How to Select a Travel Partner and keep it drama free!
The largest conundrum for many is that they want to travel, but they’re unwilling to do so alone. So the question becomes, “who would I partner well with for traveling”? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic partner. Some of my best adventures have been raucous spontaneous global trips with my best girlfriends. Bar hopping in Buenos Aires fun? Sure! Dancing the flamenco with your love in Buenos Aires fun? Sure!
I have had enough run-ins with good and bad travel partners to have learned the ropes a bit. I bestow upon you then my tips on how to choose a travel partner, or if you’ve already chosen a travel partner, how to keep things smooth.
Before the Trip
Ask friends for who might be interested in your particular destination– Always remain open minded. I ended up in Egypt once and had a great time because it was on a friend’s bucket list and not my own.
Communication– Set up a group text or email so everyone can discuss their overall budget. This will help form some ground rules on how the follow tasks to plan the trip can work.
Divide tasks– A surefire way to breed resentment and poison your trip from the start is if one person starts feeling as though they are doing the heavy lifting of all planning and organizing. This can go two ways, if you are a Type A control freak, you also risk alienating your friends who may have certain interests they want to explore in your destination. If you are lazy, your friend the planner will feel taken advantage of. Either way, not a good start to what is supposed to be a fun adventure.
Trip-related tasks can be divided into a few categories:
Flight and Hotel Reservations– this point person has the task of searching for the best deals and also the thankless task of finding lodging that meets everyone’s requirements. Go easy on this person, and give them relative autonomy after putting in your requests. Its difficult to find lodging.
Restaurants- This point person has the task of finding the restaurants you and the group (or just you if its not a group) want to check out while on vacation. This might also include nightlife, depending on how much you trust the given individual. Normally this is a pretty heavy lift because it involves 3 meals a day x however many days you will be away.
Sightseeing– This person needs to survey everyone going on the trip for what their interests are. This is where everyone’s budget will focus. Always ensure you leave plenty of hours between activities and some downtime between sightseeing and dinner. This will allow you flexibility if people want to go off on their own, or nap before dinner.
Transportation – Keep in mind that this will include sorting the best ways to travel around the city and get from place to place. Part of this includes the best ways of getting to and from the airport. Some cities don’t have Uber, but do have alternative forms of travel (ie. cabify, mytaxi). The transportation point person and the Sightseeing point person need to be in frequent communication as they do their research.
During the Trip
Use an app to track expenses– Things can get confusing when traveling with others. Who paid for dinner when you forgot your cash? Who paid for the taxi which time. Apps like “share a bill” are a blessing for those traveling. You can input exactly how much (and in what currency) you paid for certain expenditures. At the end of the trip you can hit the “reconcile” button and a neat and tidy color coded excel sheet will spit out exactly who owes whom what.
Keep it Flexible– Understand that the best laid plans often go awry. People get tired, tickets sell out, luggage gets lost. By keeping a calm demeanor you can solve most of the surprises that pop up on your trip. And I always say, worst case scenario, remember that most things are not a big deal. One of the “great” tragedies I once “endured” was to miss out on tickets to seeing Da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan. Guess what? I saw PLENTY of other beautiful things, and in retrospect, its alright, maybe I will catch it some other time.
Everyone wants a Photographer– One of the best things about not traveling alone, is that you have built in photo opportunities. You don’t have to constantly ask strangers to take pictures of you, pay it forward with your friends and enjoy having your own instagram paparazzi. One good turn deserves another.
After the Trip
Debts Owed– Make sure you are a good human and pay whoever you owe money as soon as humanly possible. One of my favorite travel partners would usually pay me before the first week back hadn’t even ended. One of the worst travel buddies made me chase her for two years!
Plan the next one 🙂
Hope these tips help you all! I’ve had great luck abiding by these “rules”, and even though my husband is my full time travel partner now, I could just as easily blink and travel with my girlfriends again.