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10 Red Flags to Avoid in a Travel Partner

You've been warned.

It’s common to look for red flags when it comes to dating, but someone you might spend even more time with than a potential partner is a travel buddy.

Remember that when you’re traveling, it’s common to feel tired, hungry, or disappointed when things don’t go as planned. Having a companion who supports you and that you can communicate with can make all the difference.

These are the red flags to avoid in a travel buddy.

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If you’re traveling together, then trustworthiness is a must. An untrustworthy friend is a red flag because you need a friend to be honest while navigating a new place. Being able to trust is also important when the only people you have to depend on are each other. Otherwise, “it leaves you feeling vulnerable and without a reliable source of assistance or support in unfamiliar surroundings,” says Patapia Tzotzoli, a clinical psychologist based in London.

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Nothing is ever perfect when you’re traveling, but it is essential to be with someone who will appreciate the beautiful moments when they happen. If someone is too preoccupied with the heat, crowds, or imperfections of a place, it can also cloud your experience. “It creates a negative atmosphere and impacts your enjoyment of the trip,” concludes Tzotzoli.


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Things can change when you’re on the road–flights can run late, or an excursion may get canceled. If you’re with someone who acts inflexibly, it can be hard to make an alternative plan together. An inflexible friend may try to hold on to the things they can control, which means that trying to adapt to issues that arise becomes much more complicated. “​​It causes potential conflicts and hinders the smooth flow of the trip,” explains Tzotzoli.

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Being Dramatic

Overly dramatic or grandstanding behavior is received poorly regardless of where you are in the world. Causing a scene or creating an audience when problems unfold can only lend itself to further stress and issues.

“It can draw unwanted attention or create unnecessary conflicts in unknown environments,” says Tzotzoli.

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Unless you travel alone, there is always some degree of compromise when deciding how you will spend your time. When you’re with someone who acts selfishly, it’s much more likely that you’ll end up on their schedule and not your own. This can be difficult if you have something you really want to do on holiday but end up missing out. “It hinders the spirit of collaboration and compromise expected when traveling with someone else,” summarizes Tzotzoli.

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Excessive Risk-Taking

Being adventurous and going out of your comfort zone can be a good thing when you’re away, but risk-taking behavior is not. It’s not pretty when travelers take unnecessary risks, whether taking suspect drugs or jumping off cliffs, and there can be traumatic consequences. As well as potential harm or injury to them, you could end up having to come to their aid for something that should never have happened. “Different perceptions of risk and planning can lead to unwanted situations and friction,” says Mark Stronger, a clinical psychologist with Thriveworks based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “Know what risks you are willing to take and what your comfort level is before the trip starts,” he adds.

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Lack of Empathy

If you get sick or lose something on the road, you’ll want to be with someone who cares and will help you. When someone lacks empathy, it can mean that your needs are ignored. “If someone genuinely lacks empathy, be prepared for a very disruptive trip, especially when disagreements or problems arise,” warns Stronger.


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Budgetary Differences

If one of you is a spender and the other needs to be thrifty, it can affect every monetary decision you make for your trip, from flights to hotels. On a practical level, it means that one of you may not be able to run up a high bar tab or choose a fancy restaurant over street food. It’s better to know an expenditure plan before you go. “Managing expectations and differences in world view can feel exhausting and lead to anger and a sense of unwillingness from your travel buddy,” says Stronger. However, “if all parties can agree on a level of accommodations, budgetary differences don’t have to be a huge hurdle.”

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Drinking Too Much

There’s nothing wrong with partying while you’re away, but if you are carrying your friend home every night, then it can be a problem. When someone gets too drunk, and you’re sharing transport home, it can mean that your night ends there too. For those once-in-a-lifetime evenings, or when you’re speaking to your holiday crush, this can sabotage some potentially epic memories. “Drinking excessively leads to impulsive behavior, physical danger, and the possibility of legal entanglement,” explains Stronger. “Enjoying the local culture safely means having a partner you can trust to support you and not place you in potentially dangerous situations.”

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The green-eyed monster may be more likely to strike while traveling, so if it’s an issue with a friend while at home, it probably will be when you leave. Whether they are possessive over you making new friends or flirting with fellow travelers, it can create a major headache on your trip. As jealousy can be hard to spot, it may be better to take a buddy who will be happy for you when you’re having the time of your life and won’t resent you for it. “Jealous friends and partners tend to pick fights, easily take offense, and have poor respect for boundaries,” concludes Stronger.


Avatar for DenisAfrica
DenisAfrica July 24, 2023

Choosing the right travel partner requires a bit of patience to learn them fully otherwise your quality holiday could be ruined just like that!

jpsartre3207 July 18, 2023

So you've met my mother.  Big mistake: the trips she guilted me into taking her on when I was in my 20s and 30s.  She never appreciated them or even now, decades later, will admit I took her to see the world.   And my older sister, the golden child, got her to disinherit me a couple years ago - though she's a married multimillionaire and I am not.  In short, I'll add one more red flag: abusiveness.  Even if they are a blood relative, if they are emotionally or mentally abusive to you, do not take them with you.  They will never appreciate it so your money and chance to have age-appropriate activities will be lost forever.  And worse, it will not get your their love or to see you in a good light.