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but you’ll have to find your own…

July 8, 2008

Vagabondish, a smart and amusing ‘travelzine’ posted a (go figure) smart and amusing article that offers a few tips for finding the perfect travel companion. Writer Amanda Kendle’s top five tips include having something in common, avoiding neurotic travelers (so so so so so true), agreeing on a budget (yup), road testing your companion (I can think of more than one occasion when that would have been helpful) and  making sure you have “The Talk” before embarking on your adventure.

At first glance, these seem like pretty obvious – and easily dismissable – tips. Yet the obvious tips are the ones that are most often overlooked. How often do we (wrongly) assume that we are on the same page with friends? If you are like me, it happens pretty often. For example, when we are planning a 3 week Euro-trip and I take care of all of the transportation issues and send off a detailed list of lodging options in each city how am I supposed to know that my list is going to be disregarded and the hotels/hostels booked two night before we leave during a giant dorm party? These sort of miscommunications could have been avoided if we had had “The Talk” before planning began. It also might have prevented a lot of the anxiety that resulted when we arrived at the Amsterdam airport at 11pm and were told by the Information desk that our hotel was actually in Rotterdam (an hour train ride away), not Amsterdam. (Apparently “Rotterdam” looks a lot like “Amsterdam” when you are booking hotels while drinking.)

As I have had some amount of experience with both solo and group traveling, I have a few more “obvious” tips to add to this list:

1. Be careful with the number “3.” If it’s a girls-only trip, avoid threes at all costs. Girls are often catty and drama-prone. (I’m a girl so I’m allowed to say this.) Depending on the length of your trip and the dynamic of the friendships pre-trip, threesomes can often turn into twosomes versus onesomes (yeah I made that word up).

Treat every adventure like a trip to a Kennywood or Cedar Point – you want everyone to have their own riding partner. Someone who will do the spinny rides with them or the super fast rollercoaster or sit out and grab fries while everyone else is on the spinny rides and super fast rollercoasters.

2. Unless you are special, do not travel with someone you’ve been dating for less than 3 months or with a couple that has been together less than 3 months. It’s common knowledge that in most (clearly, not all, but most) circumstances, the first 3 months of a relationshp is the ‘honeymoon’ period. All the little quirks are still cute (“silly boy is always running around doing things for other people. it’s adorable how he’s never on time”).  Nothing brings these quirks to the forefront like prolonged travel. (“thanks to my inconsiderate prick of a boyfriend we’ve missed our train”). No one wants to spend their dream trip bickering or listening to bickering.

3. Always bring someone who plans for the spontaneous. I know, it sounds like a contradiction, but in practice it’s not. You know the people that lay out a strict itinerary and insist that it must be followed? Do NOT travel with them. At least not if you want to come back home with good pictures and better stories. When selecting travel companions, it’s essential that you all agree on being open to deviate from the original plans. Willing to buy the last minute tickets to that concert at St. Chapelle in lieu of those dinner reservations. In favor of accepting the invitation from the cute boys you met at the hostel to party in Piazza Navona the night before your 6am flight to Barcelona.

We all travel for different reasons. Some do it to escape the monotony or the stress of home life. Others to experience something completely novel and foreign.

I’m in it for the story. Every new location comes with its own colorful characters and fascinating backdrops that make the most mundane of tasks into an adventure. An attempt to find a cup of coffee becomes a hilarious anecdote involving buskers in the metro, a snafu with the local currency and a lesson in European politics from a ninety-year old grandfather who has seen it all.

Nothing is better than sharing those stories with someone who was there.

(you want someone, like Christine, who will try on gas masks with you in Amsterdam. well, not really try on persay. more like hold up to our faces and say ‘ewww’)

(or someone who will get up and dance in the middle of a trendy Moroccan restaurant)

And. Sometimes. There are stories that can ONLY be shared with the people that were there.

(girls and I in Vegas)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Christine permalink
    July 9, 2008 4:19 pm

    hahahaha I’m somewhat disturbed that that gas mask picture is appearing all over the internet but I hope people realize we didn’t actually put them on (because that would be gross), we just pretended to…. 😉

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