10 Ways to Cope With Annoying Travel Partners

Annoying travel partners

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!

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  1. Link January 27, 2012 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I think all this adds up to the good reasons to travel alone. I much prefer to travel by myself that way I can walk around and around in circles in Sultanahmet and there is nobody to dissuade me or force me to be rational. Likewise if I decide at 7pm that I don’t like a town very much, I can walk up to the highway and hail a bus out of there and only have to hold myself responsible for a last minute decision. Traveling with a companion is going to bring more rational decisions to your travels when sometimes, spontaneity, gut instinct and a sense of adventure are really all you need or want.

    • Annabel Candy January 27, 2012 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Hi there,

      Lol, there are definite advantages to traveling solo:)

  2. Dayna January 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    So true. Some of these are applicable to couples as well! I don’t think traveling alone is instantly the answer for everyone… we are made for community! It definitely works best for some, no question. Some great tips!

    • Annabel Candy January 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Dayna, well that’s just about the worst – if your annoying travel partner is also your lover;) But travel is a brilliant way to test the relationship and see if you’ll be able to stand each other for life!

  3. barbara January 28, 2012 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Very amusing and yet very good advice. My husband and I have traveled with friends and found it is always best to allow separate time and separate sojourns within the trip. It’s always a disaster trying to get more than one person to completely agree with your wishes.
    Thanks for the chuckle!

  4. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living January 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I stayed with my best friend in London at a hotel, and she complained about my stomach making too much noise during the night. I guess it sounds like a washing machine when it’s digesting dinner. Thankfully my husband never complains about my stomach noises.

  5. Great Himalaya Thru-Hiker January 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Most of the time,I travel alone and I really enjoy it but sometime on trail you meet other traveller fellow and intend to travel together and s/he might be annoying(though i dont expect so).Thank for good information.

  6. Briana February 2, 2012 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Great tips with lots of humor. I would be very reluctant to travel with friends for more than 5 days at a time. One important thing I would need on a vacation spot is allotted alone time, where each traveler can do what they want for an hour or two before or after dinner. Some examples would be going for a jog or walk, reading a book, calling friends and family, or updating a blog. That way everyone will hopefully decompress, feel more centered and ready to regroup.

  7. Doug Edwards February 18, 2012 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Great comments thank you..I rely on harmony and group members getting on together. Any negativity from people wanting to visit a destination with my groups are deterred from joining us right up front..may sound tough. life’s too short. If you are 50 and still feel you have to moan & groan, go alone!

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