Choose Your Travel Partner Wisely, Wishfully and Wonderfully

By definition, the word “appreciate” means to recognize the full worth of some person, place, thing or situation. It is an understanding of value and cost. The other day, a friend of mine commented to me that she only wanted to travel with someone who appreciates travel. It was a simple text message, but I found her message to be overwhelmingly profound. With my wedding just under 40 days away, I can’t help but think about travel partners and just how important it is to find someone to travel with who appreciates travel, someone who recognizes the full worth of the experience. Without an appreciation of what travel is, the adventure can be vapid and devoid of meaning. It can be an costly journey that could have taken place right at home. Over the years, I have traveled with partners that I didn’t know, the partner of the self, the partner I knew at home and now the ultimate travel partner. Each has taught me a thing or two about the importance of the travel partner selection.

 Travel Partners

The Travel Partner You Don’t Know 

There are travel partners we merely fall into travel with that can have beautiful or brutal consequences. When I was studying in Florence, another student in my class wanted to go to Venice and Verona for the weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was a new solo traveler so I welcomed having someone to travel with even if I only knew them for a few weeks. In the end, we had plenty of meals in silence. She wanted to read romance novels while I wanted to get lost in Venice. When she told me that she had found a great restaurant for dinner, I followed. It turned out to be the biggest of tourist traps, complete with the cringe worthy “tourist menu”. Clearly our travel styles did not match up. The course to and from Verona and Venice did not run smooth. The problem with a travel partner that you don’t know is just that. You don’t know if you will travel in the same way. It could be a great start to a friendship or the end to an acquaintance and a wasted trip. Choose your travel partner wisely.


The Travel Partner of the Self

Many travelers today forgo a partner to travel with and go it alone. In essence, you become your travel partner on these adventures. When I went to Ireland alone, it was liberating to travel by myself. I could do what I wanted and when and no one was there to judge or create static. At the same time, I believe a travel partner can be crucial. I wasn’t really challenged to do anything that perhaps a travel partner would open me up to in the end. It becomes a self-centered adventure. While these can be enriching, they can also lonely. The travel partner of the self is fulfilling a wish to travel without need for another body. Choose your travel partner wishfully.

 The Lone Road in Ireland

The Travel Partner You Know At Home

Then there is the travel partner we know at home. You might be the best of friends at home and then you get on the road and suddenly you  are strangers. I have traveled with people I knew well at home, but once I go away from the familiar, I realized that this doesn’t always work. Sometimes you don’t want to be that person that you are known as at home when you travel. You don’t want someone telling you that you can’t do something or go somewhere merely due to their perception of you at home. While sometimes the travel partner you know at home works on the road, some can fail to recognize what the road can do to a person. It can drum up a wonder that you might not have a home. Choose your travel partner wonderfully. 

I can climb mountains even if I don't at home.

I can climb mountains on the road even if I don’t at home.

The Ultimate Travel Partner

For a traveler getting married or even just committing to a relationship, you have to find the ultimate travel partner. I could not marry someone that didn’t appreciate travel. Appreciation doesn’t mean that they must travel as you do. Rather, their travel style compliments yours. They value the same things about travel that you do and yet, they might push you to see or do something you wouldn’t do alone. When you find the ultimate travel partner, you know you have struck gold.

The ultimate travel partner is wise to the ways of the world. They know the experience is special and they value it for they never know when they will return. The ultimate travel partner is wishful in that they aspire to go places that challenge, that aren’t always the most practical. They wish to travel, the very foundation for actually going. And the ultimate travel partner travels with wonder. They instill in you a sense of discovery, the explorer syndrome as I like to think of it, the idea that you have to risk something to see what lies on the other end. They appreciate travel. Choose your travel partner wisely, wishfully and wonderfully.

 The Ultimate Travel Partner

What makes a good travel partner for you? Have you ever had a truly terrible or terrific travel partner that surprised you?


  1. Matt says

    Love it Suzy! I think how a person travels or wishes to travel says a great deal about that kind of person. Traveling with someone is the fastest way to find out if you get along or not :) If you are a traveler, it is paramount to find the same passion and appreciation in your partner. And if you do, I agree: pure gold.

  2. says

    You nailed it…again! I have “rules” some tongue in cheek, some serious. They are the Gal Pal Rules and I posted them on my blog for all to see. I found them necessary to make sure my travel friends knew what they were getting into by going with me to Paris and because some of the rules have evolved based upon the characters that do accompany me on the trips…
    I hope you read them and find them funny and relatable!
    Cheers Suzy – I wonder if we traveled together which category we would find each other in?!

  3. says

    Sage advice – really think about what that other person will bring to the table AND what they’ll take away. Makes all the difference.

  4. says

    Really great post. It’s so true. I have few people I travel with, because I like to explore things and get immmersed in the culture. Some people are not like that at all. I have one friend that she is my favorite travel partner, but sometimes, she’s my worst. We are so gungho about enjoying the adventure that it’s hard for us to make decisions. However, the flip side is that if it’s a bad decision, we are both at ease. I have another friend who I only travel with for less than five days (because she can become too much). She’s an avid traveler, but we do have differences. So, we always make a deal at the beginning…I will take her to this sports thing or a bar or a military thing and she will take me to this play or museum. Most of the time, we meet in the middle.

    Then, I have my travel partner for life. My ex husband was not a traveler and didn’t have a passport. We took a lot of cruises. Now, my boyfriend is up for anything. He can make a decision if I can’t and he knows when to say that he really doesn’t want to do this thing or go to this city. It works well for us and I like it.

  5. says

    Lovely post! I find traveling with friends for the first time so interesting because it always shows me new completely sides to them (both positive and negative), even if I’ve known them for years. Sometimes it works out well, other times our trip ends up becoming one of the more tense experiences in our friendship. Leadership has almost always been the biggest surprise. I’ve had some friends try to control every detail of the trip, and some who expected me to plan everything.

    What I like about traveling with my boyfriend is that we fluidly take turns being in charge. I like being able to play an active role in planning, but it’s also nice to be able to sit back and let him make the decisions every once in a while.

  6. says

    Great post!

    I think that’s the whole reason why my husband and I work together so well. We just kind of “get it” when we travel. And it’s super fun to travel with him. =)

  7. says

    This is a fantastic post and something I think about often but don’t read about much- travel partners vs. solo. After many failed travel partners, I was being to think it was me and I was better off traveling alone. I didn’t get a chance to do that much because I soon meet my husband. When I fell in love, traveling wasn’t even a factor (although I love to). Nothing was- I was just in love so nothing else mattered. Now I’m in the process of forcing his home-loving butt out the door and on some big adventures!

  8. says

    Beautiful post with many things to ponder, Suzy. And the infamous “tourist menu”, gah, why do people fall for that?? It’s like saying “Suckers, please join us!” and people respond “OK, I will indeed overpay for overpriced mediocre food, thank you.” Of course, like you, I have also been forced into the darned tourist menu thanks to other people.

    Even though I’m married I still like to occasionally travel solo- it’s liberating to do what you want (within reason!). But yes, my wife often pushes me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have and subsequently enjoyed, and visa versa.

    It’s also nice to meet people while traveling solo to continue your journey together, no matter how asinine :)

  9. says

    Very well put Suzy and some great observations here. I’ve often seen people who are like best friends at home become an uncomfortable travel partner once in unfamiliar territory.

    I’m so used to travelling alone now that I often find it a hindrance to have someone travel with me. Being away from home has various avenues of opportunity and comforts. Clashes in aspirations of things to do, required down time and timetables of activity can put a strain on any travel group.

    Thanks again for another very insightful perspective.

  10. says

    This is so true. I have traveled with people who have been easy to do things with, because we all wanted to do the same things and then others not so much. Luckily, my husband and I travel great together. He lets me do 80% of the planning and we will agree on what we can compromise on and what we don’t want to do at all and even if we get lost or something unforseen happens, we can roll with it. Even in the most boring circumstances we can amuse ourselves and have a good time. I think that makes our trips that much more enjoyable and memorable.

  11. says

    I really enjoyed reading this entry: very thought provoking and a lot of truth in what you have written. So glad I stumbled across your blog :-)

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