Since a few years ago, when I realized that I vastly preferred traveling with my friends versus traveling solo, almost all of my travel has been with other people. I'm fortunate to have a group of friends who are really good travelers, but that's not always the case.
If you aren't sure whether you're good at traveling with others or not, here are some guidelines that you can use.
Make sure that your goals for the trip are the same as the other person's. One of the times I felt I wasn't a great travel companion was when I went to Morocco with a good friend of mine. He had a normal job and was taking vacation, but for me it was part of my normal life. So when we got there he wanted to go out and do fun things, but I wanted to spend half the time working.
I felt bad because I knew I was putting a damper on his trip. We had a good trip overall, but in retrospect I think I should have set expecations before agreeing to the trip or cleared my schedule.
While it's good advice to always be positive in everyday life, it's even more important while traveling. Even if you go off and do some of your own things while traveling, you will be cooped up with whomever your travel partner is. If you are positive and open-minded, the energy of your trip will be really good. If your partner has to keep your spirits up, it's an unfair drag on them.
Similarly, be a little bit willing to do things your travel mates want to do, even if they're not exactly your favorite things. This will create an expansive atmosphere. On a recent trip with my friend Leo, I ate at several vegan restaurants, even though I wouldn't have done so if I was there by myself. And he ate at some restaurants where he had limited options. These small sacrifices create a much bigger benefit of making travel effortless for both people.
The best travel groups tend to involve some specialization. One person takes care of figuring out accomodations and the other one figures out transportation. Or one person finds restaurants and the other organizes activities. At the very least, make an effort to contribute to the work of going on a trip. And if you aren't contributing, don't complain about what the other person comes up with.
Focus on spending time together, but don't be afraid to do stuff by yourself too. Depending on where you and your travel mates fall on the spectrum between introversion and extraversion, it's sometimes nice to have some time alone.
Traveling by yourself can be great, but traveling with a friend or a group of friends multiplies the benefit of travel. Besides seeing new places or getting deeper into a culture, you are also spending quality time and building shared experiences with your friends. Just make sure to be a good travel buddy.
Photo is of my friends Lucas, Daria, and Todd on a recent trip through Taiwan. How cool is that train car?
Here's what's going on with Life Nomadic. The site still isn't ready, but it's getting close. I also said that it was close a month ago, so take that with a grain of salt.
The primary delay is that the site is being coded by hand from scratch. It's not built on wordpress, drupal, or anything else like that. Todd is custom coding it from the ground up. This means that it takes a lot longer to get ready, but will also be way more advanced than any other site like it.
The second delay is that we basically did zero work for two weeks while we went everywhere in Panama. Can't say I regret that at all.
Three days–that’s all I had during my first trip to Asia.
I was set to take off just a few days after spending 3 weeks traveling to Sri Lanka, the States and the Bahamas and I was dead broke. A few months earlier, I found out that I had won a free flight to Bangkok from my bank here in the United Arab Emirates and was determined to make the trip happen–even if it meant traveling to Asia with only $300 to my name. This trip would also be my first experience Couchsurfing AND on the Asian continent, so I was excited and nervous all at the same time.
One of the first things that I always do when I travel alone is purchase a sim card so that I can stay connected with family & friends. I arrived to Bangkok, bought my sim, added some minutes & a data plan and headed to the house where I was going to be staying for the next few days. Bangkok was everything that I thought a stereotypical big Southeast Asian city would be–sprawling with skyscrapers, intricate metro rail lines, crowded, dirty and lively with millions of things happening all around me at the same time. It was a complete sensory overload but I must admit–I loved the energy.
Couchsurfing is a popular way to travel. You stay in the homes of locals or expats in cities around the world–for free. I met my host Amy through a friend of a friend who had Couchsurfed in Bangkok a year earlier. Before my trip, I had Skyped with Amy and her roommates to get things situated for my stay at their house. On the first night, I made it to Amy’s house and enjoyed some welcome drinks and conversation with her roommates about Bangkok, living abroad and traveling. Each of them had come from various parts of the world (Europe, Australia and the US) to intern in Bangkok for different businesses and NGO’s and they were renting a 3-bedroom apartment in the Sukhumvit area. That night, as I lay down to sleep on the couch, I remember thinking about how crazy it was to be in a complete stranger’s house in a foreign country. One of the things that always blows me away about most travelers and expats that I meet abroad is how amazingly open and welcoming they are to meeting new people.
Early in the morning on my first full day, I borrowed a map and an old Lonely Planet guide from one of Amy’s roommates and hit the city. For a girl with less than $300 in her pocket, I couldn’t believe how much I was able to do and see. I spent the next three days traveling around in tuk-tuks exploring temples, hoping on and off of the Bangkok Transit System (BTS), visiting wats, shopping, meeting up with more friends of friends, gorging on street food and partying with fellow travelers on the infamous Khaosan Road. By the end of the trip, I was exhausted. I enjoyed every minute of it and even boasted mosquito bites as battle wounds.