As a precursor to my start of the Eurotour, I thought I'd write about something that's rather close to my heart - travelling. But most importantly, how to pick a travel partner.
I'm coming for you, Eurotour! Photo credit: Duck Vader
Why the need for screening you may ask? Travel isn't always fun and games, unless you're laden with so much cash you can do whatever you want. There might be times where your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, in a country where you can't speak the language. There may be times where you're invited out to a party... but your travel partner wants an early night in, and an early start to the day tomorrow. Maybe you'll end up in hospital (I sure did). Travel partners often make or break your experience. Sure, you can make the best out of anything with a great attitude, but it could have been so much better with the right person.
Really, sometimes it's just you and your travel partner(s) vs the big bad world in all its glory. So here are some insights I've had while on the road.
1) Make sure your budgets align
In my view this is the most important concern. Like most people, you may not be a fan of talking about money. But here's the thing - money is a real deal breaker in any sort of relationship, not only travelling!
Before you agree to spend any sort of cash (or time) together, talk about budgets, expectations and ideas for the trip. If your travel partner wants to island hop in the Mauritius and swim with the dolphins, whereas you have $20 a day to spend on food AND accommodation, you may want to rejig your travel, or choose a different travel companion.
My budget allowed for sleeping in a tent. That is to say, it was a rather small budget.
2) Sleep patterns
Are you an early riser? Is your travel companion a night owl? It's not necessarily a deal breaker, but if you're on a road trip for three months with just this one person, you gotta hash that conversation out.
Meet Pepper, our doggo companion with the ability to sleep anywhere, at any time. Someone tell me how I can obtain this superpower please?
3) Energy levels
Are you like me - unable to verbalise clearly for the 30 minutes after waking up? Feeling stink until your first coffee? You can party for 12 hours straight - but can your travel partner? Do you thrive talking to random people in random towns, but your friend would rather sit on a patio and watch the sun climb slowly through the sky? Do you require a quick 10 minute afternoon nap, no matter what you're doing?
Again, not a total deal breaker but important to note (and to reach agreement on) whether you guys split and have days where you do your own things.
We are pretty much on the same wavelength (caffeinelength?).
4) Communication styles - talk it out!
Do you like to talk things out? But does the other person need space to cool down and think about the situation before reacting?
This is a tricky one and a make or break. Of course everyone is genial and lovely at the start of any sort of adventure - this issue only becomes issue when the proverbial thing hits the fan.
But above all, be open to compromise. Listen to what the other person is saying. If you insisted on your way or the high way the whole time, how miserable would that be?
I'd recommend being blunt, but discuss bluntly only AFTER your blood has cooled a little.
We're not physically fighting.... we're just really bad actors.
5) Eating habits
Maybe the other person doesn't eat as much as you want. Maybe they don't love food/coffee/fried chicken as much as you. Maybe they're a vegetarian? Allergic to meat? Only eat Maccas (that's McDonalds for every non-Kiwi/Aussie).
Shout out to Rachel for making sure I had ample fried chicken during my time in the States.
OM NOM NOM. Food is a big part of my life. Also, ostrich burgers taste a lot like beef.
6) Social inclinations
Partying all night? Or a quiet book and unwind to sleep? There's no reason you can't party without your travel companion, but if your activities impact on the next day's activities i.e. you're too hungover to skate/get up early/do that thing you both pre-booked then this will definitely become an issue.
Solitude is nice at times.
Are you both a fan of talking to strangers, and winging it a bit? This sounds odd, but is honestly a great way to hear about hidden local gems. Or is one of you a planner - has all the maps, has researched the top 10 places to visit in a city, and has pre-booked all the tours that are worth seeing?
Often both parties will think their way is the best way. And again it comes back to communication - if there's no compromise then perhaps both parties are better off finding different travel companions.
Sometimes dogs are preferable to people.
The most important thing - have fun. The world isn't all doom and gloom. Contrary to what you hear, strangers can be lovely, helpful and normal people. Enjoy the situation for what it's worth - there is so much to learn and discover in this world!
To anyone that I've travelled with, thank you for letting me travel with you. I've learned a great deal about the world, and myself while travelling with you - thank you for the privilege. It has always been an adventure.