Tips for Knowing If You & a Friend Would Be Good Traveling Companions

two women making peace sign near the Golden Gate bridge

I’m way behind on reading my magazines (are we the only household in American who gets The New Yorker magazine every day?), so I only just read an interesting piece from the March 21 issue of New York magazine, The Complicated Part of the Friend Trip.

In a subsection, “Whom Do We Invite?” the article cites psychologist Michael Brein’s compatibility scale, which asks:

  1. Do you have similar activity levels?
  2. Do you have the same day/night patterns? Say, does one person want to get up early and start the day, while another person wants to party late into the night?
  3. Do you have the same sense of “time urgency”? In other words, does one person want to make a plan and stick to it, while another person wants to keep things loose?


I think these are three terrific questions to ask.

For several years, my family has taken a summer trip with another family, and it’s really important to think about compatibility — and also to accept that your family’s way isn’t necessarily the right way, or the wrong way.

For instance, the family we travel with has a higher group energy level than my family. Before ending the day, they’ll often squeeze in an extra museum stop or historical site. My family — right or wrong — needs a lot of down time. I used to feel bad about the fact that we were missing out, and wimping out, but now I accept the fact that our families are just different.

Also, I’m different from the other adults on the trip: unlike the rest of them, if there’s a schedule, I really, really want to stick to it. Upholder that I am! But the other adults, and also kids, are fine with last-minute changes. Even though it makes me uncomfortable, I remind myself, “The point is to have fun together. Even if we’re not seeing this giant fountain.” That helps me remember not to nag or complain when the plans start to change.

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