It’s been festering for weeks. Each and every day you wake from the freedom of sleep and hope that your travel buddy fell down a well during the night on the way to the bathroom. You look over to the bed and they are still there. “Shite”, you think. Thoughts cross your mind of just quietly packing and leaving, maybe orchestrating an event that will force them to go home! You hear a snort from them, they are in deep sleep, you wince and anger infects your brain, “ONE MORE TIME AND I’LL”, bad thoughts briskly enter and leave your brain. All is not well. You are not well and this arrangement isn’t working!
Reaching a state of absolute hatred towards the person you chose to travel with is extreme and unlikely. I travel with my partner Lara and we have been with each other every day for much of the last six years. Some of my most amazing experiences have been with her and when I do experience something without her I feel a deep sadness. However, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that we have had some big blow ups. You may be traveling with your best friend, some people you met en route, or an acquaintance that happened to be going your way. Whoever you are with it’s totally possible for annoyance to consume you if you don’t manage your time together well.
Of course this is something that we should all be trying to avoid!
Manage your relationship well and your travel buddy can remain or become a best friend. A romance may even blossom where one didn’t exist. At the very least, experiencing amazing things will deepen bonds that should be there for life. Manage it badly and you may never talk to them again.
So, from someone who has succeeded 6-years in close contact with a travel partner here are some tips.
Take yourself on dates
It’s very hard, especially in the early days, to accept that doing something by yourself may be a good thing. However, I have found it constructive to take entire days away from my partner. On these days, I may do something nice like eat at a restaurant, maybe go see a movie, go for a walk- just do something nice and enjoy my own company.
Make your own friends
A good thing about having a travel buddy is that you don’t have to worry about a lack of friends. However, having the same friend all of the time isn’t good for diversification and your own development. Sadly, while traveling it’s hard to get long-term friends but that does not mean you can’t have short term friends. One example could be that someone from the hostel invites you for an afternoon beer or a hike around the local area. Don’t feel you have to invite the travel partner, you can but it’s not essential. If your travel partner heads off and does the same to you then encourage it. Don’t allow yourself to feel left out.
Arguing is not necessarily good but holding things in is ten times worse. Make sure you let things out that are bothering you and, of course, try and start off with a discussion. If it leads into an argument, so be it! It’s better to lay the cards on the table and clear up any issues so that you can move on.
Go on holiday… away from them!
If you are traveling long-term with someone, this might be the trick to longevity. This past summer I went back to the UK, without Lara, for 6-weeks. I’ll be honest, 6-weeks away from her was a tad too long but we certainly saw the benefits of being apart for some time. She made great friends traveling in the Coromandel of New Zealand and I shared some amazing times with old friends of mine. We rejoined, refreshed and ready to keep traveling around New Zealand together. I am sad to have missed out on her experiences but I’m thinking that a shorter break (1-2 weeks) sometime each year could be good for us.
Remember why you chose them
There will be times when everything your buddy does annoys you. The way they store their clothes, noises they make, how they cook or eat their food! These insignificant annoyances should not be enough to derail the reasons you like this person. Try and sit down and think of all the awesome things of being with them. You may suddenly find all your annoyances fluttering away.
Find the humour in the annoyances
You have to face up to the fact that you and your travel partner will have quirks. Finding humour in those quirks is a great way to stop them becoming a problem and something that may even enhance your relationship. It could be a small obsession someone has with letting the alarm go off a certain number of beeps before turning it off, the way they put on a Spanish accent for any word that sounds slightly Spanish, a tune they hum over and over again! Just be friendly and make sure the joke is shared, not nasty.
Avoid purposely winding them up
When you are annoyed with someone pleasure can easily be gained by tugging at their strings and getting them mad too. This could be mocking things they do or just doing something you know they dislike. Just take a step back (grow up!) and try and refrain from this behaviour. It’ll only put more strains between you.
Know when it’s done!
It may well be the case that you made a bad decision. Continued travel together will ruin any chance of a future friendship so it may be time to get frank with each other and part ways indefinitely. Make sure you leave on the best terms possible and do this before the relationship is soiled forever! Of course, if you are in a romantic relationship this isn’t going to be easy and it may be time for you both to retire from travel for a while. Going back home might reveal that something as simple as travel-stress is the reason the relationship rifts.
Maybe solo travel is for you?
Some people like to travel solo and that’s absolutely fine. If this is you that does not mean you won’t meet and stay briefly with others on the way, share dorm rooms in hostels or whatever. Below are a few awesome blogs / articles from solo travellers.
- The Solo Female Travel Experience - Legal Nomads
- Why I Love Solo Travel - Butterflyist
- Solo Traveler Blog
At the end of the day, having a friend / partner with you is supposed to enhance your travel experience and most of the time it does. I think you get the trend in all of my suggestions- that personal space and time apart is healthy and necessary to make your time together best. Even if it’s done in small bursts through the day just try and make sure you are not in each other’s laps each and every hour of the day!
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