Traveling can be one of the most rewarding aspects of life. We see new places, meet new people and try new things. Because of this, nearly every day is full of opportunities to create life-long memories. How lovely it is, then, to be able to experience all of those things with someone, therefore creating memories that the two (or three, or four) of you can then share together throughout the years.
But what if there is trouble in paradise? What if, after days of long travel, busy sightseeing and countless times asking for directions, the mere sight of your travel partner makes you want to run for the hills? Traveling can be rewarding, yes, but it can also be very difficult, and spending 24/7 with the same person or people can add to the stress. Here are some tips for traveling with someone else, be they a friend, a spouse or a coworker.
1. Before you even start your journey, discuss your goals for the trip. Whether it is a beach holiday, a weekend in a city or an action-packed adventure, make sure everyone is clear on each other’s expectations. If you intend to lie on the sand with a pina colada in your hand all week but your travel partner expects to hike every day, you may encounter some conflicts and disappointments. Better to talk about what everybody wants out of the trip before it becomes an issue in the first place.
2. Discuss what you are packing with your travel partner. Not only are you less likely to forget something, but you can avoid that horrible argument that starts with, “Wait, you didn’t pack the sunscreen?”
3. Discuss your payment plan and budget with each other. Will all costs be shared? Are there some things you are really willing to splurge on? Some things you’d like to scrimp on? Will you eat at fancy restaurants every night or occasionally check out that cheap local place? Unfortunately, a lot of arguments occur because of money issues, so it’s best to set a clear financial plan and budget before you go.
4. You’re finally at your destination when something goes wrong: a bag is lost, a bus is late, a tour is canceled. Before you start spewing heated words in your travel partner’s direction, stop and think – was this really his or her fault? Don’t blame your travel partner for something he or she cannot control. You are both upset with the situation, and instead of getting angry with each other, it’s best to calmly work toward a solution or make other arrangements.
5. Your travel companion does something you can’t help but find annoying. Before you erupt, think about if this is really worth starting an argument over, potentially ruining precious hours or days of your holiday. Just as important, if you feel a fight coming on, ask each other three simple questions: are we tired? are we hungry? are we uncomfortable? If you are any of those things, chances are your annoyance and bitter feelings are more with your situation and less with your travel partner. Stop, rest, and take care of yourself, and you’ll probably forget what it was he or she did to annoy you in the first place.
6. Start a buddy system that can help avoid potential problems in the future. Create a checklist for each other that you can implement before you leave the hotel room each day. For example, check with each other that you have your cameras, the hotel safe is locked, you have the tickets, etc. It may seem a bit obsessive or redundant, but it saves a lot of hassle in the long run.
7. Share responsibilities. Every adult on the trip should take on a few different tasks, whether that be researching a good restaurant, navigating, booking a tour or checking into a hotel. Sharing the difficult or strenuous parts of traveling ensures that everybody gets a break and that nobody resents having to take care of every single thing. Also, trust your travel partner with his or her responsibilities – resist the urge to be a travel tyrant who needs to control each step of the holiday. The only way for you to fully enjoy the trip is if everybody’s role is equal and balanced.
8. Spend some time alone. As mentioned earlier, you will be spending a lot of time with your travel companion, possibly more time than you have ever spent with him or her before. It is healthy and natural to have a bit of time each day on your own, even if it is just reading for an hour or taking a short walk. Discuss this before you leave on your holiday so that nobody is offended by the small respite from each other’s company.
9. Compromise - it’s a crucial part of any healthy relationship or friendship. Remember how you just wanted to lie on the beach all day but your travel partner wanted to hike? You should compromise and come up with a fun travel plan that can include both. The best travel partners are ones who are aware of each other’s wants and needs and make sure to address them – the trip can’t just be all about one person.
10. In order to compromise, you must communicate. Communication is the number one way to avoid conflict when you travel with someone, and you should be clear and confident if something is really bothering you. Don’t be martyr – speak up if there is something that could make your holiday even better. There is no point letting something minor turn into major resentment for your travel partner – if, for example, you really need to rest on that hike, don’t keep pushing yourself just because you don’t want to hold him or her back. With strong communication and mutual respect, you and your travel companion are well on your way to a fantastic adventure. Just remember: don’t forget the sunscreen.
About the Author
Brenna Holeman is a travel writer and photographer. She posts regularly on her blog, This Battered Suitcase, which attracts thousands of new readers a month. An avid adventurer, she has been to over 60 countries in the last six years, often travelling off the beaten track. She is currently travelling through Central and South America.