There's no better way to get to know someone than to travel with them. This is probably the closest relationship you'll ever have with another person – physically, at least.
You and your travel buddy will sleep in the same hotels or hostels for your whole trip; you will eat in the same restaurants, you will drink in the same bars, you will take bus trips together, take plane flights together, visit attractions together and make every single little decision … together.
You see people at their best, and you see them at their worst. Travel has a way of stripping back any pretence, of revealing your friends and partners for who they really are.
Sometimes that's a good thing; sometimes though, it doesn't always work out well. If you've travelled with someone – anyone – for a decent period of time, then you'd know the annoying traits to look out for in a travel buddy. If your potential partner sounds like any of the following, maybe rethink that big trip.
"Twenty bucks? Yeah, I dunno." You get a sinking feeling the first time you hear a sentence like that, when you realise your travel partner has short arms and long pockets. Different travellers have different budgets, sure – but there are also people out there who just seem allergic to spending money. When you're travelling together, that's kind of a nightmare. The flipside, of course, is the rampant spender, which can also be annoying if you don't have as much money to shell out. Well-suited travel buddies will usually have similar budgets.
There's nothing wrong with a drink. I drink all the time. But there is a big difference between a drinker and a drunk. Drinkers use booze as a sweetener to an already great experience; for drunks, the booze is the experience. Travelling with someone who's constantly on the lookout for the next bar, who gets smashed and makes an arse of themselves and needs to be carried home every night, can get pretty old pretty quickly.
You watch the Faffer getting ready in the morning, and you gauge how long it'll be before they'll be set to go. OK, you think, they need to put their shoes on, they need to pack a few things in their bag – should be out the door in 10 minutes. And yet, half an hour later, you're still there sitting on the bed while the Faffer ambles about the room picking things up and putting them down again, remembering things they've forgotten, deciding to change their outfit, reconsidering the day's plans … Argh! Let's just go!
See also: 10 useless items you should never pack
Stress is contagious. If the person you're travelling with is stressing, then you'll start stressing. You'll stress over the thing they're stressing over, and you'll also stress over the fact that the other person is stressing again. It's a vicious circle. The ultimate travel buddy, in my opinion at least, will be able to roll with the punches, will not worry too much about missed trains or bad accommodation, or about any of the little problems that travel inevitably entails. Stressheads just make those things worse.
The Fussy Eater
I have no problem with people who want to be vegan, or vegetarian, or pescatarian, or carnivore or omnivore or even fruitarian – everyone is entitled to follow the diet that's best for them. When it becomes a problem is when you travel with someone whose diet is so restricted. Food, for me, is a huge part of the travel experience. It's something I love and something I want to share. When you're travelling with someone on a restrictive diet, a diet that needs to be specifically catered for in a country that may not be very good at catering for it, that can become a huge problem.
You have to be adventurous when you travel. You have to be prepared to experience life the way people in the country you're visiting experience it to really get the most out of this pursuit. That might mean eating in places that look dirty, or sleeping on floors, or walking long distances, or doing any one of a million things that might take you out of your comfort zone and be a little difficult. Anyone who doesn't like doing that is not going to be fun to travel with.
Travel involves decisions – a lot of decisions. Where should we go today? Where should we eat? Where should we drink? How should we get there? Where should we go next? How much should we pay for a hotel? Which hotel should it be? And on, and on, and on. If you're travelling with someone who has trouble making decisions, who constantly swings from one side to the other, who lives in fear of making the wrong call, it's going to be a looooong trip.
This is the worst. I can deal with almost any other type of traveller. I can put up with drunks, with faffers, with stressheads, with tightwads and with vegans galore. But whingers are a nightmare. Whingers seem determined to have a bad time when they travel, no matter where they go. They seem to be able to fixate on the one thing that might have gone wrong and make a big deal out of it. A good travel experience is all about having the right attitude, and whingers definitely do not have it.
Who do you think are the worst people to travel with? Have you found your ultimate travel buddy? What makes them so good?
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