Taking a trip with a friend can be one of the most amazing and exhilarating experiences. After all, you get to immerse yourself in new cultures and new surroundings with one of the people you love most. However, just because the two of you are inseparable in your daily lives doesn’t necessarily mean your idealistic plans abroad will be smooth sailing (literally). There are certain qualities a person must have to be an effective and optimistic travel buddy. If the two of you meet these compatibility standards, then you better pack up those bags and find your passports, you’re ready to fly off into the sunset.
Every trip is full of unforeseen circumstances. There should be fine print on the reverse side of your boarding pass stating ‘Your trip will not go according to plan, but that’s okay.’ A missed flight, a hotel mishap, or perhaps having to share a bunk bed with some interesting folks at your hostel. It is extremely important to have someone who can go with the flow and allow for a change of plans. After all, the moments you aren’t expecting are the ones you’ll end up laughing over years later.
When our last flight home was canceled due to a surprise thunderstorm, my best bud and I still recall how the most memorable part of our trip abroad was renting a car and loading up on cinnamon sugar pretzels to fuel us on the five hour drive home. It is surprisingly likely that there will be some disruption to your agenda, but if you can both allow for these adjustments, your trip will run much smoother even if it’s not what you anticipated.
Keep An Open-Mind
There is only so much you can plan for. You won’t find out about many of the spontaneous adventures until you interact with the natives. Maybe you didn’t plan on cliff jumping at the scenic waterfalls or spending an afternoon on the back of a moped with the locals, but a part of truly investing yourself in your new environment is embracing the unexpected and enjoying every minute of it (as long as you keep your safety whistle close by, let’s be smart here). We would have missed out on an incredible hike through the rainforest had it not been for a side comment from a waiter we met the night before about a tour that wasn’t printed in the tourist books. If we had decided to just stick to our plans, we would have missed out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Accountable for Planning and Organizing
While over-planning can be a bore and inhibit any impromptu endeavors, a general consensus of what is on your must-do list should be decided upon in advance. Planning a vacation is half the fun…as long as both parties are involved. Make sure your friend is willing to do the research to guarantee that you will spend your limited amount of time abroad on the most noteworthy attractions. When you’re both actively preparing for your trip, either by learning some of the language or becoming familiar with nearby amenities, it’ll allow you to seamlessly immerse yourself into the trip without worrying that one of you is just passively tagging along for the ride.
Exhibit Varying Strengths
It helps to journey abroad with someone who balances out your strengths and weaknesses. While I’m great at reading maps and getting around new cities, I suddenly become a lost puppy in an overwhelming airport. By traveling with someone who can compensate for the areas you have limited knowledge in, the trip will become much easier. Splitting up stressful situations allows you each to handle what you’re better prepared for.
Share Similar Interests, But Be Willing To Compromise
It’s best to talk about your ideals before you board the plane. If one of you plans to party until the wee hours of the mornings while the other has you booked for an 8am tour of the cathedrals, your conflict of interest will make you both tired, irritable and cranky. Talk ahead of time about what kind of experiences you want and how it’s possible to incorporate both of your interests into one trip. Compromise by going bar hopping one night and then spending the next day at an early afternoon tour of the infamous gardens. You’ll both get to experience the cultures in a way you want to, and even have the chance to learn more from a different point of view.
Have A Sense Of Humor
When you spend every minute of the day with your travel buddy, comical scenarios are sure to ensue. My traveling companion and I both ended up with food poisoning on the last day of our trip and spent the rest of our vacation throwing up between tanning sessions on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean islands. While in many cases these circumstances could have truly dampened our experience, we found it so hilarious that it ended up being one of our most bonding experiences to date. You may find yourself in some compromising situations, but as long as you can laugh along with the ridiculousness of it, your trip is sure to be worth while.
Prepare For The Addiction
You’ll know you’ve met your excursion soul-mate if you’re already talking about your next trip while on the return flight of your most recent exploration. If you’re sending each other brochures and pictures of distant cities, then you’re a match made in airport heaven. You best start saving those pay checks and getting ready for your next adventure, the travel bug has no known cure. Bon voyage!