Oftentimes, when backpacking, we find ourselves needing travelmates. This may be for financial purposes, to be safe, or just to enjoy a trip with some new buddies. This is usually the case for solo travelers in places such as Australia or New Zealand. Traveling with others for short spurts of time is a perfect way for a solo traveler to keep car rental or purchase costs down, and to have other people to see the sights with.
The tough part is finding the right travelmates. It’s not as easy as you may think. This isn’t as simple as looking through the Facebook backpacker pages and saying you’ll travel with someone. There are a number of important factors you should discuss before committing to spending the next few weeks/months with people you don’t know.
Seriously, take this into consideration. Have a conversation with the people in question beforehand. Try to meet in person! You can get a sense of someone pretty early on, and in this case, go with your gut feeling.
Opposite personalities don’t have to be a bad thing, but if you find you’ll clash with the person in terms of social/anti-social, party person/non party person, etc, then you should reconsider. Some people are very high maintenance, and some can roll out of bed and be ready. If you can make it work, then go ahead. Otherwise, consider how long in the morning you’ll have to wait around for the other person.
Compromise and communication are very important when it comes to traveling with people you just met. If one travel mate is an early bird and loves to chat first thing in the morning, it’s important to realize your other travel mate may need their quiet time. Understand that travel mates can do separate activities if need be, especially if one person wants to party, and then other would rather stay in. Communicating prevents any bad feelings and surprises.
Always have a long conversation with potential travel mates about your expectations for your trip. Do you have must-see places? Any places you plan to skip? Exactly how much time would you like to spend on the road? Are you conformable camping or would you rather take a bus and find hostels?
There are a lot of discussion topics when finding a travelmate, and you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you don’t get to experience the country the way you want. If you go in with few expectations and are fine taking it day by day, then you might have an easier time compromising. Those who already have a plan usually want to follow it more closely. If you are okay with doing what the other person wants to do, then it will be fine! Otherwise, find people who will happily take the trip as it come.
Be clear with your potential mates if you are on a tight budget, or want to spend a little more freely. Some people are happy going out to eat a lot, and others would prefer to always make their own food. This could also factor into whether you’d like to rent a small car and camp, or rent a camper van and have self contained accomodation.
The best way to keep track of spending money when travel mates are sharing the costs, is to write down the money spent by each travemate, and add it all up at the end. From there, it will be much easier to split the costs evenly. Always keep receipts just in case.
Discuss the food budget before setting off. If you can agree to eat the same foods and have a similar eating schedule, it will be much cheaper to split the food costs. To keep extra costs down, find a Facebook backpacking page and pick up cheap camping gear and cooking equipment. You can easily find a bunch of stuff for under $50. This is a great way for new travel mates to budget their trip.
Overall, remember to either talk to the person on the phone, or meet them in person if possible. You want to be safe and sure that they are the one. You could be spending an obscene amount of time with them, and it’s important to get a sense of how they will be. Always go with your gut. Have you ever found the perfect travelmate?