“She’s my Lobster!”
I’m incredibly fortunate to have found my travel companion in my bessie mate Michelle, whom I can be around for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and who let’s me to my thing and itinerise!
I believe that the company you keep is a stronger factor in your experience of a place, than the place itself. And as the old saying goes – you don’t know a person until you’ve lived with them.
Being out of your comfort zone in an unusual destination can certainly draw out the best and worst in people. So if you’re due to travel with a friend you’ve not travelled with before, then I hope these tips will help you ‘get along’.
Here’s how Michelle and I have learnt to accept each other’s woes as we travel the world together.
Respect each other’s interests
I am a spreadsheet queen! The months of research leading up to a trip is as enjoyable for me as taking the trip itself (should I call a therapist?). But the itinerary only works if its enjoyable for BOTH of us. Michelle is more than happy for me to take the planning reigns, because she has confidence that I’ll have her interests at heart.
Be open minded to your friend’s interests; while art galleries aren’t really my thing, I know that Michelle enjoys them so we always throw one in for good measure.
You do this, and I’ll do that.
If you’re both quite head strong individuals, or even if one of you is more outgoing than the other, it can help to delegate certain tasks to one another, to ensure that one of you isn’t being dictated to all the time, or that you don’t clash.
Consider each other’s strengths and work together – in our case I’m the designated map reader. But don’t be quick to pass the blame if you’ve walked in the wrong direction. Blaming one another when something goes wrong is a sure fire way to return home as frenemies!
What’s yours is mine!
Decide between you who’s taking what to save weight on your luggage allowance, you don’t really need 2 x shower gels, 2 x shampoos and 2 x sun cream do you? And most importantly, learn to share. You might have packed something that you’re friend hadn’t even though of! Don’t be selfish here, share and share alike!
Respect each other’s needs
Travelling can be a little exhausting with 3am wakeup calls and waiting around at airports, so it’s only natural that one or both of you will be feeling a little snappy. When this happens, knowing what the other person needs is really the key to avoiding arguments.
For Michelle, she usually needs one of two things; coffee or breakfast. But I know that during our race to find the nearest coffee shop, she likes to be left to her own devices – and I’m happy to oblige. Don’t force conversation with someone if they don’t want it.
If you’re travelling with a friend who you’re not close enough with to read like a book, then be sure to communicate your needs here by politely explaining that ‘hey, I’m feeling a little tired so don’t be offended if I’m not full of conversation this morning.’
Just go with it!
It doesn’t matter how rigorous my research or how kick-ass my itinerary, it’s inevitable that our plans will change because it’s impossible to plan for a place you’ve never been before. Certain activities might not seem like such a good idea once you’re faced with them.
Accept that change is inevitable and just take it on the chin, accept it for what it is and move on. Got some spare time? Find a coffee shop, have some cake and people watch – it does wonders for the soul! And your feet will probably thank you too.
Don’t get hung up on the small stuff
It may seem that your travelling companion is hellbent on doing everything in their nature to annoy you, but the chances are they don’t even realise they’re doing it.
Rather than sitting there with steam coming out of your ears, ask yourself if it’s really a big deal. You’re on holiday, so, does it really matter that they left the lid of the toothpaste? Just stick it back on, smile, and go enjoy your friend’s company without getting hung up on the small stuff. And if it’s unavoidable, just communicate constructively what it is that’s bothering you and find a solution.
Shake it off, shake it off!
In Budapest, Michelle and I faced a 16,000HUF fine for not validating our subway tickets – luckily, we were able to sweet talk our way out of it even with the threat of ending up in a Hungarian prison. Just remember that you’re there to have experiences, and that means the good, the bad and the ugly. So just accept that there’s going to be mishaps and learn to laugh them off.
It’s OK to have some space.
I think it’s important to understand that it’s OK to have a little break from each other once you’ve returned home. You may want to get together and recount every inch of your trip, but the chances are after being with each other 24/7 you may just want a little space – and that’s totally fine.
Finding the perfect travel companion is like finding your life partner (IMO), because much like a relationship, you’ve got to learn each other’s mannerisms, interests, strengths and discomforts . There’s going to be some friends you can travel with, and some you can’t. So these tips won’t guarantee it’ll all be plain sailing, but it’s my hope that they’ll allow you to get the most out of your travel experience and avoid unnecessary disagreements.
Tell me about your travel companions in the comments.