Travel Tips

Choosing Good Travel Partners

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These are probably obvious things to consider, but they bear repeating. I think it’s more fun to travel with someone, but only if we’re compatible. If I’m spending half my trip compromising or doing things I have little interest in, I’d rather go by myself or eschew the trip altogether. And then there’s the fear of the worst case scenario — losing the friendship altogether.

A few important points to ask when considering travel companions:

Site Seeing Styles
Be realistic about what you each most want to see. You may think you’d be happy to see and do anything the destination has to offer, but after a day or two, that will change.

  • How do you relax? Lying motionless on a beach or hiking the tallest mountain?
  • How many historic sites and buildings do you want to see? And when visiting do you read every informational placard or breeze through a room in 5 minutes?
  • Prefer joining tour groups or exploring on your own with a guide book?
  • Are you an avid souvenir collector or do you avoid local shops like the plague?
  • Prefer local transportation or the most comfortable, efficient means of transport?

Desired experiences
Better to know in advance if one of you is inspired by Anthony Bourdain and the other is looking for a spa weekend, otherwise everyone loses. Get beyond the vague goals of “eating a lot of good food” and “taking in the beauty of the scenery”

  • Is taking in the local color of a place your biggest priority? And if so, what does that actually mean?
  • Do you want to eat as much local food as possible, or do you prefer keeping your stomach stable with home favorites?
  • Do you want to rough it, take in the charm of independent B & B, or stay in the nicest lodging you can afford?
  • Is your plan to relax while exploring a new place or see as much as you can cram into the trip? 

Similar Schedules
When traveling are you on the same schedule? Having a morning person and a night owl in one hotel room can wreak havoc with tolerance levels.

  • How early should the day typically start? Are you all about watching the sunrise or luxuriating in bed until 11?
  • How important are regular meals? Can you go with the flow or does getting off schedule cause your blood sugar to plummet?
  • How important is nightlife? Is that a big draw for the trip, or would it be ok if the lights were out at 10PM every night?

Cost Sensitivity
One of the best parts about traveling with others is getting to split the costs for lodging, transport, etc. If you have the same expectations.

    • How much are you willing to spend on food per day? Up for one nice meal and inexpensive options the rest of the day or is it 5* all the way?
    • Willing to splurge a little on luxury housing, or do you prefer to apply the savings to doing more site seeing or eating at nicer places?
    • How much is convenience worth? Saving $5 by taking the metro or saving 20 minutes by taking a cab?

If you can find someone who perfectly fits your preferences in every category, you’re lucky! Even the best of traveling partners will usually have to compromise about some things. So all the better if you’re comfortable splitting up occasionally. If one person would like to nap, the other should feel free to try out that yoga class, or vice versa.

This is especially important when traveling with more than two people. Nothing frustrates me more than the group mentality that everything needs to be done together.

Jeanne and I can be, er, exuberant at times. We like to take lots of pictures; we’re very enthusiastic about good things and politely adamant about problems being fixed. Not everyone’s cup of tea when traveling. Be thoughtful about whether you prefer keeping a low profile or like to run around excitedly.

Also consider how problems should be handled when they arise. It gets on my nerves when a fellow traveler is rude to staff who weren’t responsible for a flight being cancelled or a room not being ready.


Thinking these questions through may actually open up your traveling options. Preferences that might not work well, say for two weeks in Asia, might be a perfect complement for a quick weekend.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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  3. Bob Bonsall

    May 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this already, but travelling with a smoker changes things considerably. In airports you either need a smoking lounge or you might go through security twice depending on the wait time for your flight; hotel rooms need to be smoking or have a balcony unless you want to spend a lot of time going up and down elevators. Restaurants don’t always have a smoking section anymore (and are you comfortable dining in the smoking section?) Theme parks often restrict where you can smoke, so that dictates where you will be and when, and even intermission at a show will be eaten up by the habit.

    All things that affect the timing of your trip. It may not be a big deal for a weekend, but nonsmokers get tired of it after more than a couple days.

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  5. Sean Colahan

    Sean Colahan

    September 2, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Glad I married Elizabeth Gomes Colahan then:-) Forever #DoThingBuddies!!!

  6. Sheri Hardeman

    Sheri Hardeman

    September 2, 2013 at 2:47 am

    My hubby is the BEST travel partner ever!!

  7. Joan

    February 26, 2014 at 12:14 am

    How lucky can I get?! If not traveling with my husband, who is great, I travel with my twin sister. That is like traveling with yourself. All the same preferences and ideas.

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