How to Pick the Right Friends to Travel With
Choosing who to travel with can be an extremely difficult decision.
Over the past few years I've been fortunate enough to travel for work and to visit friends who have moved abroad. On some of the trips, I've found myself thrown in with some of the most diverse and unusual people, all of whom were trying to get along for the sake of everyone's enjoyment.
But this isn't always possible. Following a recent trip to London and Italy, I finally came to the realisation that who you travel with is just as important as the location itself. Here is what I've discovered:
The Super-Organised Friend:
On my trip to Italy I went to visit a friend who is a self-confessed, highly organised and uptight academic. To get up at 8am was for him, a lie-in compared to a work day and seemed reasonable.
There was only one problem.
I had come from London and was ill with a head/sinus/chest thing which had also manifested itself into a gum infection where my wisdom tooth was coming through and caused me severe earache. I didn't want to get woken up at 8am with him tapping on my face every day of my holiday, to then walk around for over twelve hours in 30+ degree heat. We were 45 minutes early for every train and had to run to meet his friends in case we were late.
Being organised when you travel is a great thing. As is getting up and doing lots. But the issue with the super-organised friend is that they have a rigid agenda to stick to and often only break it if there's an issue of not getting something done on time. Case in point was when my friend caught my illness and proclaimed himself too ill to leave his flat for two days.
There's definitely a balance to be struck and the super-organised friend often overestimates the amount that can be squeezed into their schedule but refuses to deviate from it. Also, they're probably not the person you want to be stuck with if things do go wrong. Unless you can convince them to stray from their agenda a bit you will come home feeling like you need a holiday!
The Lazy Friend:
We all have one. Or are the one. If you've got a friend you know can binge watch Netflix for three days in their PJ's and not leave their flat once in that time, you may have a battle on your hands when travelling. My friend who I stayed with in London was like this. Although I loved her laid back attitude when we got out and about, getting over the threshold was a real issue.
On the first day I woke her up at 9am, she took three and a half hours getting ready and only had lettuce and yoghurt in her fridge thanks to a new fad diet. So when we finally left her flat I was famished. We got food and it was a thirty minute tube journey into central London, by which time it was mid afternoon.
This is the opposite end of the scale to the super-organised friend. If you want an extremely relaxed holiday this may be the friend to travel with but beware, you won't get much done.
The High-Maintenance Friend:
This is the friend who will travel over 5,000 miles and spent £3,000 to go to Cancun to improve their tan, "because you get a better tan there than in Europe." Many people also have a friend like this.
Wonderful in their haphazard, overly-dramatic way they always make you laugh at home. But abroad is a completely different drama-ground.
Go on holiday with this friend and you'll expose yourself to all kinds of tantrums if you don't want to spend every day by the pool/beach oiling yourself up like a roast chicken leg about to be barbecued. Cultural things (except shopping) are out the window, as is walking long distances (they will have only brought flip-flops and high heels) and outdoor sports. If you share similar interests to the high-maintenance friend you'll likely have a lot of fun, if not you'll probably have an incredibly stressful holiday without even leaving the resort.
The All-Out Crazy Friend:
You want to spend your holiday with someone you can have adventures with and fun. But not someone so adventurous you end up at the local police station.
Some people I meet I envy for their crazy stories of that time in Argentina when they got drunk and bungee jumped off a cliff with their friend, dressed as Batman and Robin. However, do I wish this was me? No. Some things are incredibly entertaining because they are just that, stories. It doesn't mean you should try them.
If you know someone who has frequently done 'grip the edge of your chair until you skin your fingertips' crazy things and want a normal holiday, this isn't the right person to go away with. If you want an all-out crazy holiday you can take your chances in the hope that you both return unscathed and with the stories of a lifetime. But sometimes the quiet life is no bad thing.
The Forgetful Friend:
If you know someone who has lost their passport while on holiday I would carefully weigh up the circumstances in which they lost it before embarking on an adventure abroad with them. However, if you know someone who rescued a kitten abroad, got in an unmarked taxi with it in a cardboard box to go to an animal sanctuary, ended up at the zoo after two hours of driving, got out of that unmarked taxi and into another, walked into the sanctuary holding it and realised they had left their backpack with their wallet, ID and passport in the taxi, I would think twice before going away with them. After tracking down the taxi with the help of the sanctuary and bribing him to get his things back, he left the same backpack in a taxi one week later. Thankfully, this time it only had his swimming trunks in it!
If you know someone like this they may not be the most reliable travelling companion.
If for some reason this is a family member, your boyfriend, girlfriend or best-friend and you have to go away with them, don't let important documents even skim their fingers or you may never see them again.
The Independent Friend:
I have saved the best for last; the independent friend.
This is someone who is well travelled and street savvy as well as being interesting. They've likely done the all-out crazy friend and the forgetful friend things and learned from them. They will be organised enough that you will get up early and do things, but at an enjoyable pace and it won't matter if you deviate from the agenda to go check out that cool little street market or gallery.
The independent friend will have done their research before you leave and sifted through the guides to find the perfect mix of touristy and quirky local things to do, as well as any seasonal must-visits. They will choose their favourites and some things they think you will enjoy too. Also, they will probably have learned some basic words and phrases before you go and when you get there will have no qualms testing them out.
Most important of all is you know if something does go wrong you can 100% rely on them to be calm and methodical in working out a solution with you.
I'm sure many people will be planning winter trips to the sun or a summer holiday with their loved ones, family or friends. I would say it is always a good idea to identify which category your travel companion/s fall under before you go and work out how you're both going to get the best out of your holiday. And when you can, chose your travelling partners carefully because they will either make or break your holiday.
This article was previously published by HuffPost Lifestyle on December 2, 2015: