As it goes, many of life’s experiences are best when shared – birthdays, weddings, graduation, devouring an over-sized jar of Nutella…and the same is also true when it comes to travel! Being able to relive memories of your adventures abroad once you’re back home and bounce tales off each other is a pretty special thing – sometimes being able to put places or experiences into words can be a little difficult (sometimes you really did have to be there), so having a travel companion that you can laugh or cry with about it all…nothing beats it!
Having travelled solo, needing to make new friends and get used to my own company, I know first hand that travelling with your significant other, a good friend or your family is a totally different experience. Over the years I’ve travelled to a number of destinations all with different people – USA with my parents, Japan with a friend from work, Indonesia with my cousin and her friend, and the UK and Europe with my partner and extended family. While family can be difficult – getting on each others nerves or disagreeing is usually a given – at the end of the day you’re family and most things can be forgiven and forgotten. But when it comes to friends and lovers, it’s a completely different ball game.
As with anything else, there are pros and cons to travelling with somebody you’re close to which only makes choosing your travel companion all the more important! Even the smallest upset on a trip can cause a rift between mates – a combination of sleep deprivation, short tempers, stress (you’re not immune on vacation) or annoyance over different destination desires. I promise, I’m not trying to talk you out of it, or put added pressure on your dream escape! It’s simply a wise decision to go into this experience armed with a great attitude, some flexibility and the following tips…
One isn’t always the loneliest number
This one is SUPER important. Set aside some alone time! As you travel, you’ll begin to feel like you’re living in each others pockets (even more so if you’re sharing luggage). It doesn’t matter how much you love each other or how well you know each other, there’s a good chance that at times things are going to get a little tense. If your holiday has thrown out your sleep patterns, your diet or you’re simply feeling a tad homesick, your emotions are going to be spread a little thin, and being the happy, carefree traveller you know you can be is difficult when you’re trying to turn up the smile dial for your pal! Even taking as little as 20 minutes out of your time together to unwind on your own will make a world of difference. Options are:
- take a nap – a simple step but one that’s tried and tested! They do say sleep is the best medicine;
- walk to a nearby park and digest a few juicy chapters of that book you bought at the airport but failed to open on the plane there – Getting lost in pages of fiction pulls you out of your head and into a private little world of fantasy (scrolling through Facebook will only do the opposite, so don’t rely on social media for this fix);
- does the place you’re staying have a tub or spa? Take a nice, long soak for some proper R&R;
- go solo at the downstairs bar for a cool beverage – if you manage to find a quiet corner and your favourite drop, take 5 and relax;
- duck off to the nearest coffee shop for a hot cuppa and sweet treat – BONUS TIP: bringing back a mug-to-go or fresh pastry for your friend is sure to send smiles all round.
Beyond the personal jokes, conversations over pizza, pillow talk and ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ at the sites, actually being upfront about what you do or don’t want to do, how you’re feeling and what you’d like to get out of the trip are key. Although a little uncomfortable to do, they’ll help avoid possible upsets and will have everyone on the same page. This will also help you to plan the kind of trip you both want! After all, travel can be shared, but at the end of the day it’s a pretty personal experience and should be treated as such. Perhaps you’re the ‘go-see-do’ type of traveller, but someone else might be the ‘lay-back-and-relax’ type.
Before heading to Bali with my cousin (who lives in another country) and her friend (whom I’d never met), we chat over Facebook messenger and organised Skype dates to nut out the details and pass around ideas. It meant we were able to put together a rough itinerary for the entire trip (leaving some room for spontaneity) so we all got something out of it. If you have trouble articulating your thoughts/feelings out loud, write it down – make it fun and keep things light-hearted! Just don’t be offended if your travelling pal isn’t keen on the same things you are. Work on creating an itinerary that you can do together, even if you then need to add a few things you can do alone.
Crunch those numbers
Money is usually seen as a rather taboo subject to discuss with other people, but when it comes to travel it’s kinda necessary. If one person dreams of four star resorts and never flies coach, but the other is working off $100 a day for shelter and food, the vacation isn’t likely to even get off the ground. Finding a companion who fits a similar budget as yours is key, even down to the little things like how much they’re willing to pay for transport at the destination (many friendships have been lost over a simple bus fare). So before you get caught up and book those flights, be sure to cover each others spending expectations and organise a budget accordingly.
Be Willing to Compromise
Know that bringing another person (or persons) into the equation means you won’t have control over every aspect of the trip. Unless you’ve got a friend who will happily fly caution to the wind and leave it solely in your hands, you’ll likely have to compromise and negotiate a few details. Whether it’s your accommodation, the cities you stop in or trains over flights, being open to adjusting your plans and hearing other options is vital. And if anyone begins to feel as though they’re compromising too much, divide and conquer! You don’t have to spend every minute together – and splitting up for a day here and there will avoid any feelings of resentment or frustration building, and means you’ll have plenty of tales to swap when you meet up again!
It’s all about Balance
Now that you’ve got the plans sorted, it’s on the both of you to ensure you’re conscious of one another. Don’t hog the bathroom, be tidy, stay well fed and nourished (hangry IS a real feeling). Being considerate of each others needs will help keep the peace and have you travelling in harmony!
Do you have any of your own tips for travelling with others? I’d love you to share them in the comments below!