"A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles."Putting up something as heavy as the philosophy mentioned above does exert undue pressure on you, doesn't it? Those who are travelers at heart don't really mind jet-setting anywhere by themselves, but there are times (work pressures, heartbreaks, etc.) when you know you'd love it better with a little company.
Which is what gets us where we are. So, how does one nail the right travel companion? Is it just sheer luck? Or just an endless ordeal involving trial and error? Well, it's a bit of both, actually. But you can better your chances by reading what follows.
How do you find a companion?
The obvious choice is to pick one among people you already know. This includes the usual―relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
If for some reason, none of these make the cut, you do have the choice to pick your partner(s) online. There are specific websites dedicated to the cause, like travel buddies, which help you get in touch with like-minded travel partners. Mind you, opt for this only if you have absolutely no qualms with taking a trip with strangers. Well-known forums such as those on Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet may also be of help.
And how do you know he or she is the one?
Well, obviously you don't, unless you actually set out to travel. There are various qualities that we'd want our travel buddy to have, but in a real-world situation, it's best that we stay rooted with accepting the essentials. So, while we can go on and on with the ideal requirements, we simply cannot do without the following qualities.
He or she truly likes to travel.
Yes, it's a duh! point to begin with, but believe me, there are hundreds of people who are just in love with the idea of travel, than actually traveling. They speak of exotic places and dream of visiting them, but are weary of leaving their cul-de-sac when it comes to it. Going on a trip with someone like this, (assuming that they do come along) is akin to running a three-legged race with a stone-drunk person.
Also, traveling involves a lot of uncertainties―a room with a spider, trains/planes/buses that never arrive as scheduled, and attractions that are complete rip-offs. You'd want to go with someone who accepts this as part of the journey (however grudgingly), and moves on to the next adventure (this is probably the mark of the perfect traveler).
If you manage to find a person like this, cling to them for life, after you've confirmed that he/she genuinely wants to go where you're going. You wouldn't want an Ibiza/Phuket type to come meditate with you in the Himalayas, would you?
Is like-minded, but not a clone.
Finding a like-minded partner is like a dream come true for us, in the unlikely event that it does happen. However, you wouldn't want that person to be your supposed personality-twin. Well, you need someone with different ideas and a perspective that's not your own. Someone who manages to enhance your travel experience, and vice versa. In short, someone who ends up bettering your brand of crazy.
Allows you some space.
Your buddy needs to be mindful of the fact that you won't be joined at the hip throughout the duration of your journey (because you're not on a honeymoon here). You both need to chart your own course for a certain duration, when one wants to go to the museum, and the other wants to hit the beach. Travel buddies don't have to do everything together―and that's the beauty of their partnership. A no-holds-barred time off from each other ought to be a part of the trip. And mind you, this has got to be amicable.
But doesn't mind being in proximity to you.
Travel buddies may need to share rooms, tents, and bathrooms, be next to each other on long, tiring journeys, and end up not wanting to kill each other. Bodily habits can be a major bone of contention between travel partners, which is why, it's better to be very clear about one's level of tolerance upfront. Familiarity offers a certain level of comfort, but too much of it may also breed contempt. Be open about what you can and cannot stand, and you should be just fine, if not entirely happy.
Finally, it should just click!
No matter what, you should never ignore that little voice in your head, if it begins to warn you. Everyone's sixth sense is capable enough to gauge a rank stranger, or even a known person. So, if your heart and your mind is not in it, abandon the plan. Go solo if you please, but don't be pressured or pressure someone else to go on a holiday. It usually ends up among the decisions you'd regret for a long time.
There are far too many qualities an ideal travel mate should have. But if these points aren't ticked off, you might as well tick off the entire trip.