Travel is a test for any relationship.
EVEN DURING A ONE month adventure, new personalities seem to emerge in people you’ve known your whole life. Here are nine questions you might want to ask–and answer–before traveling with a friend.
1. What’s the purpose?
Does one of you travel to meet people while the other is focused on museums and architecture? Are you traveling to relax and lounge, while your friend is anxious to hop on the nearest tuk tuk to discover the surroundings? Find out why your partner is traveling and what they hope to experience.
2. How much are you comfortable spending?
This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s crucial. Make sure your travel partner has a similar budget. If one of you is looking for street food and the other looking to sip Dom Pérignon in an upscale hotel bar, then problems are bound to arise.
3. What are your comfort zones?
Everyone has knee-jerk reactions to being surprised, in new situations, or not in complete control. How will your friend behave? Will she shut down? Become defensive? Will he open up and enjoy the difference? Have you seen your potential travel partner uncomfortable before? How did they act?
4. What’s your concept of time?
If you say you’ll meet at 8:00 AM, does that really mean 8:00 AM or more like 8:30? How about your friend’s clock–is it in sync with yours?
At home, these differences can be overlooked, but when traveling you might not want to be waiting around while the line to the Eiffel Tower, hoping your travel buddy is on the way. Even if the goal is just to beat the crowds at breakfast and start the day early, will your friend leave you hanging?
5. Can your friend become immersed in the moment?
Will your friend be able to let go of home for a while and focus on what is in front of their eyes in a foreign land? Some people can’t do this, and a conversation in Belize could be about a trade-gone-bad in New York City. It can take the wind out of the trip.
6. Does your friend have the potential to drive you crazy?
Does your friend smack while eating? Does she talk with empanadas falling out of her mouth? Bottom-line, is there anything that slightly annoys you now about a future travel partner? If so, this annoyance level will intensify on the road. Be ready.
7. What are your patience levels?
Some have patience; others don’t. When you are waiting for a meal and it doesn’t come out for 45 minutes, will your friend be upset? Will you? A train is 10 minutes behind schedule. Are you complaining together, or is only one of you piercingly perturbed by the delay?
8. Will you be flexible?
The trip is a month long; the route is planned. But in week two a particular beach is absolutely amazing and beckons you to stay longer. Will both of you decide to change the schedule a bit and stay an extra day? Or perhaps both of you decide to stick to the planned itinerary? Does one of you recognize the present opportunity, while the other is a stickler for the game plan?
9. Will you be co-dependent, independent, or a mix?
Do both of you plan on spending a majority of the time together on the trip? If one person wants to see an art exhibit and the other decides on a beach to check out the scene, will it be OK to split up? Some people do not like to be left alone when in an unfamiliar land. Others relish this single exploration time, and then enjoy coming back to a friend later in the day to tell of the expedition.
Having conversations about travel plans can be challenging…whether you want to hit the road with a friend or go it alone. If you’re eager to try solo travel, but aren’t sure how to tell your partner, be sure to read this article from our archives.