How To Travel With Someone And Not Kill Them

How to travel with someone and not want to kill them
So you want to see the world and you’re determined that the best person to see it with you in your BFF.  Or co-worker.  Or college roommate.  Here’s how to travel with someone and still actually like them once the trip is over! Travel buddies can be a positive experience!

How to Get Along with your Travel Buddy

Schedule independent time away from your travel buddies

Spending 24 hours a day with someone (anyone!) isn’t easy.  Make sure that you have a bit of time to yourself every day. Peruse the market, go check your email, read a book in a cafe. Having time alone will keep you sane and make you appreciate your travel buddy all the more.Be super honest from the beginning
Just say it. Just say “What are we going to do when we start to get sick of each other?” Most things are less terrifying once you say them out loud and push them into the light. You should both acknowledge that getting annoyed with each other is a possibility think about how you want to deal with it. Besides, they might have some great ideas that you’ve never thought of!

Deal with issues when they start to arise. Don’t let them fester between you and your travel companion!

When your travel buddy’s drinking habits, snide comments or refusal to try new things starts to wear on you – for the love of Pete, say something! Allowing things to build up will only make them worse and you’re much more likely to blow up and say things you don’t mean. Talk about it now, before you get all wound up and yucky about it.

Suggested script: “Travel buddy, lately I’ve been having a tough time with your __________. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather address it now than sitting and sulking about it. Can we talk about this?

Make other friends than your travel buddy

If you’re staying in hostels or backpacker guest houses it will be nearly impossible not to make friends. It would literally require an act of committed grouchery to avoid befriending new people. Eating dinner, going on day trips and navigating border crossings is much less stressful (and more fun) with groups. Making other friends also takes the pressure of each of you to constantly entertain each other and keep up the conversation.

Learn how to be quiet around your travel companions

If you’re someone who enjoys her peace and quiet, it can be tough to travel with a Chatty Cathy and if you don’t know your travel partner super well, extended silences can also be awkward. Learn how to cultivate the comfortable silence.

If your partner isn’t good at silence, make sure you take some time for yourself each day to be (quietly) by yourself. If all else fails – put in your headphones! It’s up to you whether you actually turn on your Ipod or not.

Take day-trips without your travel buddy

If you’re traveling with a friend for months at a time, there will inevitably be activities that interest you and bore your buddy. Not everybody is into touring underground catacombs stacked full of skeletons! At least every few weeks, take a break from your buddy and go on a day trip by yourself. It’s easy to sign up for an eight-hour stint with a travel agency who will coordinate all your transportation and entrance fees. You’ll meet other travelers, see something that interests you and give both you and your travel partner a bit of much needed space.

Work with your strengths

Before you commit to seeing the world with someone, you should have a pretty good idea of their travel strengths. Maybe they’re great at haggling or they can read maps like a master or they’re Captain Charmy McFriendlypants. You should both have a good idea of where you excel and use your powers for good! (Not evil!) If your buddy’s great at haggling – she’s officially in charge of all price negotiations. If you’re a type-A Virgo, maybe you can do all the ticket/permit/transportation coordination.

Don’t depend too heavily on your travel buddy

Now, I know I just told you embrace your travel buddy’s strengths but it’s important not to lean too heavily on any one person you’re traveling with. I once traveled with a super-organized, Spanish-speaking boyfriend through South America and about a month into the trip I realized that my contributions to the trip had been a) looking cute in sundresses b) guarding the bags while he bought tickets. Poor form, me!

Nobody likes to feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, so make sure you’re pulling your weight and make sure your buddy is pulling theirs. When in doubt, delegate! Like this:

“Okay, I’m going to go organize our tickets to La Paz. Will you be in charge of checking out of the hotel and making sure we didn’t leave anything in the room?”

or

“I’ll see if I can find us a taxi and get them down to 200 rupees. Will you go get some takeaway from that street vendor we like? I want two aloo tikis.”

Because travel partner team work = awesome.

Do you travel with friends?  What are your tricks to staying happy together?

image by elitatt, creative commons liscense

7 Comments

mel

I have only had terrible travel partners except for my boyfriend. My mom and sister were too afraid to leave the airport during a 16 hour layover and didn't want me breaking off from the group to wander. People who are afraid of everything make the worst travel buddies.
And recently we took a weekend trip to Chicago with another couple, I suppose I'd never really hung out with her for more than a couple hours at a time, because at the end of day one I wanted to run away and fake my own kidnapping. lol.
She was really needy and clingy. I'd recommend a test drive with travel partners for at least 24 hours of contact and see how you do. I won't be traveling with these peeps again!

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Helen

I've never really thought about this, but its such good sound advice.
I always tend to go away for long periods by myself or with a group and even for an introvert I find it pretty easy to make friends.

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AlexCarolyn

YES. I have travelled with several of my best friends, a boyfriend, and my Dad. My dad was definitely the best (probably because he paid for everything though!)

My best friend and I recently drove across the country together, and while it could have been a recipe for disaster, we've travelled enough (and talked about our travel habits) to know what our trigger points are. I know that she needs more time in the morning to get ready and likes to eat a hot dinner every night. She knows that I like to get up early, go all day, and can go hours without eating. I'm okay-ish at navigating, she's fantastic at picking out the tunes. We both have figured out how to work with each others needs, as well as our strengths.

Also, movies. I know it can seem kind of silly to go see a movie when you're in a foreign city full of new things, but sometimes this can be an excellent way to decompress after non-stop travelling, without sitting in your hotel room and feeling lame. It can remind you of home, doesn't require conversation, and best of all–it involves sitting down!

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Anonymous

One of the best suggestions that a friend made to me just as we were beginning our 3 month trip together through West Africa – establishing a "kitty". Basically a separate purse that we each contribute an equal amount of money to. We started with $100, and we used this when ever we had those small costs like taxi / bus fares, entrance fees, beer / coffee / water throughout the day.

This meant that neither of us felt like we were always the one paying, and didn't have to have those awkward conversations like – "you owe me .90c for the coke i just bought you".

I have since used this for many other trips with friends and has been a real relationship saver!

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Vikki

I went on a Korean trip with my boyfriend & despite the fact he'd been travelling before with his BFF he said I was his best travelling partner ever! (result). I did find myself having to remind him that we needed to eat though as he didn't really seem to have that planned into his schedule (weird huh?)

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Mary

I can't tell you how much I LOVE this article! I backpacked through Europe one summer with a friend and it was so awful – we haven't spoken since. I normally consider myself pretty easy going but within a few days of traveling together – I was ready to lose my backpacking buddy. It was miserable. I am a big believer if you can travel well with your partner – your relationship is meant to be!

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amiramelody

I had a similar experience when I took my first trip that I had booked completely by myself at age 19. He refused to learn the language, expected me to translate everything for him, I had to be the one to deal with any hiccups, and he would always try to tag along with my newfound friends while moping. I had a serious talk with him multiple times, then finally ditched him. No one was going to ruin my trip!

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