It is beyond expenses and itineraries that we share with people we travel with. We share the most beautiful of things – the thrill of a new encounter, the ascent of a cliff, the joy of befriending a stranger, the majestic view of a sunset, the fear of stepping into the unknown and the sense of accomplishment after conquering your fears. Having the right company can make or break your trip. And we don’t want any trips being broken. So, here are 10 signs of a perfect travel partner.
If you are lucky, you find someone and know you belong, at first sight. Sometimes, the one you are looking for turns out to be someone you’ve known for a long time and suddenly it’s like a light was switched on and you see that person in a different way. In love and in travel, there are no surefire ways to find a partner. It may take a while, but finding the right travel partner will be worth all the good times it will bring in the long run. While traveling solo can also be challenging and invigorating, there are times when having someone along for the ride just make things even better.
1. You can talk about anything and everything.
Since you will be spending a lot time with your travel mate, conversations should be interesting and feel natural. You don’t want someone with whom you feel the need to make small talk or have uncomfortable moments of silence. You want someone you can talk to about the weather in London, the right way to pack shirts, the wines in Napa and the meditative qualities of rock gardens in Kyoto.
2. You share the same appetite.
The perfect travel partner is always “hungry for more”. By that, I don’t mean find yourself a glutton. Find someone who is curious and daring enough to try eating balut in the Philippines, cliff jumping in Portugal, drinking tequila-sangrita shots in Mexico or white water rafting in the Grand Canyon. The heart-stopping, knees-shaking, “I never thought I would do that” moments can make the trip unforgettable.
3. You share the same interests.
They say there is an innate need for humans to be in contact with kindred spirits. It can be coral reef diving in Belize, trying out every buffet in Las Vegas, visiting tribal villages in Kenya or silk weaving in Hanoi, but nothing can fuel humans better than a shared passion that is larger than life.
4. You don’t share the same interests.
A good partnership helps you grow. And you grow by experiencing new things. Let your travel partner open up your eyes to opportunities that you might not otherwise have considered. It could mean watching the Russian Ballet, going to a voodoo market in Togo, searching for contemporary art pieces in New York or getting drenched in Thailand’s Songkran.
5. You feel relaxed in each other’s company.
Traveling is about finding one’s self, losing inhibitions and breaking free from the limits of home or office. There is no venue for pretentious and stuck-up attitudes. And someone who not only lets you feel free, but shares the same principles, is a rare find.
6. Find someone enthusiastic.
Having found the right people to travel with, means there is no need to convince a reluctant friend or persuade a sibling to come along. You do not want to drag someone with you and you certainly do not want someone who is a drab.
7. You can laugh around each other.
Laughter is not only the best medicine; it is also a good solution to unpleasant situations. And the perfect travel partner knows when to goof around and let you take things lightly – when you lose your luggage or when you look ridiculous samba dancing in Brazil. Find someone who starts a snowball fight in the Alps and takes you beer bathing in Germany.
8. Find someone organized.
This is essential especially if you are not organized yourself and a reflex if you are. Traveling entails planning, it can be a spur of the moment decision, but it’s not one that doesn’t have any prerequisites. You need travel documents, cash (and access to foreign currencies), a map, book, or at least an idea how to get around. This also gives you an idea of the possibility of harmonious hotel room sharing. You don’t want and need a neat freak, just someone hygienic and considerate enough not to leave dirty clothes on the bathroom floor.
9. Find someone who can take a decent picture.
You might think it is probably ridiculous to put this into consideration. True, everyone nowadays knows how to operate a camera, but taking decent pictures is a different matter. Imagine you’re looking at pictures of you standing beside the Pyramids of Giza with the tips cut off, finding only the legs of the Reclining Buddha in frame or a picture of you toe deep in the pink sands of Bahamas without the pink sands. Doesn’t sound ridiculous now, right?
10. Find an independent soul.
Sharing is fun but occasionally you need to take a break – only for a few minutes or hours. And you need someone who allows you to do so. Having to deal with a travel partner who is clingy and insists on doing everything together, every single day, every single time can spoil the rest of the trip. You need someone who understands the need for boundaries, because he/she feels it too.
The perfect travel companion is out there. It doesn’t have to be your best friend, or someone you are romantically attached to. It could be a colleague, a neighbor, a fellow tourist or a total stranger. It could be one person, a couple, a family or an entire group. It could be someone sitting beside you reading this, or someone in front of a laptop searching Google “how to find a travel companion” or someone halfway around the globe you are yet to come across. The secret doesn’t lie on where you search, what you set out to find or how many travel companions you have had before. The secret to finding the perfect travel partner is to be a perfect travel partner yourself.