Many women don’t feel ready to do the whole “solo female travel” thing on their first foreign adventure, and so opt to travel with a friend or partner.
It always seems great at first – excited conversations about exotic lands and expensive tours start flying, you plan the basic logistics and you both start packing your bags.
However, without proper foresight, things can quickly go downhill. I have witnessed far too many long-standing friendships and relationships fall apart in a haze of arguments and disagreements on the road.
It’s important to understand that being best friends does not automatically equal perfect travel buddies.
However, with a few easy questions and some simple considerations, you can quickly work out whether or not you will be good travel partners.
Step 1: Make sure that your budgets match and, if they don’t, that you’re both happy to compromise.
Money is one of the biggest causes of arguments in travel partnerships. How much money you have determines what activities you can do, where you eat and sleep, and what locations you visit.
There is nothing worse than being the friend on a shoestring budget and travelling with someone who wants to eat in the most expensive restaurants and stay in the nicest hostels.
Equally, it can cause resentment if the individual with more money is constantly having to bail the other person out.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you understand the other person’s financial situation completely. You need to have an honest and frank discussion about what your daily expenditure will be and what the maximum you can spend on a hostel per night is. You should also say what you are, and are not, willing to spend your money on.
I met one girl on a limited budget, let’s call her Emma, whose friend wrongly assumed that she secretly had thousands of euros in the bank because of Emma’s parents’ income. But it was actually the other way round – Emma had very little and her friend had a lot. It wasn’t long before Emma was being accused of being a drag and a cheapskate. Eventually, Emma realised that she couldn’t keep up with her friend’s itinerary and the two parted ways for good.
When it comes to money, honesty is the best policy.
Step 2: Work out your travel style: do you want to travel to lots of different places in a short space of time, or do you want to see just a few places but in a lot more depth?
Some people like to see as many places as they can, barely stopping for more than a night in any one location. Others prefer to take a slower approach and take the time to immerse themselves in the culture of each town.
If you’re not in sync on this, you will quickly find yourself frustrated with the other person.
Sit down together and think about how long you are going to be away. Discuss how much you want to pack in and come up with a rough itinerary.
Step 3: Determine whether you want to constantly party and socialize, or if you want a quieter and more relaxed experience
A party backpacking adventure is very different to one that includes minimal clubs and little alcohol.
Not going into clubs and partying on a regular basis was something that I felt very strongly about when I went away. I didn’t want to ruin amazing sights and tours by being hungover, and I didn’t want to spend vast sums of money on drinking. Even in the cheapest of countries, partying can cost a fortune!
But there are those who enjoy going out and dancing, and staying up all night socializing. It’s a big part of the backpacker scene and lifestyle, and you may well find yourself wanting to explore that side of the adventure.
Make sure that you’re both on the same page – you don’t want to hold one another back!
Step 4: Check that you are both happy to do your own thing if you disagree on a place or activity
Somewhere along the line, it’s likely that you’ll want to do different things for the day or even a few days. Whether it’s a tour or hanging out with a group of people from your hostel, you won’t always see eye to eye. This is absolutely normal, and it’s important to remember that it’s not an indication that there’s something wrong with your friendship or relationship.
What’s tricky is that not everyone is happy to go solo for a few hours and do things independently, especially if they’re nervous about travelling alone and/or suffer with anxiety.
This is why you should talk about the possibility of having to do the occasional activity solo beforehand. If you don’t, and a conflict in the itinerary arises, it may be taken personally (“Is it that you don’t want to spend time with me?”) and the whole situation could be blown out of proportion.
Step 5: Learn how to take a deep breath and count to 10
There were times I wanted to kill my boyfriend when we travelled for a month together in Indonesia, despite the fact that we lived quite harmoniously for months prior. Sometimes it was because we disagreed on a place to stay, others it was because we both had food poisoning in mosquito-ridden toilets and hated the whole world. On those occasions, I put my headphones in and wrote in my journal.
Difficulties arise on the road all the time, and it is easy to get frustrated and angry at those closest to us, so we need to make sure that we have coping mechanisms and backup strategies in place.
I hope that you found this post useful and good luck on your travels! Be sure to check out the rest of my First Time Backpacker series.
Do you have any tips for travelling with friends? Comment below – it’s always good to hear from readers and listen to other people’s suggestions.
This article is part of my First Time Backpacker Series. If you have any questions about travelling and backpacking, whether it’s planning your trip or picking out a backpacker wardrobe, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can either comment below you can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.