The importance we place on our travel destination cannot be underestimated. However, what is equally crucial – if not more so – is who we share these experiences with. Soaking up glorious sun rays or viewing the Northern lights are memorable and enjoyable in their own right but without a wonderful travel companion, the pleasure is significantly diminished.
With travelling increasingly opening up to us, a fascinating aspect of holidays is who we travel with. Be it a partner, family member or friend, the chemistry, balance of personalities and ability to compromise over travel issues is incredibly important.
The right travel buddy can really impact the experience you have and even influence your opinion of the destination itself. There are stories of best friends travelling abroad together but to come home and never speak again or relationships really pushed to their limit.
Here are some qualities to look for in the perfect travel companion:
Sense of humour
When trains are delayed 15 hours or you have contracted conjuntivitus and a foreign Doctor has prescribed an eye patch – you need someone who will laugh it off with you. Travelling in a foreign country rarely goes to plan and besides, misshaps make for great stories.
Would you really want to sit on an overnight bus or spend the majority of each day with a dull person? Travelling with someone else means you will be in close confines for long periods of time. You need someone who you’re comfortable chatting to about anything. In saying that, you also need to be comfortable just sitting in silence.
While it’s natural to have conflicting opinions about things or places to see, it can work out for the best and force you to do interesting things you wouldn’t typically do.
If you and your travel companion do have different interests or priorities, you need to be independent enough to spend time apart. Maybe you want to go snorkelling in Dahab but your buddy wants to lie by the beach – who says you have to be together the whole time? A benefit of a group tour is that you can part ways with your mate and still be with other like-minded travellers on your tour so you’re never alone.
On an adventure holiday, you have to expect to get sand all over you or wet hair from watersports and even a little sweaty if you’re doing an acitve activity. Evidently, a perfect travel companion needs to be up for anything and not a high-maintenance individual. Sleeping on a felucca in Egypt means there are no loos on board and glamping in the Sahara may not have internet or wi-fi facilities – it is the luxuries in life you need to be happy to life without for a short period.
In addition, a low-maintenance mate should be willing to try any food. The local cuisine is such a big part of any culture and while it’s reasonable if their stomach turns at the sight/smell of some out-of-the-ordinary local delicacies, it’s a great way to experience the culture and may even be considered rude to decline an offer.
You don’t want to be a Mum on a trip – cleaning up after your mate; covering their expenses; or waking them up for an early bus ride. A good travel companion should be organised enough to remember their passports, not lose their belongings and be able to get to the airport on time, to name a few. It’s also a plus if they are not navigationally challenge and can read a map.
It can be difficult to find a friend or partner with compatible travel styles and personality traits but once you find them, you won’t want to let them go.
Vita Frederick, 23, loved holidays with her parents as a child. As with most teenagers, she then sought travel experiences with her friends. ‘It was great fun sharing experiences with my friends’, explains Vita, ‘but there was also a moment where I developed an appreciation for my earlier travel experiences. The important part for me is to enjoy both kinds of travel. Yes, the fun my friends and I have is, to be honest, age relevant but I can also share a different kind of enjoyment with my parents. As with most families, we have a shorthand and often known exactly what the other is thinking. Luckily, we also share a very similar sense of humour which is invaluable. My first trip abroad with friends was when I was 16. It felt terrific – very grown up and a little daunting which made it even more exciting. Since that holiday, I have naturally matured. I know planning is vital as are having contingencies if things don’t work out. Safety, money and simple common sense whilst away cannot be underestimated.
Now, when I go away with my parents, I am just as likely and capable of suggesting places, researching areas of interest and offering ideas of what we can do together. Time away with parents and those close to you can be as fulfilling and fun as with anyone else in your life.’
Whether our travels take us near or to more exotic locations, there are important elements to consider. Where we visit, time of the year and what we desire from visiting new places. Our expectations can vary enormously but one resounding truth is that it is who we travel with that can make a huge difference to the whole experience. Our enjoyment is intrinsically linked to the person or people we choose to share these magical moments with.