"You should always consider carefully who you will travel with and then keep in mind how special it is that they have also chosen you!"
We humans are social beings, "pack animals". We enjoy a good solo adventure every now and then but we tend to prefer to travel with someone so we can share the joy, make memories together, help each other out in challenging situations and have each other's backs.
We've all done it before! Traveling with family, friends, your partner, people we've just met at the hostel, etc. The majority of travelers travel together - but that doesn’t mean we all travel well together.
This is why it is important to be a "good travel buddy" and pick a “good travel buddy”. Travel is one of the most joyful things to do in life. It awakens the senses, broadens your horizon, it makes you feel free and alive and is in general the most amazing thing in the world (well to me, at least).
Travel can also be stressful and has the tendency to challenge patience, test relationships and even bring out the worst in us. You should always consider carefully who you will travel with and then keep in mind how special it is that they have chosen you to go on this adventure with. They have chosen you out of everyone else to go on this incredible journey!
Here’s how to be the travel buddy that everyone wants:
1) Plan ahead.
If you choose your travel buddies in advance, make sure you are after the same things. Talk to them about the way you like to travel, where you want to go, what types of accommodation and transport you prefer, what are your must-sees and -dos and what you really don't want? Setting the right expectations and communicating prior to your trip can save both of you a world of pain! Nothing worse than showing up in South America and realising that your buddy is looking up the next campsite while you are trying to order a taxi to the closest 5 star hotel.
2) Be kind.
Traveling can be a strain on both body and mind sometimes. That's why it is important to be kind. Not just to yourself but also to others you travel with. Look out for them. Make sure you lower your pace on that hike when you see others are struggling to keep up. Share your lunch pack when someone else has forgotten theirs. Ration your hot shower water if your friend needs to wash her hair etc. It’s the small things that can make a huge difference. Especially when being far away from home and somewhat having to rely on others being kind to you. Be that person that looks out for others.
3) Stay positive.
You might come across some challenges during your trip. The hostel is booked out? You missed the last bus to your next destination? The ATM ate your credit card? - Stay positive! Don't let challenges get you down but rather keep a positive mindset and find solutions together. Especially when your travel companion(s) feel down. It is important to have at least one of you with a positive attitude that can pick you both back up. I'm a big fan of making people laugh and I love a bit of sarcasm. Laugh about missing the last bus and being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Traveling is an adventure. And while you might not remember the dozen nights you spend traveling on a bus, you will remember that one night you got stranded and slept on the bench at the bus stop ;-)
4) Control your mood swings.
We are all guilty of being moody every now and then. We might just be having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep the night before or have something on our mind that’s bothering us, the list goes on. Even though you might not be able to help it all the time, and your mood swings might even ruin your own day every now and then, what you don't want is for it to ruin your travel buddy’s day. Remind yourself of the presence of another human being and use that as motivation to turn your attitude around. Chances are the fake smile you put on for their benefit will turn into a real one in no time.
5) Think and act as a team.
When you are traveling with others it is important that you think and act that way. While it is important that you enjoy your travel experience and get to see and do what you want, it is also important that the rest of the group does the same. Make sure you address openly what you want to get out of the trip and compare your expectations and plans with those of your travel buddies. Try and find compromises and plan things you both/ all like doing. If you fail to reach a compromise don't argue about it but instead plan a day where each of you can take off on their own and do what they want. Coming back at the end of the day and sharing your experiences will add some additional excitement.
6) Enjoy each other's company and cherish this special time.
Traveling together is absolute invaluable quality time spent with each other. Cherish the experiences you make and enjoy the journey. Look at all the memories you are making every day that you'll be able to share together forever. This is what makes traveling with someone else so special in comparison to solo travel. Years from now you will be able to say - "Hey, remember that night where we danced Flamenco with the locals?” or “Can you remember that sunrise we watched as we were arriving at the Angkor Wat temples!?". These are the moments that create the strongest bond between people. Traveling does that to us and it helps us form lifelong friendships ;-)
7) Encourage each other to try something new.
Help each other to get out of your comfort zones. Are you hesitant to try the local street food? Do you feel uneasy about taking the night bus? Are you are scared to go paragliding? Encourage each other to try new things and share the adventure together. Trying something new and pushing your limits is what traveling is all about. Join in on this celebration together and you'll soon see. If you both do it, it's half as scary and double the fun!
8) Be each other's rock.
There are lots of things that can happen when traveling. One of you might get ill, injure themselves, eat something off or feel homesick. Be each other's rock and look after one another. When you feel unwell, all you want is something familiar and being surrounded by people who know you and who you can trust is the most comforting feeling in situations like this. When you’re there for someone in these moments of need, they will never forget it.
9) Be reliable.
Dealing with "flaky" people is annoying at the best of times but especially when traveling. You are somewhere completely new, you might not speak the language, haven't yet figured out the public transport system and aren’t quite sure what to make of the local food. The last thing you need is a travel buddy you cannot rely on. Be on time, be organised, do what you said you would and be that person others can rely on in the unfamiliarity that travel occasionally brings with it.
10) Be perceptive.
Try to read each other’s signals to get the most from your experience. If you are getting the vibe that your friend needs some space, make an excuse to head off on your own for a bit. Is your friend hitting it off with the cute Irish guy? Maybe suggest he come along on the next day’s excursion so she doesn’t have to. Is she upset about some bad news from home? Make time for a good chat and shout a few cocktails. A small gesture can mean the world to someone - especially when away from home and all its comforts.
11) Leave on good terms.
In case your joined adventure didn't turn out to be as harmonic and magical as you had hoped - make sure you leave on good terms regardless. No matter whether you are close friends or strangers that have met on the road, what you have in common is that you are humans exploring this beautiful planet. As different as we all might be from each other, there is a lot of things we have in common. Traveling with people that are different from us might be challenging but it also teaches us a lot, about ourselves and others. Be grateful for these new lessons learned and for the person who shared them with you.
Author - Natalie Gruner
Nat is one of the co-creators of Travelher and loves travel, family and all things beach. She is currently working in NZ and getting away for an adventure as often as she can.