How to: Choose a Travel Buddy
Obviously, one of the privileges of studying abroad in Spain is the easy access to hundreds of great travel destinations. While I’ve got tons of suggestions where you should visit, it's important to keep in mind that everybody looks for something different while traveling. In the same way that you and your best friend may not love all of the same destinations, it's okay that you may also not love traveling together!
If you're thinking about traveling with a buddy (or a few) there are some things you should take into consideration before committing. And, on a side note, I recommend traveling with just one other person as it’s much easier to combine two people’s wants/needs than an entire groups but that’s a personal preference.
1.) Know YOUR travel style: This is invaluable information that will help smooth over travel planning difficulties from the start. Before you can begin compromising and coordinating with someone else, you need to have a good handle on what it is you look for when traveling. If you’re unsure, check out how Claudia and I like to travel.
2.) Discuss both of your travel styles: If you’re the type of person that can get into the idea of taking personality quizzes together, it could be fun to sit down and compare results on some of these travel style quizzes. If that’s not your jam, you can directly ask your buddy what they like about traveling, what they prioritize when on a trip, etc.
Pro-Tip: Asking them to tell you about a recent trip they took is also a good way to gauge the reality of their travel style. For example, someone may tell you that they will get up early to visit museums and sightsee with you. However, if the only thing they talk about from their last trip is the late-night clubbing they did, you may need to take that into consideration.
3.) Discuss your expectations for the trip: Before you book tickets or lodging, take the time to talk about what specific things you want to do while traveling together. You may get alone swimmingly and both love the idea of seeing the same city but if it’s for very different reasons, someone is always going to be unsatisfied. Discuss not only what is important to you but the degree of that importance. If something is a 'must' for you and an 'absolute no' for your buddy, are you willing to go it alone while they do something they’re more interested in?
4.) Compare budgets: It may sound harsh to say that you shouldn’t travel with someone who doesn’t have the same size budget as you (because you absolutely can!) but it’s important to be honest with each other from the start. If it’s going to bother you that your buddy packs a sack lunch for every meal or, on the contrary, that they want to spend 30€ eating out for every meal then you may not be the perfect pair. While money should not determine everything, in many cases it determines a lot (where you will stay, whether or not you will see attractions that charge admission, what you will eat, what you will splurge on, etc).
5.) Be prepared to not get your way: Even if you discuss EVERYTHING beforehand, there is likely to be something less-than-perfect that comes up when traveling with your buddy. It can be the simple fact that you’re sharing a room and they like complete darkness whereas you like to wake up to the sun. Traveling with someone puts you in really close quarters for an extended length of time. It often sheds light on little quirks that may drive you up the wall. The important thing is to keep your cool and remember that we all have our different ways of doing things. In reality, the small stuff isn’t that important so be flexible and understanding! (And if things really don't go well, consider going it alone―solo travel can be way less depressing and way more fulfilling than you think, so don't be afraid to give it a try!)
Let us know in the comments if you've had positive or negative experiences traveling with a buddy and how that's taught you more about yourself!