Hi Frugalistas! When reader CW contacted me suggesting a post on how to be a good travel companion, I knew it was a post that needed to be written. I also knew it was a post that I knew I needed some help with. Regular readers will know most of my travelling is solo, or with my family. When we travel as a family I do most of the organisation and planning, so I don’t really feel that I really get to experience and develop my skills in how to be a good travel companion. So, I did what anyone would do – I asked a friend. My travel blogger colleagues are back and this time they are sharing their best ideas on how to be a good travelling companion:
How to be a good travel companion: pick the person you can’t imagine travelling without
Claudia from My Adventures Across the World says there’s nothing better than travelling with her sister, and always has her best experiences when they travel together:
In a world where it is glamorous to profess oneself as a “solo traveler,” I admit that, for as much as I enjoy exploring the world by myself, I feel as my trips are not complete unless my sister is with me. She’s by far my favorite travel companion. Our first big trip together was in 2011, when we went on a road trip to Mexico. We had such a good time, that since then we have a “ritual” of taking at least a trip together each year. What I love about traveling with her is that we know each other so well that we hardly need to talk to communicate – a look is generally enough to understand. And we have very similar tastes and interests, so there’s no real need to compromise. One thing we love doing on each trip, is zip lining. We even did it last March, when we were visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Needless to say, we had a blast.
How to be a good travel companion: choose a companion who travels your way
I love this advice from Katherine of Tara Lets Anywhere. Just because you are friends with someone doesn’t mean you can travel successfully together. The best travel companions are those who want to travel your way, not necessarily those you know the best:
I often travel with a group of strangers. The reason is, here in the Philippines, renting a boat for island hopping is expensive when shouldered alone. One thing that I learned on my travels is it’s important to find a companion that travels the same way that you do. Everything else then falls into place.
For instance, I’m a budget backpacker who prefers nature trips. I’ve had experience traveling with other people who prefer city tours instead of exploring the nature and who want to be babysat during trekking in the mountains. I had traveled with “backpackers” who spent most of their times taking photos for Facebook and drinking, limiting our time for exploration. Once I’d stuck to my tribe, I didn’t have any problems about being “a good companion” because we’re naturally on the same page, and rapport — even friendship — just happens.
How to be a good travel companion: what to look for
Barbara from Jet-Settera knows exactly what to look for in choosing the wrong travel companion, and also exactly who she is looking to travel with:
One of the best traveling companions I ever had was a Korean classmate of mine from university. She was quiet and pleasant most of the time. She was well prepared about the destination. She reserved the hotels in advance. She was smart. She always knew her way around the city and she could guide me around without a map. At the same time she was flexible, drama-free, easy going and kind. I think it is important to travel with someone who equally contributes into making the trip a success. Somebody, who is not just looking for a tour guide but also takes part in the trip planning and also well-prepared about the destination and an experienced traveler. Some people especially women can be high-maintenance, dramatic and they often over pack. I knew a girl, who showed up in Paris with a giant luggage and 4 inch heels and she was waiting for guys to carry her luggage around the town. She did not want to take taxis, so she would stand around the metro station and wait for guys to help her carry down her massive luggage. These are the kind of people I would prefer not go on a trip with.
How to be a good travel companion: learn the art of compromise
Jules from the team at Don’t Forget to Move reminds us of one the most basic qualities to have as a travel companion – the ability to compromise, even if it is just your choice of pizza topping:
As a long term traveling couple, the most important quality in a traveling companion is the ability to compromise. When you travel on your own you have the ability to make your own decisions whenever you want. However, with a traveling companion or partner there are going to be times when both of you want to do something different.
Compromise and flexibility are essentials skills to have when traveling with someone else.
It might be as simple as choosing which pizza to order, or as complex as sitting down and planning a trip together that accounts for both your interests. And if you really can’t decide on what to do, it’s not the end of the world if you decide to separate for the day to do your own activity. You’ll probably find that a bit of personal space for the day will give you a fresh insight into your traveling companion and leave you more invigorated for the next adventure!
How to be a good travel companion: the best way to avoid arguments
Meg and Mike Jerrard of Mapping Megan and Waking Up Wild realise that not everyone is happy all the time and have some very wise advice on how to avoid an argument with your travel companion:
The biggest thing that can ruin a trip is fighting, and many fights are simply caused by the stresses of travel itself. A good travel companion will go into every trip with an open mind and realise that most of your best laid plans will probably not go perfectly. Be ready for that Plan B, and don’t buy into the blame game.
If you are getting angry ask yourself if it’s because you’re tired, hungry or both.
It’s inevitable that one of you will screw up at some point along the way, it’s bound to happen, so focus on dealing with the issue instead of making each other feel bad.
How to be a good travel companion: let love and respect rule
You won’t agree all the time, but Silke from Happiness and Things knows exactly how to handle those awkward moments:
A road trip in Scotland. We are two middle aged women, travel bloggers. My friend is originally from France but now lives in the UK, I am originally from Germany and now live in Australia. We have known each other for almost 20 years but of course distance is what defines our friendship. Last summer we changed the scenario: 6 days on the road in Scotland, just me and her, spending time together 24/7.
Halfway into our trip, my friend turned around and looked at me – you could see that something was bothering her. “How come we haven’t fought yet? I fight with my other friend all the time when we are in the car together. We can end up pretty cross with each other.” I just looked at her and said: “It’s quite easy. You have your ideas and opinions and I have my ideas and opinions. I listen to what you have to say. You know you are pretty opinionated. But I won’t spend my time and energy on changing your mind on something. It’s just not worth it. We love and respect each other, we have a special bond. But we are different people. And I just leave it at that.” She accepted that, no questions asked, and it works.
How to be a good travel companion: honour your own interests
Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped learned an important lesson – it’s no fun doing things just to please another person, even if the other person is your spouse:
My husband and I have been traveling the world nonstop for the last 3.5 years, that’s right we are together 24/7. Traveling as a couple can be tough and being a good travel companion is a must. We have learned the hard way on a few things, like don’t make the other one do/try something they don’t want to do. For example: I really dislike snorkeling/diving and the thought of wetsuits at all. After 3 failed attempts of diving in some of the best places in the world: Belize, Bali, and the Maldives. We’ve learned it’s good to each have your own hobbies it gives you time apart and let’s you do what you really want to do. So when he is off diving I am relaxing on the beach.
How to be a good travel companion: don’t be afraid to do your own thing
Craig and Gemma from Two Scots Abroad are fans of hobbies, and spent 17 months together without killing each other as a result:
Craig and I travelled together for 17 months without killing each other. The secret? Hobbies! During our career breaks to travel the Americas and Europe, I created our travel blog, Two Scots Abroad and Craig began making electronic music. This time apart was vital for our sanity and also the challenge of these pastimes stopped our brains from turning to mush. So whether it’s knitting or writing a novel, take inspiration from the road and make full use of that free time – your marriage and friendships will thank you for it!
How to be a good travel companion: making two couple travel work
Travelling with your spouse can be stressful enough, but imagine travelling with another couple? Jim and Corinne of ReflectionsEnroute have not only got travelling as a couple sorted, but they double the fun, by finding the perfect way to travel with another couple:
The most important characteristic for being a great traveling companion is being able to be on your own sometimes. After traveling to over 25 countries with one couple, Jim and I really value the openness that we have with them. If either of us don’t want to do something, we just say so, and plan when to meet up later. We’ve had amazing travels all over the world with this couple, and it works because we are not trying to be polite and do something we just don’t want to do.
How to be a good travel companion: take advantage of your differences
Travelling with someone very different to yourself doesn’t have to end in tears as Alex from Lost With Purpose so beautifully shows us:
Fact: getting along doesn’t mean being compatible in every way. When you’re on the road with someone 24/7 you both need to be adaptable, or risk a foul ending to your trip.
I travel with my boyfriend. He enjoys sleeping in where possible, while I’m a frequent early bird. I used to get irritated while waiting for him to wake up—so much time, wasted!—but then I realized it only made things unpleasant for both of us.
Instead, I adapted. Early mornings are now for sunrise walks, quiet reading, and catching up on my blogging to-do list. The boy gets to sleep in, I get to have some quality time for myself, everyone wins!
How to be a good travel companion: agree how to manage your money
Ah, yes, money. The cause of so many arguments. Fortunately Jo from Wander With Jo has got some great suggestions on how to agree on money when you are travelling with a companion:
How to be a good travel companion: divide up the work
Yes, there is work to be done when you are travelling. Inma and Jose run A World to Travel, a blog that focuses on unique experiences around the world and they’ve worked out that sharing the responsibilities of organising things works best for them:
Finally, it is important to give the other room to fulfill his expectations and needs along the way. Even if it is catching up his soccer team’s matches on the other side of the world when we should be sleeping or partying!
How to be a good travel companion: prepare to share
Carole from Berkeley and Beyond learned a valuable lesson about sharing, generosity and having a great time with your travel companions:
Besides just plain being considerate, a good traveling companion can share. I had this delightful experience just recently, during a grueling 9-hour bus ride into the hinterlands of Sichuan Provence in China. Several of my companions on that trip shared food items they purchased at various stops. One shared pecans that were cracked and deliciously spiced before purchase. My goodness they were good. Another shared some fresh figs, and another shared a loaf of local bread.
Next time, I plan to be the one that buys extra and shares the goods.
How to be a good travel companion: work to your strengths
As well as sharing the work, Frank from Roar Loud made the great point about identifying who was good at what and working to your strengths for a successful trip:
I find that my perfect travel companion is one that is strong in the areas where I am weak. Rather than feeding into each others worries or concerns, I think a partner in travel should strengthen you. When I struggles to organise, they things under control. Whey they worry about all the little details, I reassure them that we will be fine.
Together we are much better travelers than we could ever be alone.
This partnership can offer the best travel experience possible, allow for the possibility to be a little more adventurous in your travel. There have been so many things that I would never have dreamed doing if not for the encouragement of my perfect travel companion.
How to be a good travel companion: pull your own weight
When you travel with someone else it’s easy to just sit back and let them do all the work. Laura from Savored Journeys always remembers to be a good contributor to the travel experience:
These days I travel almost solely with my husband. We are currently on a 6-week trip in Spain where we’re spending pretty much every hour of every day together. In that amount of time, or even on a shorter trip, it it’s really important to be mindful of how you’re holding your own weight on the trip. What I mean by that is that if one person is doing all the work to make the plans, keep the schedule, find the directions, do the navigating and attempting to negotiate language barriers, the other person is not carrying their share of the weight. In order to keep the balance, and the peace, while traveling with a companion, you really need to share equal parts of the work associated with travel. That might require you to work out each person’s role before you leave.
How to be a good travel companion: stay patient and positive
Lyn and Steve from A Hole In My Shoe remind us all that you have chosen to travel with that person for a reason, so when things get tough, find a way to keep things positive:
For us, travelling with each other is a very rewarding experience. The way we react and respond to things that happen on the road can have very different outcomes. Often actions speak far louder than words and can make or break stressful moments.
On a boring train ride, instead of getting niggly, get silly.
Patience and a few deep breathes go a long way if your companion is trying to figure out directions via the GPS. And rather than tapping your foot disapprovingly if your partner is struggling with the foregin currency, just relax and enjoy the scenery.
Content and happy travellers are the ones who don’t react to negativity and who notice positive acts of love.
How to be a good travel companion: learn to laugh (because you will need to)
Megan from Bobo and Chichi reminded me that things will definitely go wrong. And there’s only one thing to do when it happens – remember to laugh……
How to be a good travel companion: don’t be a spoilsport
Sid from Sid the Wanderer knows the best way to have fun while travelling is to be open to new experiences:
Don’t be a spoilsport! When traveling with friends or people you love, sometimes it’s absolutely alright to let go of your own preferences and join others to have some fun together. It will not allow your travel companion to enjoy more, the good karma will also come back to you soon or later. Travel is all about opening up the world around me, and looking at it from the eyes of others only broadens our own perspective, so be open and be even more accommodating. However, this does not mean you have to compromise on your ethics and principles – for example if you are a vegetarian, there is no need to add meat to your plate, but be open to visit a park that your friend wants to go to or a bar he/ she wants to check out.
How to be a good travel companion: don’t forget to talk
Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel never forget the importance of communication:
After almost 3 years of traveling the world together, we’ve collected a lot of tips for those traveling as a couple. But if there is one piece of advice we always stress it is the importance of communication, before and during your trip. Talking about your plans, your personal wants, and expectations during the planning process is necessary to set expectations and build a great foundation for your holiday together. Discuss what you each want to get out of the trip, share your likes and dislikes when it comes to travel, and try to align on the key do and don’ts.
And don’t let the talking stop when you are on the trip. While you may want to avoid conflict and bottle up any small annoyances that come up along the way, we find it to be much more effective to discuss issues (no matter how small) as they come up.
I think my travel blogger colleagues have come up with some fantastic ways to be a good travel companion. Remember, being a good travel companion is in YOUR hands. Also remember the only person whose behaviour and attitude you can control is your OWN. Be a good travel companion by being the best possible version of yourself that you know.
What are your favorite tips for being a good travel companion?