And about half of that travel I do on my own. When I met up with three friends in Iceland I was genuinely concerned that I wouldn’t remember how to travel nicely with others and would get all “Y U GET UP SO LATE? MUST GO TO MUSEUM AT 9!!!!!”
Thankfully for all involved, I did not, in fact, turn into Travel Hulk.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I road tripped to Nashville with my BFF of twenty years. Of course, we know each other so well, we’re verging on family (and are frequently mistaken for a couple?) but every trip and relationship can use a bit of fine tuning.
How to Travel with Friends
Be open about the fact that you will both need independent time
Spending 24 hours a day with someone (anyone!) isn’t easy. Even the most charming, lovely person can wear on you after three weeks (or three days) and you will probably begin to wear on them.
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. You should both acknowledge that getting annoyed with each other is a possibility and that you should both 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!
I occasionally try to deal with things by ignoring them into submission. Surprisingly, this does not actually work. But it has resulted in one expired visa, one scooter accident and a few overdue fees. Be ye not so stupid as me!
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.
“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?”
Hang out with other people
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 each other
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 each other
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?”
“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 teamwork = awesome.
Do you travel with friends? Your partner? How do you keep things fun and non-fighty?