Is traveling together a good test for living together? Maybe. It depends on how it happens. Remember that the most important thing is to get to know yourself and your own needs, and maybe traveling can help!
When It Works
People who travel together because they are friends might realize after the fact that they could live together. After Patricia almost died of a full-vein blowout, she decided she didn’t want to live alone any longer. At that time, she was living by herself in the big house she had bought with her husband. After he died, she stayed there. It was natural for her to ask the two friends who had been traveling companions whether they might all live together. They said yes. They figured that if they’d survived living in an RV, they could live together. Their story is here.
Another shared housing arrangement has its roots in a friendship that started with church and continued when Jean, Karen and Louise started taking trips together. They would talk about how they should live together in retirement. One fateful day one of them said, “Why are we waiting?” For fun, one Sunday they toured open houses simply to get a sense of the market. They knew that they needed a house large enough for two of them to have their own bedroom, sitting room and bathroom. They saw the perfect house that met all their requirements. They bought it and six weeks later they were moving in. Their account of how they did, it and the arrangements they made, are in their book, “My House, Our House.”
Do you have a friend or friends with whom you have traveled? Or shared a vacation home? Was it fun? Did you get along? If so, you could probably share housing on a more permanent basis.
It Doesn’t Work the Other Way
But it doesn’t work the other way. Do not travel with someone to find out if you can live together. Traveling with a companion or two is a completely different experience than sharing a roof.
When you travel with someone, you are together constantly because you are sharing a hotel room. After all, that’s one of the benefits of having a travel companion. You share the cost of a place to sleep, shower, and dress. You become roommates, which is way more intimate than sharing a house. You are together 24/7. You eat meals together. You make plans for what to do together each day. Unless you purposely carve out alone time and go your separate ways, it’s a pretty intense level of being together. It can be wonderful with the right person or people. But it’s not the same as living at home with them, where you typically live independent lives.
Sharing a Vacation Home
A different type of traveling is renting a house or apartment where you are going to stay put. Whether it is a beach house, mountain cabin, or city Airbnb apartment, you unpack once. Most likely, you will have separate bedrooms. Living in the house, you work out how you will do meals with everyone chipping in to go grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen, or maybe you eat all your meals out. There are some mutual dependencies, but also independence. This experience of sharing housing on vacation is a closer approximation of sharing housing at home. It could be a great way to test out whether at the end of the period of time you like and respect each other. But it’s still vacation, you are away from the regular routines of life at home.
Compatibility for living with others requires that you like and respect each other, and your ways of living at home are compatible enough that everyone is comfortable. Sharing a vacation home can give you a taste of how it would be on a more permanent basis. A better way to try it out is to actually live together without moving in furniture and other personal things for short periods of time to see how it feels. It’s not entirely the same, but it’s one way to give it a try.
Do you know people who live together after traveling together? Have you ever been on a trip where you found your companion quite different than at home? Do you have other ideas about how to test home-mate compatibility?
Read more about how to navigate your shared housing situation: Hopscotch and the Art of Making Friends , Roommates: Remembering the Bad Ones, Forgetting the Good Ones