Whether you like to travel the world on your ownsome or you like to call upon your trusty comrades and troop off into the unknown together; you can soon form a strong opinion on what makes a great travel partner.

When alone, you may pick up friends along the way, but you’ll soon figure out who’s a keeper and who should have stayed at home and perhaps seen a therapist. You may be travelling with life long friends, but you’ll quickly realise how being on the road can differ greatly than hanging out in your hood. You may even spontaneously decide to go with someone from home who you barely know and develop a strong as hell bond that is unshakeable by the time you return.

what makes a good travel partner? travelettes.net sophie saint

Like many who travel a lot, I’ve managed to experience numerous companions on various trips; my sister, a bestie, a boyfriend, an old friend who I haven’t seen in years, someone from home who I hardly know and, of course, complete strangers I encounter on the road – all different trips with completely different people. You learn a lot about them and yourself when you embark on these adventure!

Each trip has had its ups and downs, but it all depends on how you and your partner in crime cope and react. And unfortunately, if you’re not on the same wavelength it can turn into a disaster…. However you learn about what makes a brilliant travel partner, you can soon tell whether it will be a match made in heaven or a partnership of hell that leaves soured memories. Whilst everyone’s different, no one wants their trip ruined by a clash of personalities. So what are the top qualities that you want in a travel partner? Well, lets first look at what you don’t want… 

Qualities that will damn your trip to the ‘bad memories’ category:


We all know the type. The person who makes a big fuss about the smallest thing and the one who won’t let go of the littlest issue – no one has time for this and it can be exhausting to face this day in and day out. Whilst it may be funny to hear their dramatic ramblings at home, it can be too much when you’re having to deal with the tiredness of travelling and other things bigger than the fact that someone stole some food from their food bag in the hostel kitchen. If they don’t know when to dial it back, then it can be a frustrating issue.

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I don’t think anyone likes this trait in people during regular everyday life, let alone when on a trip. They might fool you initially, but when those tales get taller and the proof of their stories gets thinner, just step away. If you can’t trust what’s coming out of their mouths, can you really trust them to be your travelling friend?

Running From Problems

Whilst I have met many on the backpacker trail who have experienced something tough at home, they have all gone about recovering through travel in a gracious manner. They want to heal, they want to move on and they want to soothe their pain with the excitement and beauty of the world. However, I have met a few (and have been there myself) who are running from deep-rooted problems and are expecting the world to provide the therapy that they need. Sure, it could work out well as a break from the mounting pressures of home can do immense wonders, but when it is really serious there’s no point running from issues that are left at home. Because they aren’t left at home – they’re brought with you.

what makes a good travel partner? travelettes.net sophie saint

These issues need to be dealt with and not buried deep inside, as they can’t be covered over with a tan.  Meeting someone like this can be hard as you want to help them, but sometimes there is literally nothing you can do apart from listen and hope that they have the strength to get through it. It’s not a bad quality, but something to bear in mind when the alarm bells ring and you know they need more help than what you (or the trip) can provide.

Control Freak

Hey man, chill out! It isn’t good if someone has an itinerary that has to be abided by to the second – no one has fun on regimented sightseeing! Things will go awry, trains will be late, bus drivers may disappear only to be found asleep in the luggage compartment, rain may scupper your plans; but take a chill pill and go with it! There’s no way you can possibly predict how your travels will go unless you’re on a very well organised tour, so if you’re travelling with someone who will crack the whip when there’s a delay, it doesn’t bode well for an easy trip.


Eugh, this is definitely a downer. How can you travel easily with someone who has a sharp jealous streak? If they allow the envy to ooze out in snarky comments and put-downs, then ain’t nobody got time for that. These people need to grow up and get over whatever is making them want to take you down a peg or two. Not only will it damage your travels, but it will damage your self-confidence too.

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Qualities that will make the trip go as smooth as a dream:


The complete opposite of the control freak, someone who is easygoing allows for spontaneous changes on the road. They don’t freak out if things don’t go to plan and they adapt and are agile with the ever changing circumstances. What goes wrong today can lead to something fantastic the next, so going along for the ride is the best way! That’s the magic of travel, eh? Who knows what could happen!

what makes a good travel partner - travelettes Sophie Saint


When you’re going through a rocky patch on your trip, the one who is empathetic is a treasure to have around. From feeling a bit rundown to epic homesickness, from spewing your guts up to losing your wallet; when shit hits the fan you’re going to need your rock. If your travel partner can be there for you and pick you up off the floor as you wallow in misery, the sooner you can move on from the troubles and get that smile back on your face.

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Tough Love

You need someone who can empathise with you, but someone who can also kick you up the arse is super handy. A power chat, a pep talk, a stern “Get your shit, we’re getting that bus!” with a push is needed every now and then. If someone can get you trooping along, give you the courage to go outside your comfort zone and reinstate your confidence with some tough love, then that’s true friendship and you’ll experience more than you thought you would!

what makes a great travel partner? travelettes sophie saint

Bros Before Hoes

If your friend falls in love, then clap her on the back, high-five her and push her out the door to find him again. But if you happen to be with someone who is constantly on the prowl, it can be tiresome and, well, boring. Trying to have a conversation with someone who has their eyes busily scanning the room for their next target kind of sucks. If you’re a team with your travel partner, they engage fully with you when you’re together and are present in the moment. Not running after the next backpacker babe. They know when to put bros before hoes, but who’s to stop them when they find their true romance? That’s your cue to high-five her and leave them to gaze at the stars together.

Sophie Saint what makes a good travel partner?

Sense Of Humour

What is life without laughter? How can you go through your days without a sense of humour? Seeing the light in hopeless situations is key and laughing at ridiculous events can turn horror stories into cracking anecdotes. To laugh at yourself and the crazy scenarios you two might find yourself in is the only way to get through life, let alone travels!

what makes a good travel partner? travelettes.net sophie saint

Although I’ve briefly outlined the top qualities of a travel partner and other qualities which can make someone real hard to deal with, it does boil down to just ‘clicking’ with someone. Let’s face it, life is not as black and white as a list. You can be from completely different backgrounds, not have a thing in common and have completely opposite style, religion, taste (in food, men, cocktails etc), but if you click with that person then nothing else matters.

If they make you feel safe, if they are fiercely loyal and have your back, if they make you smile in the darkest situations, if they are willing to try new things and push you to try them too, and if they know when to let you have a sleep in, then you’ve got yourself a travel partner who will never fail you on your trips. Lock ‘em down, marry them, do what you must to keep them in your life and onboard your next worldly adventure!

What do you think makes the best travel partner?

All photographs by Sophie Saint

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane