Choosing your traveling companion (if there isn’t an obvious choice like a spouse, cousin or go-to drinking buddy) is often a daunting task to say the least. It can be a source of anxiety if not outright fear to think of how this person can effect the trip’s final outcome, change its events and especially the way we look back on it when it’s over. Who comes with you can quite literally make or break everything. So how in the world do you do it?
Well never fear, we have some suggestions. Of course we do!
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What to look for in a traveling companion?
Choosing a stranger to travel with can either reap amazing rewards or else have disastrous outcomes. If you have no history of a person’s temperament or sensibilities it’s impossible to grasp their true colors when you meet them, and when you’re stuck on a train with someone for 15 hours, or handling an emergency situation in a foreign country or need to make a quick choice in bars, true colors bleed through very quickly. At least try to spend some time with them before the trip so you can suss out minute points about their behavior. Do not judge, merely observe.
Things to keep in mind:
- Have some common interests. This will tell you how you’ll be spending your time while on the road. If they like museums and you don’t, you’ll be debating whether or not to go to a museum, and in turn all your activities, constantly. Debates: something to avoid.
- Avoid the crazies. If they’re exceptionally talkative or obsessive or neurotic (or schizophrenic), and you’re personality leans more toward the Buddhist, you may want to think twice before putting their name on the same ticket as you. First impressions can be extremely revealing.
- Agree on expenditures before you leave. The last thing you want is to have conflicts over how much you spend on things. If your companion wants to go rafting, diving and eat lobster every night when you’re okay with parks, picnics and baguettes, you may be in for some conflicts.
- Make sure your personalities gel. With a little time spent together you’ll quickly find out if you have similar themes in intelligence, tolerance and conversation. These things can be hard to shrug off after even the first few days together.
- Age does matter. If you’re not related, traveling with someone much older or younger can be a real drag. You’ll want to go out when they’re ready to sack it in or vice versa. You’re road-weathered when they’re just green. Keep it within 10 years and you should be fine.
Even if you have a seemingly endless list of issues with a person, try not to discount them immediately. Some of the best experiences come from ignoring red flags. And remember, you’re out to accept the people of the world, so accepting your traveling companion may be the perfect place to start the habit.