A great travel buddy can help make your trip fantastic, providing more than just a bit of company and somebody to share the experience with. But while finding a travel buddy might be easy – knowing how to choose the right one isn’t so simple.
Imagine this: You’ve been on a bus for 14 hours, and for at least 5 you were at a standstill. Nobody speaks English, it’s long after dark, you’re cold, wet and so hungry you could eat the straps off your backpack. You get to your hostel to find your booking has been taken by somebody who wasn’t sitting on a bus for 14 hours and there’s no beds left.
Does your buddy:
- Curse, swear and threaten the reception staff even though there are no beds?
- Slump into a corner with a glazed expression, exuding an aura of hopelessness?
- Storm off in a huff and not speak to you for a few hours until you’ve resolved the situation?
- Start looking around for a spot where you can hunker down and examine your options together?
If you chose 1, 2 or 3 – I’m so sorry, you deserve better, and you need to know how to choose a better travel buddy than the one you’ve previously been saddled with. If you chose 4 – don’t change a thing. You’ve hit the jackpot.
Friends to Enemies
Travel places stresses on a relationship not seen in any other part of normal life. It’s a mistake to think that your best friend – or even your partner – will automatically make a great travel buddy. In fact, you could start off as friends and within a few weeks, never want to see each other again. Which is why it’s so important to understand what makes a good travel buddy and how to find one.
Having the wrong travel buddy is a little like having your favourite sweater peed on by your mother-in-law’s yappy little dog. You’re horrified at how something you love is being ruined – but you’re forced to stay completely silent because if you don’t, your whole trip can be screwed.
A bad travel buddy might lie, cheat or steal from you. They might say they’ll make arrangements but they never follow through. They’ll borrow money but lose track and never pay it back. Worst of all, a bad travel buddy will be unreliable – something you simply can’t afford when you travel.
On the other hand, a great travel buddy isn’t just somebody you can trust, but someone who carries their own weight along with their own luggage. If you split tasks, you can be sure they’ll do their fare share. You can leave your pack with them while you find a bathroom, or hand you their last two paracetamol when you develop a cracking headache.
A good travel buddy will provide assistance, friendship and support. You’re a team, and it’s amazing how a good travel partnership can genuinely enhance a trip.
Qualities to look for in a great travel buddy
- Drama-free. Doesn’t fly off the handle or get despondent when things get bumpy. You need to be firing on all thrusters – not having to calm down your buddy before you can make important decisions.
- Reliable, trustworthy, won’t desert you the moment it suits them.
- Is not inclined to boosts of ego or violence – towards you or anyone else.
- Is organised – so you’re not constantly waiting for them.
- Has their own money that they can manage properly.
Tips for finding a great travel buddy
- Be able to talk, laugh and get along. You’re going to be with this person for untold hours – it will enhance your trip greatly if you can have fun with your buddy as well.
- Have a similar goal or idea of what you’re doing and why. If you want to hike as much as you can while you travel through Italy, it’s no good if your buddy wants to spend their time in cafes and museums.
- Discuss and agree to regular time away from each other. Even the very BFFs need a few hours apart. It’ll keep your relationship strong.
- Discuss what kind of travel you’re going to be doing – budget, mid-range etc, and then plan for it. It’s essential do this up front to avoid arguments and dissention later.
- Meet up face to face and talk before you decide to travel together.
- Once you have decided, do a road test trip first – 2-3 days is best. If you can’t handle a weekend together, going longer isn’t going to improve things.
When you find the right person/people to travel with, your trip becomes special for a whole new reason, and you stand to make what might become life-long friends.
And of course, you should always make sure that you are also a great travel buddy. 🙂
Truck photo courtesy of Karen Mitchell.
Finding a Travel Buddy
These are a few of the sites where you can find a buddy with similar travel plans. However, none of them provide advice on how to choose.
TripTogether is a subscription site
Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum has a section for finding travel companions
HereToMeet is a social app for meeting people either before you travel or while you’re on the road