Traveling is lovely, although easily complicated. That's probably why some people opt to travel solo, à la Cheryl Strayed, who famously hiked thousands of miles alone before chronicling it in her memoir, Wild. On the other hand, I'd say most of us prefer a travel companion to take with us into the great unknown — which is probably why studies have shown that friends who travel together form closer bonds. After all, if you crack an awesome joke in a place without WiFi, and there's no one there to hear it, are you still a fully hilarious, validated human? And can you completely enjoy a stacked plate of breakfast nachos if there's no one else present to quietly slide the hot sauce in your direction and whisper, "Go ahead"? Probably not.
I'm a big believer in test-driving new relationships with the ultimate challenge of traveling together — you know, where you actively evaluate how compatible you two are as a problem-solving duo while out on the road. However, sometimes it's just best to bring along your BFF when traveling. That's some guaranteed fun right there, amirite? OK, so unfortunately not every BFF coupling makes for a great travel duo, and finding that out once it's too late (i.e. you have just bought non-refundable tickets to Bora-Bora) is never fun.
So how can you tell if you and your BFF want and the need the same things (aka "breakfast nachos") while exploring away from home? Here are some vital signs to consider:
1. On Any Given Saturday Night, Y'all Wanna Do The Same Thing
If you're a something of a homebody by nature, you might be tempted to bring a more social buddy with you on the road to "inspire" you to have more adventures. A good idea in theory, but this basic disconnect can usually be evidence of mismatched agendas — which may work in your hometown, but could be a real headache while away. If, say, one person prefers to turn in early and hit the museums at the crack of dawn, and the other's more down to pound the dance floor until the early mornin', everyone is going to end up super unhappy, super fast.
2. You're Comfortable Discussing Money
Money is an unsexy topic by default, but one you must feel OK talking about with your travel bud. What kind of budget do they have for the trip in total? What takes priority — good food, nice accommodations, more direct travel? Of course compromises are possible, but your prioritization of things should be at least mostly in sync with each other.
3. Silence Doesn't Bother Either Of You
When you're with someone 24/7 — especially while wiped out (which will happen) — you're not going to be able to fill all of that time with conversation. And you shouldn't have to! Then again, silence can make some people feel nervous or otherwise uncomfortable. Can you and your BFF sit together in a car or train or on the bench of dank hostel bungalow without the overwhelming urge to have a verbal diarrhea attack? This is crucial, assuming you don't wish to exhaust yourself with simply filling the silence for the sake of making things less awkward.
4. You Have Similar Eating Habits And Priorities
So I hear people who see eating as only "that thing that's necessary for survival" exist in the world — and that bums me out. Eh, just kidding (kinda), but if you're a three-meals-a-day type of human, it's best to make sure your travel bestie is on the same page, otherwise you're going to feel awkward eating with an audience at every meal instead of a food pal. Similarly, indulging in exotic cuisine and trying peculiar street fare is less fun when your companion isn't as stoked about it as you are.
5. You Have Differing Skill Sets
An ability read maps well is huge — not to mention increasingly rare in this Siri-run world. But if you're both pretty bad-ass at directions, yet neither of you understand how to navigate booking a hostel or key phrases in the native language, then what good are maps, anyway? It's ideal if you two can split duties fitting to your respective prowesses to make sure all area is covered and you're mutually responsible for keeping the trip running smoothly.
6. You Have Kindred Social Media Habits
It's easy to ignore the occasional albeit obnoxious pause to Instagram while frequenting old haunts, but when travel comes into play, the uploads quadruple. If someone's social media dependency already irks you, count on that irk to multiply accordingly. And if WiFi service is spotty? Heaven help us all. Plus, taking a billion selfies when that isn't also your M.O. WILL get old.
7. They're Outgoing
Meaning, they won't cling to you when a swarm of babely Aussie travelers descend the same hike. They're open and eager to make new friends, pick up travel advice, etc.
8. They're Also Independent
What if one of those babe Aussies takes a liking to you and, well, y'all wanna travel each other in private? Or vice versa, with your friend. You both have to be chill taking breaks from each other and still be able to do stuff you wanna.
9. You're Both Into Sharing
It's impossible to keep every expense Dutch at all times, so you both have to understand and trust that things will even out. Related: you both must make it a priority to make sure one person doesn't end up eating most of the bills, unless that was part of the agreement y'all made before leaving home. Sharing can also apply to who might have a surplus of emergency granola bars, sunscreen, or clean underwear. Which leads me to —
10. You're Totally Secure With Each Other
This surpasses the underwear thing. You must be assured in your relationship — confident in your open communication so that no one is secretly unsatisfied or even angry. When you're both easygoing with each other to the point where you feel totally certain they'd let you know if sh*t ain't cool, then you're golden.
11. They Have A Good Sense Of Humor
No, their Fraiser Twitter parody account is zero reflection of this. Here I mean your BFF is a human who can not lose their ever-loving cool if things so awry (and they will). Ask yourself: is this person going to be a calm or at least shoulder-shrugging force when unforeseen obstacles surface? Are they going to be able to shake off misfortune and continue chasing a good time? The answers must be yes — and you have to be of the same tribe. Confining yourself with a panicky, negative, angry, or easily-stressed person when you should be having a memorable, rad experience is the absolute worst. And besides, you can have a terrible time at home for free at any time. So choose wisely, use high SPF, and go have yourself an adventure!
Images: Pixabay; Giphy (11)