For the Sake of Sanity, Be a Good Travel Companion

PHOTO: mimagephotography/Shutterstock

No more, “Just shut up and drive.”

Friends are fun. Traveling is fun. But when you put the two together, well, the result isn’t always a guaranteed good time. Case in point, I spent a semester abroad in college and took the weekend to road trip with a friend I met at my new school. By the time we got back from our little excursion, we were at odds and on a completely new page—and that page was crumpled and stained, so to speak. Here are a couple of rules that, in retrospect, we could’ve followed to make the trip smoother for both of us.

Choose Wisely

If you’re considering traveling and need a buddy (or have already discussed traveling with a buddy), think about the, shall we say, vibe of each candidate. Are there aspects of it that could throw a wrench into your holiday? Do they get satisfaction from pointing out peoples’ flaws or insecurities? Will they panic if you guys are lost and need to ask a local grocer for directions? Are they open-minded? Do you feel confident that they would be able to entertain themselves if you briefly leave them alone at a party while you go to the bathroom? It’s also important to establish what your friend wants to get out of the trip—it would be unfortunate to plan an excursion thinking you’ll be seeing everything for the first time together, only to find out they prefer to go solo.

Are They Interested in the Same Type of Travel?

Know your friend before you go. And by that I mean, make sure they are into the idea and just as excited to explore a new place as you are—something I didn’t really do with my aforementioned college acquaintance. If you’re looking forward to hiking in a destination known for its outdoor activities (including scenic treks), and they aren’t the biggest fans of the outdoors…well, you can see where I’m going with this. These days, there are even apps and sites—from Facebook to Meetup—that specifically connect you with other likeminded adventure lovers.

Do they get satisfaction from pointing out peoples’ flaws or insecurities?

Make Sure You’re on the Same Page

Each day of the trip that you choose to conquer on your own, touch base with your buddy before heading out. Consider one another’s itineraries and plan any meetups accordingly. Also, try balancing the activities you choose to do by yourself and the ones you choose to do with your friend(s). Make sure to communicate, though, so as to not end up seeing something twice or missing something entirely because you assumed you would see it together. Additionally, discuss your budgets for the trip(s). You don’t want money—which grants you the ability to, let’s be honest, actually enjoy doing things—becoming a point of contention.

No, Literally Make Sure You’re on the Same Page

Remember, you’re in a foreign place—be it driving distance from your home in the U.S. or Seoul, South Korea—you want to make sure you have your bases covered so, safety first. Avoid the helicopter-parent route, but plan to check in twice a day (morning, afternoon) before reuniting, once again, for safety purposes.

Patience Is a Virtue

The best way to think about this practice is being mindful. It might not hurt to figuratively step into your travel buddy’s shoes for a moment—if they’re wary about an activity or get pleasantly distracted at a street food market, give them a moment.

INSIDER TIPNever underestimate the power of a deep breath.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Let’s say you’re sitting with your travel pal on the couches in the lounge of your hostel after a long day of hiking. You’re halfway through your two-week-long trip and you guys have been together almost the entire time. He’s been talking about all of the amazing photos he’s already stashed in a newly-created album so far and, while that’s all well and fine, he’s also completely indecisive about “which filter looks better: ‘Clarendon or Valencia?’” and “If I post something now and then around noon tomorrow, is that obnoxious?” You couldn’t care less and the persistent uncertainty is starting to get under your skin. But bear with him!

You don’t want money becoming a point of contention.

Y’all are on a voyage and these memories will last a lifetime—pick a filter without thinking too hard about it, tell him “yes, of course it’s fine, bb!,” and head to bed with a guidebook [*wink, wink*] to read up on some itinerary ideas for your early start tomorrow.

If You’re Traveling With a Group of People

Don’t be a control freak! Making sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing is all well and good, but being overbearing and overscheduling is fun for no one, let alone yourself. There is a way to make sure you’re on the same page (see above), just make sure there’s space for breathing room.

Ultimately…

Don’t be shy to talk to them about the points mentioned on this list—it’s healthy and it will keep your plans running smoothly to have an open dialogue. You and your friend(s) are looking to have a good time and in order to do that there needs to be a level of trust, honesty, and openness at play. Speaking of play, think about any playlists you’ve curated! This could be detrimental in establishing the tone of the trip. A niche playlist that might not hit home for everyone? “Not You Mother’s Christian Music.”