Much is made about the importance of choosing the right travel companion and what makes a good one. So, what are the characteristics of a good travelling mate?
As the saying goes, if you want good friends you have to be a good friend, and it’s the same for travelling. Having undertaken countless trips with various friends, family and work colleagues, particularly over the past three years since moving to London, it’s got me thinking about what it takes to be a good travel companion.
Here are four things to bear in mind on your next trip:
It’s not all about you
There is no ‘I’ in good travel companion. Well, there is, but you know what I mean. While it’s your trip, it’s also the trip of the other people you’re travelling with. Before you go ahead and book everything or schedule the whole trip, make sure you consult your fellow travellers. Travelling together is all about striking a balance between what everyone wants to do. Compromise is your new favourite word here.
You’re not joined at the hip
I think people tend to forget when they travel together that it doesn’t mean they have to do everything together. While it’s clearly nice to eat meals together and to stick together, time apart can be just as important. Travel means different things to different people. To some, an afternoon nap is a perfectly good way to refresh and have a proper break. To others, this is a complete waste of precious time in a foreign place. Rather than butt heads about it, leave your companion to their siesta and head out to tick something off your bucket list.
Patience is a virtue
While it may be entirely infuriating that your travel companion takes forever to hit the road in the morning, or is constantly losing their passport / ticket / bank card / insert relevant item here, chastising them about it won’t help the situation. Take a deep breath and try to be zen. Empathy goes a long way when travelling with others. Of course, it’s not ideal that your travel mate has forgotten their combination to their suitcase, but try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about how you would want them to react if you were in that situation.
Sharing is caring
I once read that the more we give, the more we receive. A profound concept, and it’s been ingrained in my memory ever since. After all, it’s entirely correct. While you may think that if you share with someone else you’ll have less, the likelihood is they will share something back with you, and you’ll have more than when you started. This is particularly important when it comes to travelling. By fostering a culture of sharing with your companion, you’ll get to experience more than you would if you’re selfish.
One more thing I’ve learnt when it comes to travelling with someone else is that it’s best to establish upfront what you want to do in terms of costs. It’s best to keep a running total of who’s paid for what. Even if you intend to split everything, it’s much nicer for all involved if you take it in turns to pick up the bill and then settle any outstanding bills at the end rather than splitting every coffee and cost down the middle.
Finally, the whole point of travelling with companions is that you’re sharing valuable experiences and exciting adventures with other people. There’s no point in having an “I’m alright, Jack” attitude. For that, you may as well travel solo.
What have you learnt in terms of travelling with others? What do you think are the key traits of a good travel companion?