Now that it’s time to get travel goals and travel plans in order, it’s also time to start thinking about travel partners—because we all know fools can sometimes spoil a trip.
And the thing is, we don’t always know our travel partners to be fools before we travel with them. Sometimes you’ll have perfectly good relationships with family or friends and then you land in another country with them and all ridiculousness breaks loose. (Between us, I have family and friends that I love dearly but would absolutely never travel with).
There’s a few key things I think make people good travel partners or terrible ones, and I try to keep these things in mind myself when I’m someone’s travel partner.
If you’re not sure how to choose your companions or haven’t had enough terrible experiences yet to steer you in the right direction (which is away from uncool travelers), let me help you.
Don’t travel with people who think America (or your home country) is the only great place on Earth
This is a recipe for disaster. There’s nothing wrong with patriotism, the problem is when the person thinks the only right/good/normal/acceptable way to do things is the way they do them at home. This does not make for a good travel experience. People like this have been known to say things like: “This (fill in the blank exotic dish) doesn’t taste as good as what we eat at home,” or “Oh, they don’t have (fill in the blank first world luxury) here? Ugh,” or “This place is alright but I’m ready to go home.” We’ll dub this person Debbie Downer and leave them at the home they love so much.
Don’t travel with people who aren’t interested in trying new things
I kid you not, I have traveled with people who sought out a McDonald’s in the country we were in because they didn’t want to eat anymore local food (even though we had only been in the place for a couple days). These people will keep you back. They’ll keep you from finding that little hole in the wall tapas place which you read no reviews for and can’t fully grasp all of what’s on the menu since it’s in another language, but that turns out to be amazing. When they tag along—begrudgingly—to a restaurant you chose, they may not be impressed with the food and even a little sour about being there and having to eat it. We’ll label this person a tad annoying and leave them to their comfort zones.
Don’t travel with people who live to complain
This is a big one. Maybe this person doesn’t think America is the only great place on Earth and maybe they are willing to try new things, but it won’t matter. Whatever you do or try or don’t, this person will find a way to complain. Maybe they’re too hot or too cold. Maybe they don’t like the fact that they have to walk a lot to get around. Maybe they want to be the one to plan the day. Maybe they only want to shop while you’re after more cultural endeavors. Whatever it is, there will be some point in the trip that this person doesn’t get their way, or is feeling extra cranky, and you’ll have to hear all about it. We’ll call this person the whiner and let them stay where someone else can absorb their complaints.
Don’t travel with people who think first world luxuries are the only way to go
Sometimes when you’re traveling, there’ll be no power or no water and you’ll have to fumble around in the dark or bathe with a bucket. Sometimes there’s no toilet paper or a public bathroom that’s flooded and all 12 toilets are clogged. Sometimes you’ll have to squeeze into a taxi van with 17 people too many in it with an armpit in your face and a tante’s bag of produce on your lap. Would your travel partner be down for that or would they pretty much morph into the winer? If you’re not sure, it’s probably best to leave them off of your trip list because there are many parts of the world without the same luxuries we may have at home and that’s OK. That’s how other people live and if we’re on their turf, we should be able to deal. We’ll call this person bourgie and leave them to their haughty ways.
Don’t travel with people who can’t go with the flow
The thing the Debbie Downer, the tad annoying, the whiner and the bourgie all have in common is that they can’t go with the flow. And that’s the one thing that travel demands. Things will come up, things will change, plans will unravel, weather will get in the way—whatever it is, travel always comes with some surprises. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s not supposed to be your life at home, just with a different back drop. It’s an adventure. And if you don’t have the right-minded adventurers to go with, you’re better off flying solo.