How to Travel with a Companion without Driving Each Other Crazy
Picture this: You’re finally on the bucket list trip you’ve planned, researched, and saved to afford for years. Everything’s great—the food is delicious, transportation has gone off without a hitch, and you’ve met some interesting locals.
There’s just one thing. Your travel companion is driving you nuts.
Traveling with friends, significant others, or family members can be an incredible experience, but as with all extended time together, it is possible to have a little too much togetherness. Whether your companion is driving you up the wall by constantly stopping to put on or take off their jacket, never knowing where their passport is, or chatting your ear off when you’re trying to see the sights, chances are there’s something about your travel habits that’s bugging them, too.
Still, it’s possible to avoid unpleasant travel experiences by communicating with your travel partner—after all, aren’t most healthy relationships based on mutual respect and compromise? Follow these steps to avoid driving your travel companions nuts and to have the trip you’ve been dreaming of. (You might want to share it with your travel buddies, too.)
Establish expectations up front
As in all aspects of traveling, communication is key, and one of the easiest ways to avoid conflict with a travel companion is to make sure you’re on the same page to begin with.
Start with travel styles. If you like a meticulously planned itinerary, right down to which buses you’ll take to the hostel you’ve already reserved, while your friend prefers to fly by the seat of their pants, some destinations might work better than others.
Are you both looking to have a relaxing vacation, or a trip jam-packed with organized activities at each stop? These differences don’t necessarily have to be dealbreakers, but you’ll both need to make some compromises, which are easier to bear if you’re expecting them.
Be flexible with your routines
Part of the beauty of traveling is having new experiences, but that doesn’t always mean completely abandoning your routines. Making time to read, drink coffee, or do a morning yoga session can be a great way to center yourself for the busy day ahead. Some folks also need to answer the occasional work-related emails while traveling—it’s just part of life. But it’s important to incorporate some flexibility because it could (rightly) drive your travel companion mad if you’re never ready to leave for the day before 10 a.m.
If you’re used to eating breakfast first thing in the morning, for example, would it be possible to snack on something light in order to be ready earlier? Could you do some reading or meditation in the evening, instead of the morning? A little adaptability can go a long way in keeping the peace with other travelers.
Agree on a budget
One of the biggest stressors for many travelers is budgeting. This can be especially complicated by traveling somewhere with a different currency than the one in your home country, meaning you’ll be regularly doing the math to figure out how much you’re spending.
Much of this stress can be alleviated by communicating budget expectations with your companion in advance. That way, you’ll be on the same page about staying in hostels or camping (or not) or taking public transportation rather than renting a car or taking a cab, which is less expensive but also means less flexibility.
Once the budget is figured out, you’re much less likely to have conflicts about running low on funds while your partner’s scoping out the five-star restaurant down the block (or vice-versa).
Dress in comfortable layers
We’ve all been there: the weather simply won’t cooperate, and you’re either chattering your teeth or broiling in your warmer layers. It’s not always possible to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the day, but that doesn’t mean you have to drive your companion nuts by constantly stopping to put on or take off layers.
A lightweight, breathable top, like the Bugsaway Viento Long Sleeve, is a great option that protects you from both bugs and sun. Pair with a full-zip jacket, and you’ll spend much less time fiddling with layers. It’s also helpful to wear clothes that make it easy to access important gear and documents, like the or FlyQ Vest with security pockets that are the perfect size for a passport, allowing you to move through lines faster.
Pack for accessibility
There’s nothing more infuriating than having to dig through your bag for your passport at customs or frantically searching for the correct permit when you’re approached by a ranger. Well, that’s not entirely true: it’s even more frustrating when it’s your companion holding up the show.
A little organization before you head out the door can go a long way. Experienced travelers typically have systems for keeping essential items and papers in order. It can be as simple as "I always keep identification in this specific zipper pocket" or “I store all my permits in this email folder.” That way, when you’re put on the spot, it’s no problem to produce the required information. This is also helpful for outdoor excursions where you might suddenly need a snack, another layer, or something waterproof.
Plan in some solo time
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? You and your companion are more likely to get along for the duration of a trip if you’ve got some time to do your own thing. (This is especially true if your travel styles are different.)
It doesn’t have to mean a full day apart—especially if you’re headed somewhere you’d be uncomfortable traveling solo—although sometimes it can be a nice break to go see some things on your own. It can also mean booking separate activities for a half-day, reserving two separate rooms, or exploring a local market on your own and planning to meet up with them later.
It’s not always easy to spend 24/7 with another person, but at the end of the day, remember why you chose them in the first place and why you’re so excited to be where you are. That’s the Magic of Travel - it’s the chance to step outside your comfort zone and have new experiences with the people you love!
Originally written by RootsRated for ExOfficio.