Being part of a good friendship is one of the best experiences life has to offer, and most women enjoy a robust network of female friends who are close to their hearts. That being said, when it comes time to seek out a travel companion, not all our good friends are created equal. Whether you’re headed to the Himalayas to do some hiking or you’re touring the best food and wine you can find in Italy, the one or ones you travel with are every bit as important as where you’re traveling to.
Here are five questions you need to ask yourself when trying to decide which of your friends is the best fit to accompany you abroad.
1. How Common Are Your Interests and Lifestyle?
Just because you’re friends doesn’t mean you have enough in common to make traveling together a good idea. Maybe the two of you overlap in just one major way — you both love to read sci-fi novels, for instance — but the rest bears as much similarity as Miley Cyrus does to Emily Dickinson.
Really weigh the similarities and differences between yourself and the friends on your potential travel buddy list. Do you both like rising early in the morning? Is she very punctual, while you’re chronically late? Are you a teetotaler to her whiskey-loving ways? Does she have to fly first class while you’d rather score a deal with Flights.com?
In every way you can, consider the true commonalities and places of overlap in your interests and lifestyles. There are few things worse than traveling with someone whose ideal itinerary will always be at odds with yours.
2. Are Your Financial Situations Similar?
Perhaps the fact that you’re a well-compensated executive and your friend is an adjunct professor has never put the two of you at odds before. If that’s the case, bravo! It’s a rare friendship that can overcome significant differences in bank accounts. Travel, however, can reveal heretofore unseen fault lines, and even if your incomes aren’t terribly dissimilar, just traveling with someone whose finances are much tighter or much looser than yours can be quite stressful for everyone involved.
You don’t want a dinner companion who eats complimentary bread while you try to enjoy a five-course meal at the best restaurant in Paris. You don’t want to be the one eating the bread, either.
3. Is She More High-Maintenance Than You?
If you’re considering asking a friend to accompany you whom you believe to need significantly more creature comforts than yourself, please think again. If you’re hoping to stay in hostels that may or may not have reliable electricity, and she never leaves home without her flat iron, you will both be in for a miserable time.
High-maintenance is in the eyes of the beholder, and women are unfairly labeled such all the time. That being said, there is a real difference in what people need in order to feel comfortable on a day-to-day basis.
Fitness is something too few women properly weigh before embarking on a trip, but many travel outings require at least a decent level of fitness for those involved to have a good time. If you’re someone who runs five miles a day, who’s also hoping to spend a lot of your trip biking in the English countryside, don’t ask a friend to join you unless she is at a similar fitness level.
Even if your trip will just require walking a few miles each day, be sure to seek out a travel companion who can easily do that and won’t complain about it.
5. Is She Positive?
An optimistic outlook and positive demeanor make for good travel, and you should practice both yourself. Also, you should only ask a friend to join you in your travel adventures if she’s a generally positive person. Everyone can get discouraged now and then, but some people have a hard time rising above adversity.
Traveling in a foreign country provides ample opportunity for well laid plans to go awry, and while getting lost, having your passport stolen, and getting food poisoning aren’t anyone’s idea of a good time, they do happen. Pick a friend who knows she’s bigger than her circumstances, so when all hell breaks loose, it will end up just being good fodder for great stories.