Is your BFF Really Your Best Travel Buddy? [Go! Girl Guides Article]

Crossposted from Go! Girl Guides, where I’m a contributing blogger. Check out the site for more great articles from other freewheelin’ travellin’ girls that go!

Sometimes when you’re tired of traveling by your lonesome, or you’re going to a place where it’s safer to have a friend around, you’ll want to enlist a friend to go along with you. Who’re you gonna call… most probably your best girlfriend, right? After all, what could be better for bonding than a girlie BFF trip Thelma-and-Louise style?

Traveling with a friend can definitely make-or-break your friendship. All your personality tics are revealed, who you truly are as a person becomes apparent and what you thought of as a mildly annoying trait in your pal will get multiplied a thousand fold.

But traveling with a friend isn’t all doom and gloom – it’s always nice to have a familiar face and someone who knows you by your side as you discover new things, and if you can make it through a trip without killing each other, you’ll most probably end up friends for life. So how do you pick the right pal to take that trip with you? Consider this:

Your best travel buddy is not necessarily your best friend or your partner

My BFF and I get along fabulously but we’ve never taken a trip together. Why? Mostly because we’re pretty similar in temperament – easy-going, not too particular about stuff, tending towards laziness. While that works in our friendship in that we’ve never had a serious argument, as travel partners, we just might end up spending all our time lazing because we’re waiting for the other person to plan something.

Picking the right travel partner is essential. While the default person to travel with is usually a spouse or a BFF, you need to consider if your relationship will withstand the pressure of spending 24/7 together in a foreign land. I know of plenty of couples who break up and friends who stop speaking to each other after a disastrous vacation, but I also have friends who I hold dearer after surviving a trip together.

Consider this: can you decide together on things? Does one of you naturally take charge, or are you both passive? Sometimes quick decisions need to be made on the road, and sometimes, you’ll disagree on things you want to do. Will you be able to just do your own thing for a day with no hard feelings?

Some compromise and tolerance goes a long way

When you’re overseas, it’ll be just you and your buddy spending most of your waking moments with each other. If foreign languages are involved, you’ll probably only have each other to talk to, so your travel buddy has to be someone who you’re both comfortable with having long conversations and being silent with. Awkward conversation will only add to any tension on your trip.

You might snap at each other at some point – being with someone 24/7 will definitely show the best and worst of each person. The graduation trip I had with my school buddies hit a bit of a bump when one party decided he had to leave early for a pining partner, and it caused a lot of tension during and after the trip (thankfully we got through that and occasionally reminisce about ‘that time’ over drinks today).

A little breathing room doesn’t hurt either

If your personalities and interests differ significantly, you’ll need to compromise by doing a little of what each other likes, or consider planning your itinerary so that you’ll give each other some space on the trip – perhaps a day where you each do your own thing and meet up for dinner to trade stories. You get to do what you want and someone to share your experiences with after… Best of both worlds!

Who’s your usual travel buddy? What are your best and worst experiences of traveling with another person?

This post generated quite a lot more comments than my previous 2 posts, so who you travel with is definitely something people are always thinking about.

Since my dad was a pilot, travelling was very much a family tradition for me, and it was only in university that I started travelling overseas with my friends. Travelling with family and with friends are two very different things altogether, I think the former could inspire a whole other blog post!

But back to friends – I’ve travelled with big groups of friends, small groups of buddies, but some of the more memorable ones would be the trips with just a single galpal by my side… we definitely became closer afterwards! Also, it’s fun recapping the crazy stories that only the two of you experienced together and creates a pretty unique bond, which is why I say you’ll be friends for life after surviving a trip together =)

2007 saw me flying up to Southern France to visit an ex-classmate R who was studying there. I explored Montpellier, Nice, Toulouse and Monaco and we visited Spain‘s Andalucia region together. Tasting tapas and driving across half of Andalucia in a day, we’re definitely thinking of another trip together if we can ever find a time where our schedules don’t clash!

Jerez, Sandeman Sherry Brewery: We Rock-Paper-Scissored it and I got to finish all the sherry samples while she stayed sober and drove!


Earlier in 2006 I visited P in New Zealand where she was on exchange. An ex-teammate from my netball days in school, she’s one of the few I still keep in contact with these days. Besides our South Island tour, she’s also one of my regular diving buddies these days (when we can find the time to dive… do you see a theme emerging? this is why i was only an occasional traveller).

Franz Josef glacier: P's friend drove us around that day, but we drove ourselves the rest of the time, and this trip is also the one where we killed 3 country birds. True story!
we've braved 13-hr bus rides and cramped boat cabins together... and hopefully we'll get around to more diving together!

I’ve realized I haven’t gotten around to blogging about some of these older trips… well more of that coming up! =)

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