How To Travel with Others and Come Back Friends
Travelling with friends should be one of the best experiences of your life. You'll discover new places, have all sorts of strange adventures and get to know a whole new side of each other. That, however, is where the problems can start. The mate who's always a great laugh in the pub can suddenly morph into a power freak when you put them in a foreign country. Equally, your chilled-out co-worker can start to get on your nerves when you find yourself having to decide where you eat, sleep and party for the tenth night running. I've heard countless cautionary tales of people heading off on their travels as the best of buddies and coming back barely speaking. It's one thing to return from a trip minus your camera or travel towel; but quite another to find you've managed to lose your best friend!
Backpacking is such an intense experience that it can sometimes bring out the worst, as well as the best in people. But the good news is that with a bit of preparation, tolerance and open-mindedness you can ensure that you come back better friends than ever. Here's our top ten ways to avoid toxic travelling bust-ups:
Pick your travelling companion carefully!
How well do you really know the people you're going to go backpacking with? Are they are the easy-going sorts, or do you always have to be careful what you say to them? Remember that personality traits will be magnified a hundred-fold when you find yourself in some god-forsaken town at two in the morning, having missed the last train to Prague.
Don't try and travel in big groups
Two or three people is great. Four's good if you're thinking of sharing rooms rather than doing dorms. Five or more people and it'll feel like a school trip.
Talk about what you want out of the trip beforehand
Do you agree on where you want to go, and how long you want to spend in each place? What's most important for both of you? Sort it out before you go, and save yourselves a lot of strife.
Make sure you're working to a similar budget
You won't stay friends very long if one of you is eating out every night and the other is determined to get by on baked beans or ramen noodles.
Take a pack of cards
Trust me, on a 12 hour train journey there'll be times when you run out of banter and booze.
Speak to other people!
You didn't go halfway across the world just to talk to each other, did you? Chatting to people on buses, the old guy behind the bar, other folks in your hostel will not only help you pick up valuable travelling tips, but will take the pressure off your friendship.
Don't feel like you have to spend every second together
She wants to go to yet another museum, you want to hit the beach. So do just that. You can always agree to meet up later and swap stories over a drink or two.
There is nothing more infuriating than someone who refuses to choose a restaurant or hotel, then complains about the one that you opt for. Don't be that person.
Don't treat every argument like Armageddon
So you had a bit of a bust up. So what? With the open road ahead of you there's no point in sulking or holding grudges. Remember that whatever nightmare situation you're in, it'll just get woven into one of your better travellers tales.
Accept that not every second of every day is going to be really, really fun. You're not in Disneyland, you know.