I am very fussy when it comes to choosing an expedition partner because it is one of the most (if not the most) important choices to make, and one which is so easy to overlook.
I’ve got it wrong before and I apply a very strict criteria to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
I’ve boiled it down to 5 pieces of hard-earned advice, so you don’t make the same mistake.
1. I believe that the most important rule is to pick the partner based on character rather than skill. My first ever expedition to the Kep Islands was almost a failure, and towards the end we had daily arguments, silences and tears. Although we had every skill ticked – medic, leader, photographer etc., we were very different people. You will have to spend virtually every moment together, and if you’re lucky you’ll have a tent between you.
2. To find out if someone is a good fit, go away with them for a weekend. And choose to go in challenging conditions. If you can survive the rain, mud and cold together, then you are probably a good match.
3. You will both need to be comfortable with silence and being alone. You will be exhausted and have no will to talk and if you cannot feel comfortable with this, your downtime will cause more stress than it relieves.
4. They need to have a sense of humour in the same area as yours. Not being able to see the funny side means things are taken too seriously, and a falling outs can occur easily.
5. You both need to be able to say anything to the other, especially something which has bothered you. You WILL get to each other and this anger needs to be expressed, otherwise it will fester and become distorted.
Nobody fit this criteria in the planning stage of my current hitchhiking adventure around the world, so I just left to do it solo. It was only recently, after 18 months, that I found a suitable partner.
I hope you enjoyed this weekly article, please add your thoughts to the comments!