5 Things to Look for in a Travel Partner

This week’s post is a guest post from my lovely roommate Vaughn Oliver. He recently went on a trip to the island of São Miguel, Portugal and came back with my insights into what does and doesn’t make a good travel companion. Hope you enjoy his advice!

Bell tower #views from downtown Ponta Delgada. I'm sure going to miss it here.

A photo posted by vaughnoliver (@vaughnoliver) on

I travel. Not a lot, but sometimes. And when I do, I like to have good travel partners. Here is my list of Top 5 Things to look for in a Travel Partner.

1. Similar Interests in Travel

     Of course, travel with people who have an interest in traveling. Duh, right? Well, it must not be as obvious to some people as one might think, I’ve seen it happen before and have had it happen to myself. We all have our own reasons for travel; vacationing, learning, exploring, immersing, etc. And it’s a good idea to have at least a few reasons for exploring overlap with your travel partner. If one of you simply wants to find beaches to lay on, while the other would rather soak up knowledge in lieu of rays, then you’re not going to have the best experience together. Of course, you don’t have to be identical to each other, be together, not the same. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Openness

     If you travel with someone who only does what they want to do, you’re going to have a bad time. I, hopefully, safely assume you travel because you enjoy new experiences and have a general idea of things you would like to do, or are competent enough to discover new things that you would be interested in. If your travel partner isn’t also willing to try new things, then you may be forced to venture off alone, making plans on where and when to meet back up, and having to adhere to those plans. That last part is really only if you’re in a place where you both don’t have access to a mobile device and cannot easily communicate with each other. Which happens quite frequently when traveling, of course.

3. Decisiveness

     Now to go in the complete opposite direction. Having a co-traveler who has unique interests and can voice them properly is a godsend when exploring new areas. All too often one person is forced to plan an itinerary for the group simply because the other(s) don’t feel like contributing, or haven’t thought enough about what they would like to do. I’ve been this person, and while it can be exhilarating to have sole ownership of planning the group activities, it can get very exhausting if you want to just follow a different leader but no one else takes charge. The point to take away from this point and the last is “Be adaptable, willing, and able.”

4. Willingness To Learn

     If you’re like me, you like culture shock. If you’re not, you can skip this paragraph, I’ll meet you at #5. Are they gone? Excellent. So, you enjoy taking in every new sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and piece of knowledge that you can, immersing yourself in everything from the mundane to the exciting, the bleak to the beautiful. Traveling to me is about the experience you can’t get from anywhere else, so I like to take it all in, the good and the not so good. Some of us humans aren’t as excited about taking in and learning, and that’s ok, but I’ve found it can be very frustrating when you are, for example, trying to learn a new language and your companions dismiss your desire as unnecessary. It’s easier to learn and grow when others are doing the same around you, helping and encouraging each other. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen.

5. Conversation

     I may get flack for this, but sometimes travel can be boring! Even the most interesting places can seem dull if the weather isn’t good, or you’re already tired from a long day, or what have you. That’s why the simplest and best trait to have in yourself and your travel partner is good conversation. Whether you’re talking over a cup of coffee, or a game, or a walk, or anything, being able to speak freely and have interesting communication is the foundation of a great companion, and something I consider to be essential to great traveling. 


     What traits do you look for in a travel companion? Would you prefer someone who always follow your command or someone who takes control and leads the way? The world is filled with a variety of people and this is just one writer’s opinion. 

6 Comment

  1. Bonita says: Reply

    These are all good points. Sometimes you want a good conversation.
    This is why sometimes it can be hard to travel with a significant other.

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      I’ve never done that, but I can only imagine.

  2. Rita says: Reply

    I have a hard time finding travel partners that mesh well with my own style. I love that you wrote this. It’s nice to know that this is a common enough issue. Great post!

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      I guess that’s why solo travel is so popular Rita. 😉 Glad you liked the post.

  3. I think the play between #2 and #3 is key! You have to both be willing at times to make decisions and go with the flow, nobody should do only one. That way everyone gets what they want, and you keep the peace 🙂

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      Yes! So hard to balance that sometimes.

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