Whoever said ‘travel broadens the mind’ forgot the crucial latter half of the sentence ‘and shortens the temper’.
At the ripe old age of 29, recalling a sorry swamp of annoying travel partners, miserable trips and wasted travel funds mean I generally travel alone these days. Just me and my guide book. However, for those of you who aren’t yet ready to make that leap, I have 1o tips to help you cope with a travel buddy who is really starting to get on your nerves.
1. Earplugs, earplugs, earplugs!
Earplugs are like travel adapters; the more desperate you are for them, the more elusive they become in your travel destination. Your travel companion will swear blind that they sleep silently, meanwhile every night you share a room with a diesel freight train.
Budget accommodation pillows are notoriously lacking even to rest your head on, let alone for drowning out noise when used to smother your ears, and before long you will fantasise about smothering your roommate instead. Don’t forget your earplugs.
2. Assess your energy compatibility
A good way to test your snooze synergy with a travel buddy is asking them what they think of the statement ‘plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead’. If they’re happy with swift six hour nocturnal stints whereas you feel robbed at eight hours, frictions will result.
The sleepless will want to wake those still nodding (often by conspicuous coughing or even poking –an imprisonable offence) whilst the late risers will resent having to be up, dressed and full of beans within ten minutes of regaining consciousness.
Likewise, if you prefer to meander your way through a destination whereas your mate has an itinerary for morning, noon and night, sparks will fly. One way round this is to make it clear from the start how you both envisage the trip to be and if necessary, agree to go your separate ways occasionally.
3. Widen your circle
If you reach the stage where every little aspect of your friend (such as breathing) is torturing you slowly, then consider a group trip or a hostel dorm. This way you have at least another two people who may annoy the hell out of you, not just your friend.
On the plus side, you could meet some interesting new people who you can tag along with for excursions and drinks. The beauty of travelling is the exposure to random eccentrics you would never usually mix with.
4. Be assertive
This is written with a heavy heart and dark memories after being dragged round the 28th temple in Bangkok. If you find yourself doing (or not doing) things on your trip, it’s very easy to blame your buddy, when really if you had just aired the fact that three temples would have sufficed, thanks very much, then you wouldn’t be writing this in the first place. Tsssk.
5. Take the lead
In a Marrakesh rickshaw, my travel compadre nearly forked out the ridiculous sum quoted by the greedy, grinning driver until I ordered him to get out (the friend, not the driver) and then dealt with him myself (the driver, not my friend). Sort out your bartering tactics beforehand!
6. Grin and bear it
This is the solution for the ‘it’s not like this back home’ travel partner. Really? Really? You know, I’d never have guessed. Solution: copious amounts of eye rolling, tongue biting and staring out of the window.
7. Never travel with your ex
Exes are dangerous territory; you will be much more familiar with them than most friends, which means there is a greater likelihood of you swearing at each other loudly in the Gambian sand, much to the amusement of locals who will then grin at you unashamedly for the rest of your stay.
If your ex really is driving you insane, then a timely stomach bug can ease tensions as you feebly wave him off onto his daytrip leaving you free to email everyone back home telling them how miserable you are.
8. Manage expectations from the start
Responding to an ad posted on an internet cafe wall, you could find yourself in a multistory car park agreeing to travel from Sydney to Cairns with three people you’ve never met before. This will dwindle to two strangers when one woman sensibly slinks off after seeing the knackered old banger meant to get you there.
When said banger splutters its last breath a mere forty miles out of the city ending in a night spent in a sweaty mechanic’s work-bed (all three of you) you could be forgiven for thinking it couldn’t get much worse. Oh but it will. The man who bought the car will now expect the three of you to foot the bill of several hundred dollars. Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to!
9. Anticipate their complaints
When travelling through developing countries, it becomes obvious when polite but curt rudeness is called for. That place is never a restaurant.
If your travel companion is likely to complain about the food or talk to staff in a patronising manner in a restaurant, you need to chat extensively about unscrupulous kitchen workers and bodily fluids beforehand and suggest they write a letter of complaint instead once they are home.
10. Create a food and drink fund
Agreeing to a trip with a woman I knew loved spending money as long as it wasn’t hers, was not the brightest of moves. Imagine my shock when she suggested early evening cocktails on the harbour, the prices of which looked like the decimal point was in the wrong place.
Imagine my secondary shock, then, when this friend ordered her cocktail, nipped strategically to the ladies leaving me to pay and then announced that she’d had enough after one. There is a very simple solution to this, ditch the leeching friend or pool some money between you which will pay for food and drinks.
If the above reads like a catalogue of travel partner disasters believe me, I have plenty more. But hopefully my litany of wanderlust misery will avert disaster for your own trip, leaving you free to do what you are ultimately there for, to explore and enjoy yourself! With or without a travel partner.
This is a featured blog post for My Destination written by Scarlett Redman.
Scarlett Redman is a postgraduate social researcher with a heavily stamped passport. She is a regular content writer for My Destination Phuket and a massive fan of reviewing Phuket restaurants when she can…it’s a hard life!