How to have the best time with a travel buddy
You're ready to explore that destination on your bucket list, but no one you know is available to come along. Sure, you could go solo, but finding a travel buddy to share the adventure can make the experience even more fun and satisfying. Not every potential buddy is a good match for how you like to travel, though. Prioritize what's most important for your own comfort and enjoyment to ensure you pick someone who will help make the trip memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Energy for adventure travel, or not
If your goal is to hike, bike and climb to the top of a volcano, pairing up with a buddy who wants to shop, dine and dance the night away isn't going to be a lot of fun. Be specific about what activities you intend to pursue. Discuss a general itinerary to see if there are enough similar interests before you start firming up dates and booking flights.
- Check out travel apps like backpackr and websites like SkiPals.com to connect with fellow adventure travelers who love playing in the great outdoors.
2. Frugal or fat-wallet travel
It can be just as much fun to travel on a budget as it is to take a more luxurious route. But if one of you has little to spend and the other wants to do things in style, money can get in the way of sharing good times. A useful way to discover whether you're financially compatible is to tell a prospective travel companion upfront what type of lodgings you intend to book. When you're both happy with hostel rates in Madrid or boutique hotel pricing in Boston, there's a good chance you've found a financially compatible travel buddy.
- The private messaging system in Lonely Planet's forum is a good way for folks who meet on the site's Travel Companion section to discuss travel preferences and budgets.
3. Habits, hang-ups and happy places
Beyond your shared enthusiasm for a destination or shared activities, you and your travel buddy are going to be in each other's personal space much more than is usual for people who just met. Does he smoke? Does she snore? Are either of you frightened by heights, dogs or the dark? Be honest about your quirks and don't be afraid to ask pointed questions. Although some habits may not matter unless you're sharing a room, others can make a big difference in how happy your time is together.
- TravBuddy.com, one of the largest online sites for finding travel buddies, charges a one-time fee when you wish to contact potential buddies. You can search destination, travel dates, gender and age, but more specific details such as budget, habits and activity level are shared through private messages.
4. Female-only travel preference
Whether it's for safety, comfortable vibes or from a girls-just-want-to-have-fun outlook, some women prefer female travel buddies. If you're a single gal, a woman who likes to get away but has a partner who doesn't, or if you simply want to explore a new place with a fresh face, a temporary gal pal might be just the right ticket for your trip. As with any possible travel buddy, you need to assess your compatibility in lodging selections, finances and activity levels, but you'll have a lower potential for awkward moments that can happen when two travelers of different genders suddenly spend day after day together.
- Specifically serving women travelers since 2006, thelmaandlouise.com connects female travelers with travel buddies through an online search system available only to members. Through its forum, meet-ups, newsletters and podcasts, the site is home to a large, active community of women who share friendships and travel itineraries.
5. On the go or take it slow
Your idea of a great vacation is lounging by the pool, reading a novel and having cocktails before a fabulous dinner. A travel buddy who's up at the crack of dawn to scope out every tourist attraction, museum and food truck in the region might not be the best match for you. But don't dismiss the potential without giving it some thought. If you share the same taste in accommodations, have similar budgets and find yourselves chatting and laughing in online and phone conversations, you could be the exact buddies that make travel more exciting, more relaxing and more fulfilling.