It’s been said that traveling together tests the strength of a relationship. It’s rather obvious as traveling removes us from our comfort zones and presents to us a myriad of challenges from navigating the alleys and canals of Venice to surviving a case of travelers’ diarrhea. Faced with these problems in a foreign place, you are forced to work with each other and deal with them together in order to find the best solutions. This already frustrating situation, combined with the quirks and antiques of your travel buddy(ies), can lead to a highly stressful situation, that, if not handled properly, can diminish any relationship.
I am not a relationship expert nor have I gone on an extended, year-long RTW trip. I have, however, traveled with many different people over the duration of quick weekend trips to an extended 3-week jaunts across Europe and Asia. Thus far, though we’ve had the occassional arguments and eye-rollings, my trips have been nothing but awesome and fun-filled. Also, let it be known that no friendship was harmed in the process. Right, friends?!?
That said, here are some tips I’ve used to my advantage:
Travel with someone similar to you
I’m not talking about personality types, but more in terms of financial and lifestyle habits. You will be miserable if your friend(s) want to eat at posh restaurants every night, while all you want to do is eat street food. Or if you want to stay at a 4-star hotel, while they’re looking for basic, no frills, dorm-style hostel. Likewise, it’s no fun when everyone wants to go out drinking every night while you’re not much of a drinker. Just make sure your expectations are clear BEFORE you leave for your trip.
Have a day to yourself
This is especially important during the longer trips. Face it, as much as you love your significant other or your buddies, spending day and night 24/7 with them can get a tad too much. There will come a point when you get sick of each other and every. little. thing. they do annoy the crap out of you. So, to curb this tendency, make sure you incorporate alone days into your itinerary. They give you a break from each other and provide the chance of exploring the city on your own terms:
Feel like stuffing yourself and blowing your hard-earned Euros on gelatos??
GO AHEAD! NOBODY IS WATCHING!
Oh, and it’s okay to explore the city on your own. Just be aware of your surroundings and don’t make yourself an easy target. The world is full of good people, you know.
Compromise, compromise, compromise
Sometimes you will get your way and other times, you just have to step back and let it go.
“What? You want to go and see ANOTHER temple? Fine! But we’re ordering frogs for dinner tonight!”
If you absolutely cannot stand going into another temple (and you don’t particularly want to eat frogs – they’re delicious, by the way), don’t be afraid to split up and meet-up for a meal at a later time. This way, everyone enjoys their day and nobody gets upset at the end of the night! Plus, you’ll have stories to tell!
Let me tell you, things WILL go wrong; It’s the law of the traveling universe. There will be busses/trains/planes that are missed, canceled, or delayed, there will be re-routed luggages, you will get lost, strangers will photobomb your pictures, and there will be days when you just want to kill someone out of frustration. My solution? Laugh. Just laugh. Things have a way of becoming so much better when you look at them again after you’ve had a good laugh.
Last, but most importantly:
Things are instantly placed into perspective when you reflect with gratitude. Whatever incident you have experienced is merely a very small detail in the grand scheme of things! Realize that it is truly a blessing to see the world as you are doing and know that it’s an opportunity not many people can have.
Are there any survival tips that I’ve missed? Please share your wisdom!