Traveling the world is easy compared to finding someone that will do all those things with you: a travel buddy. I’m personally not a single-traveler – I like exploring new places with people that are close to me but not every friend, not every relative is a perfect match when it comes to exploring. But in all these years I have realized out what makes the perfect travel buddy and I have found mine (I’ve actually got two, just to be on the save side 🙂 ).
When you are out there exploring a new country, diving into a new culture and living the life of a nomad, it is good to have someone that you can count on every second of your adventure and far beyond. It is good to have someone with you – especially in a country where nearly no one speaks English and reading signs and such is almost impossible. Because even if you enjoy this state of complete lostness from time to time it is all so much easier to take with a travel buddy.
One of those moments where I first realized that I wouldn’t be able to survive 3 weeks without him was during the first night in Vietnam. The whole city had been out on the streets as it was National Day and fireworks lightened up the sky all night. It was simply amazing to arrive on this day in Ho Chi Minh. Anyway, when all the festivities had been over we made our way home and normally I’m damn good at finding my way to the hotel – it doesn’t matter I am – so many people say I’m like a compass which always know the direction to go – but this time I was lost. I didn’t know where to go, I wasn’t even able to read the map. 30h without sleep had taken its toll on me. This is where Christoph took over and we were in our beds shortly after. Without my travel buddy I would probably had burst with tears a few minutes later, but he kept me calm. But what are the main features of the perfect travel buddy?
#1 interests & passion
Okay this might be the most obvious thing in the world. If you like someone you normally share the same interests, but what about traveling for weeks in a row? It can be quite exhausting and always seeing the same face can bring up problems that you would have never thought about at home. So this might be the most important feature your perfect travel buddy should have. You shouldn’t only share the same interests but you have to have the same passion for exploring foreign cultures and places. Very important is that there has to be a balance between the forces which are you. There shouldn’t be one leading and the other one following, because this what can make an adventure fail epically and often ends in disastrous fights.
#2 no words needed
You need to understand each other without saying a word. If one of you is tired the other one takes up the lead and navigates, because not everyone is able to actually admit that they are lost. Or if one of you feels uncomfortable with the taxi driver – one look is all that it needs and you get out. The point is that understanding each other without having to discuss first is a very valuable feature between travel buddies. Especially when you are in a risky situation this is what might gets you out safely – believe me I know what I’m talking about. Of course people often don’t understand you anyway but others sense what is going on by your voice and from time to time it is better to keep a little secret.
#3 know each others limits
Knowing one’s own limits is very important but we normally don’t have the same and in some situations one is more resilient than the other. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should know when to step down for your travel buddy and vice versa. Sometimes a little break can be the best decision and soon everyone regained their strength and is up for exploring some more.
Limits also apply for fear and panic. If one is afraid of heights, don’t press him/her to go anyway. Or if one doesn’t wanna enter a market where snakes, frogs and chickens are sold half alive half dead then don’t – because only if it’s authentic doesn’t mean that it’s worth it. Fear and panic are powerful feelings and shouldn’t be pushed to far – even though I’m always up for broaden that limit myself. Never push your travel buddy to do things they really are afraid of – people know very well what they can and can’t take.
#4 know each others strengths
We all have our talents – know each other’s qualities and find out how to use them best. If one is the better organizer, let him/her do the planning of your trip. If the other one was born with the talent of navigating almost like Google Maps than use that gift and he better negotiated should bargain for the best deal. Even if many see this differently there is nothing wrong with seeing an adventure from the economic side – the best one gets the job.
Do you have a travel buddy? And what are the most important feature of the perfect travel companion from your point of view?