Travel Companions

Essentially, you have two broad choices to make when it comes to deciding on who to travel with -- go with a friend or two...or go alone. Some travelers might also want to consider joining an organized tour group to make traveling easier. Think about the following to help you decide what's best for you.

Choosing Travel Companions

Traveling with one or more people definitely has its benefits. Besides security and companionship, having a travel partner will allow you to lighten your load by sharing some items (ie. laundry soap and travel guides) and costs. Some people also find it much more enjoyable to be able to share experiences with someone else -- to talk about and share the memories.

But their is a limit to how many people you want to be traveling with (including people you meet while abroad). Having too many people in a traveling group makes getting into attractions, restaurants and onto transportation more difficult. Arriving at a crowded hostel at the end of the day and finding several vacant beds is virtually impossible. As well, the more people there are in a group, the longer it takes (and the more difficult it is) to make decisions. So try to keep your group as small as possible.

Considering who to travel with would appear to be an easy decision. But an honest consideration is essential before you depart. To begin with, choosing your travel partner will probably be based on common sense: How long have you known this person? How close are they to you? As well, there are other considerations to be made that are just as important when choosing a travel partner:

  • has your partner already visited the region that you are headed for? If you are traveling to Costa Rica (for example) for the first time, but your traveling partner has already been there before, you may have problems deciding on where to go and what to see. Your partner will already have opinions about what is worth seeing and what isn't. And these ideas may or may not be in sync with what you want to see.
  • do you each have different budgets? Traveling on two completely different budgets will surely cause problems while away as one person is required to spend less than the other.
  • do you both have similar travel objectives? Are you traveling for different reasons. Some people travel to party, to see historical attractions or to see as much as possible?

Because you are together all day, every day, traveling can break even the best of friendships. Small habits seem to become larger. Decision making and agreeing on daily plans becomes more and more difficult. But dealing with such problems is not entirely impossible. Try some of the following strategies to help minimize conflict while away:

  • take turns being the person in charge for a day. You can make the itinerary for one day and then your partner can plan the next day.
  • assign heads or tails to optional activities and then flip a coin to decide what to do. This strategy removes any blame for a seemingly poor decision.
  • create a joint bank account for shared expenses. Make equal contributions before-hand and then use a credit card to access the money.
  • make an effort to mix with the locals and other travelers. A fresh face or idea can help reduce tension in your group or partnership.
  • take a break from each other. An hour or two (or even a day) can give you time to explore and think on your own.

No matter who you travel with, you will always have the option of going your separate ways if tensions do arise. While I was traveling in Africa with three friends for five months, the difference in our traveling desires eventually became apparent and we ended up breaking into 2 groups of two for the benefit of us all. Looking back, it was a wise decision at the time. We returned from our trip with the same excellent relations as when we went to Africa. All travel groups will inevitably have flare ups due to differences or irritating habits. The key is to try and minimize the problems if at all possible. By thinking about some of the above mentioned points before hand, problems can hopefully be reduced.