you try, but these 6 steps will give you a pretty comprehensive outlook on how compatible you and your potential travel buddy may be! Whoever you pick, and wherever you go, the best part is that you’re seeing the world, having new and life-changing experiences, and loving every second of your trip!
Do you have additional tips for picking the perfect travel companion? Please share your experience in the comments section below. Read Next > 12 Essential Tips for Solo Travelers