“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
Just imagine, you have time off finally, for that break you have been dreaming of having. You have saved your hard earn dollars to visit an exotic location and satiate your wanderlust momentarily. You go with your partner/best friend of 4 years, you know them pretty well, like the back of your own hand. Or so you think.
But travel, oh travel, she has a unique and unwelcome talent of exposing and magnifying issues you never knew existed. Will they whinge when their feet are sore, complain when waiting in lines completely out of your control or blame you for every bump you encounter (I have done all these things, ashamedly)?
Having travelled with both friends and my boyfriend, I thought I would compile a guide on ‘how to travel with other people and not kill them’.
This is a list of some tips & knowledge acquired through both the good and bad experiences of travelling with another half.
Being aware of the reality of the journey you are about to embark on can preserve your friendship/relationship whilst allowing both of you to enjoy yourself on your holiday. After all, that is what the holiday should be for! Laughs and memories and a general good time. Don’t lose sight of that.
Share the pre-trip responsibilities
There is nothing worse than planning a holiday with someone who’s response to every single question you have is ‘I don’t know’ or ‘you decide’. Work out what each other’s strengths are and split the pre trip planning and organization evenly. This will make things more fun and engaging and less likely to make one party feel burnt out and dominant in the decision making whilst the other cruises along.
Make your trip intentions & finances clear before departing
Agree on accommodation style and transportation means before going. This will also assist with arranging the mutuality of budgeting. Don’t fret about splitting every penny and make your budgets and monetary situation known and clear. This is important to prevent awkward conflict when parties are in discordance over activities to undertake based on finances. in addition to this, work out your travel style and be aware and mindful of this. For me, I am an avid planner, going with the flow is something I do rarely and I enjoy/need to write out and map out my trip, the places I want to see and things I want to do. My partner however, is very relaxed and fine with planning once he is at the destination. Find a middle ground on things and make it work!
Know when to say sorry: don’t whine and manipulate .
There is nothing worse than prolonging a fight in a foreign land let alone on home turf. I have been there and it is so not worth it! It’s very easy to get on your high horse and entitled in your state of rage, but try to pull back from the situation, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if investing this energy into a fight will be worth it.
Saying sorry can save a lot of time and energy into unproductive negativity. Letting go can & being ready to forgive can actually channel it towards strengthening relations and trust. People make mistakes and do stupid things, so what?
Don’t victimize or perpetrate, life is too short for that kind of behaviour! Shake it off get back to the good stuff.
Take turns deciding trips or places to eat, things to do to balance the decision making. Do not sacrifice what you want to do as it will build up resentment towards that will manifest into an avoidable fight. For example, I am not as invested in doing ‘naturey’ things or hikes and would much rather be driven to the destination than do the walk! My partner is the opposite.
As individuals, it is important you make a list of what it is you want to do and see during your trip, and the standards of travel you would like to uphold. If you want to do separate things, that is fine! Communicate communicate communicate!
Spend some time alone
Being joined at the hip can be comforting in foreign situations, but it is important to spend time alone to not get in each other’s pockets too much. I remember my boyfriend used to take this personally sometimes when I wanted to do things separately or alone, thinking it was a sign of a bad relationship. But I believe, and have experienced, that time apart allows proper appreciation and value of one other to be sustained and re-iterated throughout the entirety of the trip and not lost in being smothered.
Prioritise rest and eating & be flexible
Hunger and exhaustion aka being ‘hangry’, quite simply equates to irritability. Prioritize this to avoid arguments and never make big decisions in this state! Furthermore, things don’t ever go to plan all the time. Acknowledge this and always have a plan B or C if plan A falls through! This will prevent frustration and arguments over impromptu decision making.
Meet other people
Even outside the setting of travel, it is easy to lob people in relationships together as one unit. Try and fight this tendency and branch out and meet other people around. You can make friends all over the world and hearing their stories is one of the best parts of travelling. Being in a relationship does not need to dampen your capacity to do this. Those naysayers who think you need to be single to have a good time are wrong!
Don’t compare yourself to others
This is more applicable for when you travel in a relationship, but it isn’t healthy to compare yourself to the couples around you. I have done this and it is depressing and misleading, different people have different dynamics! That couple who are constantly hand in hand, who cannot sit or walk or do anything near each other without constantly touching one another, and exchanging the word ‘baby’ more often than Britney Spears, are misleading and too much! You won’t be able to meet other people when behaving like this love shack unit anyway! Don’t feel bad if you are not constantly kissing each others butts & love your dynamic for what it is because that is you!
Make it known before you go, the things that will piss each other off. For me, I cannot stand when my partner plays clash of clans,totally absorbed in his phone. Or when my best friend chugs along at snails pace with pre-going out getting ready with my pace more akin to that of a hare! Make these things clear, and both parties make an effort to understand each other’s POV.
Schedule alone time and look after one another
Have some more indulgent moments together, pampering with the girls, or romantic with your partner, and reminisce on your travels and enjoy each others company!