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What Makes a Great Travel Mate?

I'm not talking about spouses, or partners, or significant others today. Nope. I'm talking about the qualifications of the perfect playful platonic fellow adventurer! What are the qualities of a great travel mate? Read on!

Yesterday I was messaging back and forth with my very good friend Gro. She is my my travel bestie and every year we take at least one trip together.

We’ve toured Scandinavia, Belgium, Portugal and Peru. This year we're planning two trips: Vancouver in late spring and Greece in the fall. I am so fortunate to have found a great travel mate, one as adventurous as me. She's a dear friend, we love being together, and we check every compatibility box as travel mates.

What makes our relationship so great? Here's our list:

Open communication. Gro and I are in constant communication about what we want to see, taste, and experience wherever we go. When we visited Portugal together, she wanted to stop in Albufeira where she had spent time in her youth. For her, it was nostalgic so I went along. I wanted to spend time at the beach in Lagos and see the tile museum in Lisbon, so she indulged me. We respect each other's desires and share our needs as we travel together each day.

Agreeable on expenditures. Gro and I have no problem flying cheap in coach on the red-eye, and we are totally cool staying in a budget hotel or inexpensive Airbnb. We both agree just getting there is what matters. Having a clean place to sleep and shower is all we really want. We don't need anything fancy. We don't count pennies, or who owes who a certain number of cents. We keep a generic idea in dollars of who's paid for what and discuss is as we go. "Oh you paid for the hotel last night, so lunch and dinner is on me." Like that. It all works out in the end. We'd rather enjoy ourselves and each other's company than get stingy about money.

Relaxed and go-with-the-flow. It's essential that you vibe with the person you're traveling with. Gro and I are anti-drama, we don't like complaining, and we pretty much roll with anything that goes wrong. We have great talks and share a lot of laughs. So many of our funny memories are from things not going as planned, like taking the wrong tram in Ghent or getting lost in the Alfama desperately seeking an ATM. We're open to new experiences and like talking to new people, so we generally go with whatever feels fun in the moment.

Compatible energy level. Gro and I like to walk a lot, up to 10 miles a day. Walking is our preferred way to explore a city, but we also have fun riding buses, trains, or bicycles depending on where we're going. We pick and choose where we kinda-sorta want to go and then we just head in that direction. Sometimes we get up early, sometimes we sleep in, depending on the day. We will walk for a few hours, rest our feet at a cafe, then walk for a few more hours, then go back to our accommodation to rest a little more, then go back out for the evening. Some nights we're out late, some nights we go to bed earlier, it all depends! Having someone with a compatible energy level is key!

Understanding of phone and alone time. We allow for time to call home and to edit photos and post on social media. We like to check our phones for updates and send messages so we give each other 20-30 minutes a few times a day. We also understand the need for down time when we're not talking when we shower, listen to music, or just rest. We've developed a pattern where we take time alone for ourselves in silence both morning and night.

Food preferences and dietary concerns. Gro is allergic to shellfish so we pay close attention to menus. We both like coffee in the morning and prefer a small breakfast. We don't need fancy restaurants, we have no problem grabbing takeaway from a street vendor or cafe. We like to pause in the afternoon for coffee or a beer to people watch in open squares or bistros. We prefer a light meal in the evening when we often share a bottle of wine. We are in a groove when it comes to when and what we eat which makes it really easy to eat and drink as we explore.

Balance between rest and exploration. Let's face it, travel is exhausting and sleep is necessary, but when you're in a new place you've never been before it's exciting to want to get out as soon as possible. Often when we arrive if it's not too late, we will head out to walk around and grab dinner or pop into a bar or club if they have music. Then we will get a good night's sleep in anticipation of the next day's adventure. We know that good communication and respecting each other's needs is the key to having a great day to day experience together!

with Gro at the Viking Museum in Oslo

Chime in, what do you have to say? What do you believe are the qualities of a great travel mate?


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