Right. No point beating about the bush on this one: there are six people in the world who you can go on holiday with and guarantee having an enjoyable time – though not necessarily all at once.

Naturally, this rule only applies if you are oldish. If you’re under 30, you want Love Island numbers, an injection of new blood at half time, and mattress-strewn living quarters. Once you get to our age, though, the six of the best rule has kicked in.

You’ve probably just identified your top holiday six, and now you’re thinking: hold on, Jeff and Jenny are great! And Mark and Hannah, and... but back up a bit if you will.

We’re not saying there aren’t people you could happily spend a mini-break with. We’re just saying don’t assume good friends automatically make ideal holiday companions. They don’t. They might be too fussy, or total slobs, or serious bird fanciers, or early eaters. There are no end of potential compatibility issues, so your companions must pass these holiday tests up front. You’ll find that only six will make the grade.

Sunbathers or Others?

You don’t need to sunbathe to be a sunbather type.

Sunbathers are natural loungers. They are big believers in siestas, long lunches, horizontal reading, hammocks, eating at 10pm and a lie-in.

Others will be enrolled in the kite-surfing classes, the kayaking experience, and up at dawn to join the native birds tours. Note: Sunbathers and Others can get on providing the Others are a) not occupying the moral high ground, and b) prepared to relax and make merry come sundown.

Similar budgets


Your six will only flinch when you flinch (at the price of the fish special), and this is key to your holiday enjoyment.

Others may be unsure about the whole boat hire idea or think nothing of letting their teenagers buy drinks on your tab at the beach bar, all day, for the price of your families’ return flights. This gulf of acceptable spending will grate until someone cracks because the kitty has been cleaned out by a one-off truffle purchase. Everyone must be on the same page about truffles.

Sea People or Others?


Very important, this one, not least because sea enthusiasm implies all sorts of things. or example: Sea People are not interested in hair dryers; happy to hop in a canoe to get to supper; must be near the sea at all times, which puts the kybosh on that overnight trip to see the ruins.

Culture Vultures or Culture Grazers


If you’re going to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, are you doing the 1.5 hours Swat Team version, with the greatest hits room map, and then drinks in the piazza? Or the full 93 rooms for however long it takes (four hours)?

Same approach to food/cooking


Your six are automatically buying the orange and purple tomatoes, and the burrata from the farm on the hill, because that’s the whole point of being on holiday. Otherwise you get It’s Their Night To Cook dread and, even more corrosive, Someone Needs To Go Shopping With Them anxiety, to stop them getting those weird yogurts and bottled pesto. When the food trust goes, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Borrowers or Sorteds?


Your six have bothered to pack. The Others have one book so need to read the one you were about to start, one sun cream so need to use yours, no phone charger, no sun hat, no snacks...

What constitutes fun in the evening?


Music and finding the weird bar, or bridge, fresh mint tea and an early night? See? Worth doing your homework.