No matter what happens, here's how you can be the best travel companion you can be.
Whether you're going for a couple of weeks or even months together, some foundational things are critical to successful travel with someone else. Ashlea Halpern is an editor at Traveler magazine who recently spent a year globetrotting with her boyfriend. Here are some of her best tips for making it work so you can come back from your journey stronger than ever.
Get clear on what you're good at and what you're not good at — and play up each other's strengths. You might be fantastic at small details, or you might be more of a big-picture kind of person. Of course, either one is fine, but be honest with yourself about where you excel. Use your gifts to help make the trip better, and let your travel partner do the same. If you hate navigating and you're no good at it, then don't insist on being the one to find the hotel at 11 pm in a city of ten million people. Find another way to get that done. When you see yourself and your companion get more done when you balance each other out, differences don't have to be catastrophic.
Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone, but be clear about your boundaries. Yes, traveling is all about expanding and learning, and it's good to try all kinds of new things. But don't be afraid to set limits. If you do not want to go skydiving, don't do it — but if it's someone else's dream, offer to be there cheering her on. If you're going to try roasted beetles, go for it! But if your friend refuses, respect that and move on. There are plenty more adventures ahead to enjoy together.
Find small certainties within the chaos. So much of travel is uncertain — you're in a new place, surrounded by things you might not recognize, trying to navigate through language and cultural barriers. You know the agony and exhaustion of flight changes, train schedules, taxi rules, late nights, and early mornings if you're traveling long-term. Fatigue can make you vulnerable to illness, impatience, and arguments. Take an honest look at yourself and identify one or two things you need to do every day to keep you grounded. Is it a good breakfast? A great cup of coffee? A reasonable bedtime? An afternoon walk? Time with a good book? Then, to the best of your ability, try to honor those needs, even when everything is up in the air. Compromise with your travel partner — if he's an early riser and you're a sleeper-inner, find a way to meet in the middle or try to accommodate those natural tendencies. Maybe he gets up at six and reads the paper or works out while you sleep for an extra hour. These small concessions will pay huge dividends later on when the time comes where you have to make sacrifices due to schedules or other needs.
It's okay to spend time apart. Especially if you're an introvert, you might need alone time to stay sane. Or you might don'tyou'reant to spend an afternoon exploring on your own, talking to new people, doing different things. IIt'sokay! IIt'snormal to get sick of spending weeks at a time in close quarters with the same person. A little pre-planned, cordial time apart might be the exact thing that helps you be at your best together.
When things get tough, stand together. IIt'snormal to bicker about small things. Everyone does. But when there's something major, remember that you are a team. Hold off on blame, engage empathy, and get to work — together.
Don't forget to be silly. Laughter has saved many a relationship. It brings us back to what matters. It helps us take ourselves less seriously. It reminds us that it's more important to be connected than being right. Recognize when your travel partner is trying to lighten the mood, and don't be afraid to let go and be goofy together. That time when everything was going wrong, and you stopped and realized how ridiculous it all was, and you laughed so hard that you both had tears rolling down your cheeks — that will stay with you forever. Go with it.
If you're ready to embark on a fun, crazy adventure of traveling with a loved one, give us a call! We'd love to help you make it the best experience yet. You can reach us by clicking here.