The opportunity to take an around the world, long term backpacking trip is one that usually comes once in a lifetime [if you’re lucky]. Maybe it’s in-between highschool to college, or it’s after you’ve been saving up at the corporate job for a few years. Either way, it’s all the more reason to make sure that whoever you go with, is on the same page as you. While you will definitely make compromises with your travel partner, for the most part, your idea of a successful trip should be aligned.
We’ve heard quite the horror stories of travel partners gone wrong. Kind of like those stories you hear of two best friends trying to live together, but it turns out to be a total disaster. Since there’s nothing worse than showing up halfway around the world to realize you don’t actually get along with your travel mate, here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about taking off with your bff on your next trip:
When you’re roaming the streets and you’re stoked about the $1 street noodles in front of your face, but your travel partner is oogling the latest Michelin-rate spot, it’s about to get awkward. While it’s good to have balance, and challenge one another, constantly negotiating your finances can leave you two with some tension in the air. Honestly, not seeing eye to eye on budget will probably make you feel resentful and frustrated. After all, it’s your hard earned cash money holla for a dolla, and you should spend it just how you intend.
With that said, there are some important questions you can ask each other before takeoff:
For me, I don’t give a shit where I sleep, but I’ll pay that extra bit to make my transportation a little bit less miserable. Yeah, I paid $50 extra bucks for the flight that skipped a 36 hour bus ride. It would have been a really rough day and a half if my travel bud wasn’t on board with that decision.
Whether or not it’s obvious, you most likely have an intention for the trip you’re about to take. Are you trying to challenge yourself physically? Do you want to learn how to surf? Are you looking for cultural immersion and language lessons? Whatever that intention is, it needs to be in line with whoever you are traveling with. Coercing someone who wants to lounge on the beach into a 4 day camping trip inside a volcano can get pretty hairy, pretty damn fast. Not to mention, unfair to both of you.
Questions to ask each other before you go:
When I was traveling with my BFF for 5 months, we split up on 3 different occasions because we wanted to do different things in that moment. It worked for us to say, hey – this is what I want to do and it’s ok that you don’t, I’ll see you in a few days. Let me tell you, the reunions after those split ups were embarrassing. Hugs for days. Maybe some tears.
While it’s all fun and games to go out and party with people in your hostel, if one of you is taking the party part of traveling more seriously than the other, you’re going to butt heads. Waiting for your hungover friend to get up when you’ve been wide-eyed and bushy tailed since 7 AM, is definitely not fun. Once in awhile, sure. But if that’s happening on the regular, you better start practicing how to say “good morning” without a passive aggressive tone. Lastly, when you’ve just gotten home after a 12 hour sightseeing extravaganza and all you can think about it sweet, home bunk bed in the dorm, but your bud wants to go out for a beer…well, then you’re just annoyed AND tired. Le sigh.
Questions to ask before you leave on a jet plane together:
Everyone has different travel styles, and it’s not just the cheddar that’s making the difference. While some people prefer to travel in touristy areas or are looking for that all inclusive trip, there are other people who prefer to travel as far away from those destinations as possible. If you want to venture off by kayak to a beach bungalow on a remote island with no wi-fi, but your bud would rather stay next to the swim up bar in downtown Cancun, well there are bound to be some issues.
Questions to ask before exploring new territories with said person:
Lastly, one of the biggest things to realize about the person you are going to travel with, is that you are about to embark on a journey across the world together. You are going to see and learn more about that person than you ever wanted to. That person is the only other person that will know you wherever you’re going, and probably the only person who has a long-term investment into your well being. You want to go with someone that you genuinely trust. Someone that you know will have your back when you get into a shit storm of a situation. Someone that you are confident will make decisions with your best interest in mind.
On the flipside though, traveling can be a very selfish sport, and so this also means that you will have to make sure you are ready for the commitment to another person while on the road. Having a good travel partner means being a good travel partner. One time, my BFF almost ripped her leg off in the middle of nowhere. The shit we had to do to fix that situation was a lot of work, but I know if the situation was reversed, she would have done the same for me. Oh wait, she did about 2 years later when I broke my arm.
Questions to ask before you commit:
These questions are definitely hard to talk about face-to-face, but trust me when I tell you that they will really help you figure out if someone is right for you. If you deep down feel like someone isn’t going to be the right partner, trust your gut. You can always give ‘em the classic, “its not you it’s me,” and keep searching for the one.
If you can’t find someone who fills the shoes of the travel partner you’re looking for, or maybe you found the perfect person, but they won’t commit – you have another option. Just fly solo [at first]. One of the best ways to meet a great travel partner is simply just by getting on the road. You very quickly find out if your styles align and you’ll have a new PIC in no time.
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