• Consider your own level of expertise or curiosity about a site or subject. We’ve always been fascinated by the history of famous art, but we don’t know enough about the finer points of design and color to expect an art collector to enjoy going to the museum with us. Likewise, we can’t expect a cricket devotee to enjoy spending a whole match explaining the game to us, even though we might love to see the game in its British homeland.
• If you’re shy about exploring a foreign destination on your own, consider booking a tour. The others on a tour are as interested as you in the sites and activities, but you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you decide to break off on your own for dinner.
• If you want your trip to revolve around a special anniversary, by all means invite the people who would celebrate with you. But everyone might appreciate it if you carved out some time for folks to explore on their own.
Lots of people have told us that their trip-of-a-lifetime — a roots visit to the home of their ancestors, maybe, or a trip to Rome to absorb some culture — was lacking because their companions weren’t on the same page.
We’ve learned our lesson.
Our good friends are our good friends in part because we understand we don’t see everything in the same light — they stimulate us to see things from another perspective.
But while they may be wonderful companions on our home turf, it might be best to leave them behind come travel time. Especially since a trip-of-a-lifetime likely comes with no do-overs.
John and Sally Macdonald are freelance writers who live on a houseboat in Seattle.