Travel With The Yen To Your Yang! 5 Tips for Picking The Best Travel Buddy

Travel buddies!  We’ve all seen or experienced them – the good, the obnoxious, and the yen to your yang!  The best travel buddy I’ve had so far was an acquaintance that I had met and spent only one evening with prior to our rendezvous in London.  Between the city and our compatible travel styles it was the perfect fit and we had a great time!  On the other hand, I’ve had an experience or two with travel buddies that were quite the opposite, resulting in some travel days being less than enjoyable.

This left me wondering, what makes someone a good travel buddy?  How can you possibly know that someone who is pleasant to be around locally has the potential to turn into travelerzilla when on the road? Well, I’ve come up with 5 things to consider that will help you pick a travel buddy that is the yen to your yang! Most of these suggestions require observance on your part when you’re just hanging around town with your pals. So pay attention travelers!

Paris Travel Buddies

What type of trip are you planning?  First and most importantly, understand that the type of trip that you plan will largely determine who has the potential to be the perfect travel buddy.  What do I mean by “type of trip”?  Well, depending on the country / state that you visit and your intent, the activities may vary.  For example, if you’ve planned a trip that is physically demanding, then the best candidates would be individuals who are in good physical condition and who enjoy challenging themselves.  Conversely, if you plan to sleep in late every day and explore without a preplanned itinerary then you’ll need a travel buddy who knows how to relax and who doesn’t require structure.  Getting this right will save you a lot of frustration.

Mykonos

Does your potential travel buddy have the “When in Rome…” mentality? We know that customs are different everywhere you go.  So it’s important to know that your travel buddy is willing to adjust to local customs – as long as it doesn’t land you in jail!  For example, in America, we are very big on taking a place in line when we need assistance (cueing).  Getting in front of other people who were in line before you is considered rude by American standards.  However, when traveling abroad, there are some places where standing in lines is not the local custom.  You must jump in and get assistance when you see an opening and this is acceptable.  Also, service customs at eateries may vary.  You should know that your travel buddy is willing to make the adjustment with ease – even when they’re disappointed.  Otherwise you could find yourself a spectacle in a foreign land with a very red face.

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Love Wall in Paris

Is your travel budget compatible?  You must also consider budget compatibility with your potential travel buddy.  If you can afford to pay for unplanned activities or upgrade an excursion during your journey, will your potential travel buddy be able to do the same or do they have to stick to a set budget?  Do you prefer to travel high end all the way?  While to the contrary, your potential travel buddy can only afford economy or may be overly frugal and prone to make a stink about how they could be saving the money every time you pay for something. It’s important to think about how these preferences will impact the activities that you can experience with your potential travel buddy.  So I strongly recommend discussing your travel budget before committing to a travel collaboration.

Will your potential travel buddy rebound from disappointment quickly? Seasoned travelers know that the best laid plans may not come to fruition when you’re on the road. So you must consider the temperament of travel buddy candidates. If it rains on the day you’ve planned a picnic, is your potential travel buddy flexible enough to look forward to engaging in alternative activities that day? Or will your rained out picnic serve as cause for complaint for the rest of the day?  This year, my sister (Dia), who is normally healthy, had a cold that resulted in bronchitis while we were in Las Vegas.  It was so bad that she slept all day for 3 days.  So although we were on vacation, we had to care for her and ended up taking her to an urgent care facility for treatment.  We did have to forgo a few of the things we planned and shorten some of our days of activity.  But fortunately, we had a great travel squad.  So despite the unforseen occurrence, everyone still had a great time and Dia was grateful that we took care of her guilt-free.  So I’ve learned that it’s more enjoyable to travel with someone who can roll with the tide and view mishaps as simply a new travel story to be told.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Make no mistake, picking the right travel buddy can set the tone for having either a wonderful time or really putting a damper on your experience. So give yourself permission to be selective about your travel buddy so that you can enjoy your investment to the full. Now that you have some guidelines for picking the best travel buddy, put this criteria to the test and let me know if you find the yen to your yang for your next excursion.

What criteria do you use when deciding on a travel buddy?  Share your ideas. I’d love to hear them!

The Observant Excursionist

Connect with me on Instagram @theobservantexcursionist to follow my journey.

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Ready, Set, Vacation!

Just the thought of vacation can lower blood pressure, soften a clenched jaw and conjure images of you relaxing with your favorite drink pool side or exploring some ancient ruin! For travel junkies like myself, vacation evokes pure adrenaline and the feeling of butterflies and bliss from simply the idea of discovering something new!  Even planning vacation is an intellectually exciting journey for a travel enthusiast.  I get excited by reading about sites that I’ll see, activities I’ll engage in and at the idea of slowing down the pace of my daily routine.  

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You see, for me, the most important part of vacation is all about decompression – giving my mind and body a reprieve from the demands of every day life, taking time to reflect, meditate and re-balance.  So, when developing my itinerary, I abandon the urge to fill every hour of the day with activities.  Instead, I identify things that I’m interested in, scheduling only activities that have limited business hours or that require a reservation. This approach has allowed me to experience my vacations in a more meaningful way.  Exploring and completely recharging mind and body within a 3-4 week time frame.  There’s nothing like strolling through a foreign city taking in the sights and smells and interacting with natives without a time constraint. Strategically, lingering at a historic site, pondering the past, present and future.  Or sitting on a park bench watching young ducks, observing creation without the self-imposed anxiety of scurrying off to the next activity.  The art of decompressing may also include sleeping in late a few days, praying and meditating before my feet hit the floor in the morning (without feeling like I’m racing against the clock), reading, journaling, having a leisurely breakfast, preparing a meal with or for my travel companions/host, taking a leisurely stroll – chatting with the  natives, or getting in some alone time (priceless for an introvert).  I take one-day-at-a-time. A luxury that I don’t have in the real world.  So that as I’m exploring a city, I’m energized for my next journey.  These are just a few things that feed my soul. I’ve found that this approach to vacation even heightens the cultural experience because I’ve allowed myself time to ponder on each new experience.  As my vacation draws to an end, I find that instead of dreading return to my life, I’ve been recharged for my next lap in the proverbial rat race.   

However, in traveling with and speaking to fellow travel enthusiasts, I’ve learned that most have a preferred travel style that is significantly different from my own.  Some approach their vacation itinerary like a job, preparing a folder with tabs for every day of the week that contains a list of activities for each day, including assigned times for each activity.  Some store their “folder” of activities mentally.  Others approach their vacation as if they’re a contestant on “The Amazing Race”. Cramming as much as they can into one day – waking up at 7:00 a.m. in an effort to be among the first tourists at an attraction. They stay there just long enough to take a selfie and check it off their bucket list before scampering off to the next site.  Then they repeat the cycle, only to return from vacation burned out – needing yet another vacation.  Are any of these your preferred travel style?  Or do you see yourself somewhere in the middle of this spectrum?                                                                                                           

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What ever your preferred travel style is doesn’t matter!  All that really counts is your enthusiasm to step outside of your normal routine to see the world.  Don’t delay!  There’s a whole lot of it!           

The Observant Excursionist 

Connect with me on Instagram @theobservantexcursionist to follow my journey.