Updated: Feb 25, 2021
I have to "woo-sa" before I even start typing. So, this thing called travel buddies, just like baecations, I have not had the greatest luck with. But luckily for you, I believe in using my not-so-great experiences as a learning tool to make sure no one else goes through what I've been through.
Now, I've had plenty of friends and family hit me up, asking to travel with me. Now, at first, I was in my petty bag about that. I was like, "Now that I'm comfortable traveling solo, everybody wants to travel with me, hmph! Where were y'all when I didn't want to travel solo?!?" But, that's the way life goes, right? So, I decided I would take a few up on their offer. My initial thoughts were merely: You seem sane, we cool, and you don't seem like a liability, so let's go! Oh, how I have quickly learned, you really don't know someone until you travel with them, and that I have to add more to my screening process!
Here's what my bad experiences have taught me:
Make sure the possible travel companion has money for the entire trip, not just airfare and hotel (the international equivalent to just giving you gas money, but not having money for the event the two of you are traveling to 😕)
Ensure the possible travel companion does not participate in activities that you are not comfortable with, especially if these are illegal activities.
Gauge whether or not this person has proficiency with time, money, and adventure management. Being late for itinerary plans can have plenty of disappointing results, not being able to do everything you sought out to do because of someone falling behind schedule is not cool at all, and feeling like you have to play "Mommy" to someone on a trip is not what's up either. This is no shade to people who go on trips with their Sugar Daddies and Sugar Mommas, but that's not my life, and I'm not trying to impersonate a Sugar Momma.
Know why the possible travel companion wants to go with you. Unfortunately, just like people will use you at home, folks will try to use you abroad too!
Assess your compatibility levels before any plane, train, or automobile leaves its starting point. If you are not compatible at home, you are not going to be compatible magically somewhere else.
Evaluate how respectful this possible travel companion is. No one wants to a misunderstanding away from home all because someone you're with can't respect another land's culture. Plus, the travel companion needs to have respect for you, your experience, possessions, and space as well! There's no need to get to knucking and bucking on foreign land.
Now, I don't believe in putting other folks' business out in the street, but just know this, I am presenting this list because I have a cautionary tale with each and every last bullet point. From people asking me to front their payment for their trip and not paying me back, people attending a trip with me that essentially can't afford and depending on me to feed them, people participating in activities that I was NOT AT ALL comfortable with that could have ended with me making an international phone call from a jail cell, people not being on time for itinerary items, people not respecting personal boundaries, people getting into confrontations with locals, and the list goes on!
Everybody can't travel with everybody. That's a fact, and don't feel rude for telling someone, "No", if they ask to travel with you. Or you can always hit them with the "Sure, but you book all your stuff, and I'll book mine." That way, you will have separate lodging, possibly will sit apart from one another on the plane, and if someone is late for something, that has no effect on you. Doing it this way will give you the space you need to enjoy your vacation while engaging when you are comfortable.
Now, I have a trip coming up in a month that will be with a small group of family and friends. I will be testing out this checklist all the way in Africa! So I will be able to give you an update as to whether or not my checklist for travel buddy consideration is on point, or if I need to tweak it.
To date, my best travel buddies have been the buddies I met while traveling solo in Dubai and the Too Lit Crew. We got the West Coast, East Coast, & Midwest repped in one photo in the desert, right before my first Habibigiving.