Do you really KNOW who you are traveling with?

Have you ever traveled with someone possibly even someone you considered a friend and ended up having the worst or most stressful time of your life? I definitely have and I’m sure many of you reading this have also experienced this. I think anyone who has ever traveled can agree that who you decide to go on a trip with can really determine what your experience will be like. It has been said that “You don’t know someone until you live with them”, well the same for traveling. You don’t really know a person until you’ve traveled with them. Whether it’s a weekend getaway to Miami or a trip halfway across the world to Greece. So many people are afraid to travel alone therefore they travel with anyone who can get the time off or afford to accompany them. Which we know usually turns out to be a BIG mistake. Sometimes this can also can be a really close friend, but through the process of traveling together you learn and realize that though you have a solid friendship (or what you thought was a solid friendship) as travel partners you may not know the person as well as you thought or just may not be completely compatible as travel partners . If you traveled long enough I’m sure you’ve had at least one horrible travel experience solely based on who you decided to go with. Tough lesson we’ve all had to learn the hard way.

Since I’ve began traveling, it really forced me to look at Charles M. Schulz’s quote: “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”, and think about how relevant it is, not only in your journey through life, but particularly while traveling. A travel writer by the name of Andrew McCarthy once said, “Traveling with someone else is a whole different kind of experience. When we travel together, we have our experience of each other in that place. When traveling by yourself, there’s that entire confronting of yourself that is really rewarding, and traveling with your family is a whole different set of rewards and challenges. When I travel with my family, watching them experience the world, through their eyes, is thrilling for me.” These quotes resonated with me in so many ways. We all also know traveling with friends, family or people, in general, isn’t always as easy as the photos you see on social media. If you’ve traveled long enough, you know that finding the perfect travel partner isn’t an easy task.  It can comes with many challenges, especially if the decision is made carelessly. 

There are three things that should be identified and taken into consideration when choosing a great travel partner. Those things are; purpose of travel, financial budget, and flexibility. Everyone travels for different reasons. Some travel for the glitz and social media “likes” from a great photo. Don’t get me wrong, we all want to capture great moments and monuments, whether to post on social media or to keep for our own photo collection. But you have those who only travel to see monuments and to do tourist stuff, while others truly engulf themselves into the culture. Some travel to relax. Like many Americans, we work very hard, so traveling and vacationing is a time to relax, rest and reenergize. Others travel just for fun. When I say fun those are the people who just want to drink, party and TURN UP. While there’s nothing wrong with traveling for any of these reasons, the problem arises when two people’s purpose for traveling aren’t congruent. When the party turn -up traveler wants to hit the club, while the other wants to rest and relax, the conflict begins .

Next is a BIG one, MONEY! Money is said to be the root of all evil and this has proven to be true with many damaged relationships. A very in-depth conversation is NECESSARY when two or more people decide to travel together. When traveling, all parties must be very honest and upfront about their budget and restrictions. If being honest about a possible budget is an issue for you due to pride or whatever your problem may be, maybe you and your pride should stay home or travel alone. There’s no problem with having a budget and restrictions;, honestly, all travelers should set aside a budget. The problem begins when you’re not honest upfront, therefore, when it’s time to do certain excursions or activities, you’re unable to afford it and others feel shorted or put in an uneasy position to decide whether to leave you behind or just not do the activity. People sometimes want to splurge on vacation, stay places and eat things they don’t normally get to do or eat at home. If you can’t afford a $100 dinner, say that before everyone sits down and order. Don’t wait until the bill arrive and become a mathematician.

Lastly is flexibility. Understanding and accepting that everything may not go as planned, no matter how much time someone spends putting together an itinerary. Certain things like flights, weather and traffic are a few very unpredictable factors that we have no control over. So, be willing to be flexible, alter plans a little and go with the flow accordingly. Some of the greatest gems you’ll find and things you’ll experience while on vacation in other countries most times are those unplanned situations. Walking down the street, driving to a certain place, making a wrong turn, sometimes lead to beautiful places and experiences. So, don’t get so upset when plans have to be altered or changed. No one wants to waste their vacation hearing or seeing someone complain, mope or soak in their sadness, most times over something that’s not in anyone’s control.  The last thing you want to do is spend your valuable time spent off work, away from your family with someone who’s moody, demanding, self -centered, rigid, and emotionally and mentally draining. Someone who can easily make your vacation feel like a nightmare. I’m in no way saying spend your money to travel with someone/people, adapt the “go along to get along” mentality and totally neglect or allow others to deter you from your purpose of being in that place. What I am saying is this is why it’s important to choose your travel partner/(s) wisely.

I think one of the major keys to a solid friendship and finding the perfect travel partner is knowing your friends and knowing yourself. That involves knowing in which ways you’re similar and in which ways you may differ. Someone once said, “As with any journey, WHO you travel with can be more important than your destination.” Therefore, the decision to travel with someone should be made cautiously and thoughtfully. Try not to make travel partner decisions solely just for the sake of having someone to accompany you on a trip or out of fear of traveling alone. Rash decisions like that can ruin your vacation, or even worse, ruin the friendship. The same way you learn and accept that some of your friends you just couldn’t share your living space with because you may have very different living habits, it’s the same with traveling. We know who our difficult friends are. Which ones are flashy on social media, but in real life, never have any money. Which friends are always complaining about the bill or something being too expensive. The ones who rather do the club than anything cultured or remotely educational. It doesn’t mean you love or care for that friend any less, but the two of you may just have many differences when it comes to your purpose for traveling and what you enjoy doing while traveling. The same way we have qualities and traits we look for in a potential spouse, those same standards should be in place when looking for a travel partner. So the next time you decide to take a trip with someone ask yourself this one question. Do you really KNOW the person you are traveling with?

By Rahiem Johnson