When we decide to drop guap, take time off of work, and neglect a long list of to-do’s for a vacation, we are betting on a positive return on our travel investment. Traveling is always a gamble because life is a gamble. And we gamble a lot while traveling.
Should I eat the $1 bahn mi off a Ho Chi Minh City street from a cart whose Zagat score would probably be a negative 10?
Should I get into a cab in Mexico City when I don’t speak Spanish and have just finished binging season 1 of “Queen of the South” on Netflix?
Should I entertain a man who wants to “show me his Morocco” when I have no cell service and no “in case something pops off” plan?
These are all gambles I or my friends have taken while traveling solo. However, the most frightening travel gamble, in my opinion, is deciding NOT to travel alone and choosing a travel companion. How do you choose a travel partner who’ll be a fun, down for whatever addition to your dream trip? How do you guarantee you’ll get a positive return on your investment?
1. Get real
Begin by being completely selfish. Ask yourself, if this were my only chance to do this particular trip, what would I do? How would I spend my time? What would I avoid? Then, be honest. Take these thoughts to your travel companion, providing them with the reasoning behind each of your must-do/must-see items. While being open to compromise is awesome, do not forget that you have personally invested in this vacation and you deserve to live it up your way! If anything, you and your friend can split up for a portion of the trip to cross things off of your personal bucket lists.
2. Get close
Let’s be honest: how well do you know your potential travel companion? Do you know what they’re currently struggling with or rejoicing over? Traveling is an emotional experience! It combines situations that are full of stress and anxiety with experiences that are breath-taking and beautiful. So, naturally, there will be a lot of emoting—all.over.the.place. Make sure you know and understand the mental, physical, and spiritual state of your travel companion because, good or bad, whatever your friend is going through will affect your trip and how you travel with one another.
3. Get Turnt
Prepping and planning a trip with another fully-functioning, autonomous adult is hard work! There will be disagreements and awkward pauses, followed by a steadily declining bank account balance. Don’t wait for the trip to de-stress—celebrate now! Ahead of your trip, fellowship with your travel partner. Go on a hike, grab a drink, go to dinner—do something to celebrate the beautiful privilege it is to drop guap, take time off of work, and neglect a long list of to-do’s to go on what will hopefully be a beautiful vacation.
This will also be your last chance to see if you actually like the person you’ve decided to travel with.
Good luck, girl.
Born and raised in Bridgeport, CT, I grew up eating pernil with my Puerto Rican homies, greeting my Korean neighbors with a bow, and navigating my way through the rich ethnic and fiscal diversity that is Fairfield County. My transnational upbringing left me with an overwhelming taste for travel, exploration, and learning about cultures outside my own.
I am a community builder, a social justice warrior, a lover of K-pop and Celia Cruz, and a fundraiser by profession. On any given weekday you can find me in CT, writing grants and planning events. But on the weeknd, I grow wings - who knows where I’ll be next?
WHERE I’VE BEEN
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Mong Lin, Myanmar
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Chau Doc, Vietnam
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Seoul, South Korea