I have said time and again that while solo travel is good for the soul, it is not something I actively look for. I love travelling with family, with friends and I like my trips and travels to be super fun. Be it the Holy City of Jerusalem where I stood with my forehead against the Western Wall, praying and wishing, or Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong at 3 am – I am happy to have someone to share the experiences.
However – I have realized over years of travelling that just about anyone cannot be your travel buddy.
Travelling with family is always fun. My husband and daughter are my favourite travel partners, and so are my brother and my sister. Also, parents and cousins. We are a lot alike and we have a super time travelling together.
When travelling alone, I make friends along the way but sooner or later (in two days time, in my case) I figure out who is a delight to travel with and who should have stayed home.
Travelling with friends, I’ve realized that it’s not the same as picking your favourite movie partner or going out for cocktails and dance. Sitting in your favourite café with endless conversations is very different than hitting the road and exploring a new destination.
So obviously, you need to pick your travel partner very carefully because it is very important to form a bond that lets you relax and enjoy the travel, and can keep you going when the road gets tough.
Be it family or friends, or strangers who become friends on a trek in Israel, or a shopping trip in Hong Kong – there are a few things that make a good travel partner. I have my own list, and I am sure you have your own. It is also important to be a good travel partner yourself because it is a two-way street!
And today I am sharing my own travel partner checklist with you. According to me, a good travel partner should have the following 5 qualities:
- A good Travel Partner is easygoing and chill. Yup, much like Netflix and chill, only better because you get to explore the world and have a good time. Plans and itineraries are good to have but one should be open to changes as well. I once met a Spanish girl who travelled with me from Singapore to Mumbai and we became friends at the airport. We decided to roam around in Mumbai the next day. But she was booked at a hotel that was too far from where I was staying. So, she immediately booked Hotel Sea Sands which was closer to me. Maybe it’s just me, but I found this incredibly trusting and chilled out. While I was stressing out about the time we would waste in Mumbai traffic trying to meet each other rather than exploring the city, her easygoing attitude surprised me. I learnt a travel lesson that day. And yes, she was an incredible travel partner, if just for a flight and a day.
- Sense of Humour is mandatory. This is something that is very important to me. A good travel partner needs to have a funny bone because what is travel without lots of laughter and fun? As people travelling together, you both need to be able to see the fun side of situations when things go wrong – like a missed boat ride that you’ve already paid for, a tour guide that reads out of the Lonely Planet (had happened to me!) or a hyped touristy- destination that sucks in reality. If you both have a sense of humour, you’ll have a good time no matter what.
- To be a good travel partner, you must be firm when required. We all have mornings when getting out of the bed seems like a herculean task, or –thanks to the party the night before – we are too exhausted to function, let alone follow a strict itinerary. In such times, a travel partner who can practice some tough love on us is like a blessing in disguise. I am this kind of travel partner, I think. While I understand the situation and the physical pain of getting up at 5 am after a long day, to catch the sunrise – I can also give a pep talk or a soothing chat. If all fails, I can also be the taskmaster who says ‘Get your ass out of that bed, we’re leaving in fifteen!’ because we all need that little push at times. Travel can be physically exhausting, especially adventure travel, and to have someone who can get you out of your comfort zone is something to be thankful about.
Of course, there are more points, but these are my top three when it comes to a good travel partner. And the MOST important part is – don’t forget to be a good travel partner yourself, of course.
I’d like to mention here that these are points that I consider myself, and your list could be different. But in the end, it all comes down to how well you get along with a person. Like love, travelling together is also all about the chemistry. You can be from different countries, different age groups, different taste (in picking the next travel destination, in cheese, in mode of transport, in movies and in men or women), and even a different inspiration to travel – but if it clicks, it clicks.
Life can never be as easy as a list, and travel is much more than figuring out a partner. But it sure is easy if your travel partner is inspiring and fun, at the same time.
Well, at least this is what all my travels have taught me. Everyone’s leanings are different, so tell me yours.