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?