Let’s talk about travelling with a friend or moreso, finding a travel partner. Travelling with Natalie seemed like a pretty natural course of action for me. I love her to death, we get along super well, and we are typically on the exact same wavelength. I briefly mentioned her in my introduction to my anxiety; she is my best friend. She has always been around to give me love and support in my darkest times, and always gets to bask in my sunlight during the best of times. Even now, we are 11,798 km apart and we speak daily.
We had our disagreements on our trip to Spain and Morocco, but there was never a time where I just wished she wasn’t there. It seems like that is often not the case as I have met many travellers who witnessed the breakups of friendships during their travels. I don’t think I’m an expert traveller or expert best friend, but I can tell you what worked for us and maybe some tips for when you are deciding to travel with someone.
The most important thing is, of course, compromise.
You need to be willing to bend to some things because this is no longer just your trip, its a shared experience. One thing Natalie and I did before we left was wrote down everything we wanted to do or see. Most of the things on our lists were actually the same such as going into the desert. I think Natalie had more things she wanted to do because of the connection to her heritage, and I was honestly down for anything. All in all, we picked out the top things that were different from our lists and did our best to get to all of them.
Find someone on your wavelength.
I’d hope that as best friends, you are already there. But if you are looking for someone to travel with, you need to vibe well. By that I mean, you need to be interested in the same kind of travel experience. Are you into sight-seeing? Partying? Backpacking? Walking? Hitchhiking? The list goes on. If I can guess, that would be the reason why people have a falling out. They just want to do completely different things. One person wants luxury and drinks to get drunk. The other wants to camp and have a chill night with a few beers. Both options are valid things but if you both don’t like doing those activities, that’s a huge problem. Be super honest about what you are looking for at the beginning of your trip planning.
Understand each other’s personalities and peeves.
This is really important because if arguments start, we can take a step back and think about what the problem actually is, and in turn, take things less personally. As I mentioned, Natalie is one-hundred percent aware of my anxieties and what to do in case I have a panic attack. She also knows that I get super snippy and angry when I am hungry. Tired, I’m ok and I can deal with it, but being hungry brings out she-hulk.
Know that it’s ok to take time apart.
You’re going to disagree. It’s going to happen. Know when to walk away and take some time to be by yourself. Whether you take a walk alone or even simply stop talking to each other for a couple hours. Read a book. Watch YouTube. Write a blog. Anything that will get your mind off the argument and give you some time to breathe and clear your mind so you can go back to the discussion with a calm demeanour.
Find someone who motivates you.
I’m not talking about someone who is going to be your personal cheerleader, but someone who makes travelling exciting. I’m the kind of person who likes to always set goals for myself. What do I want to accomplish? Do I want to be super adventurous and spontaneous? Do I want to just relax and clear my head? Do I want to meet people? What do I want to get out of this trip? This kind of goes along with point number two, but you want to be travelling with someone that has your back, but also knows when to push you.
For myself and my anxiety journey, this was really important. The trip that I took with Natalie was like a test run for my potential travels, to see if I would be able to handle travelling abroad. Sometimes I would think about what we were doing or where we were going and I would become very unsure; I’d get a little anxious. Natalie was always there to be like, “This is something you really wanted to do, so we should just go for it.” Instead of letting my anxieties take over our vacation, she knew when to push for things that really made our trip enjoyable.
In all these points, I mention these qualities that I found in Natalie, but it is really important that you can check all those boxes in yourself for your travel partner as well.
Just like living with someone, travelling with a friend opens up a whole new perspective on their personality. You can really see who they are and you get to witness some of their best and worst traits. Also, I unexpectedly learned a lot about myself and how I personally deal and think about things, and maybe how to change some of that thinking to prevent an anxious fit. Although I am really enjoying solo-travelling, I cannot wait until the time when I get to travel with Natalie again.
I always used to say that I would never want a travel partner – unless they were maybe my romantic partner – but following these “rules” Natalie is someone I will always make an exception for.