change in latitude, change in attitude: a travel partner survival guideby RSJ on Feb 2, 2012 • 4:23 pm 2 Comments
Do you have nightmares of your best friend becoming your mortal enemy after a trip to Copenhagen gone-awry? Here is a complete survival guide to help ensure that you and your travel buddies still love one another at the end of trip.
It’s more common than you think: friends turned frenemies after fifteen days in the same tent in Bavaria. Just because you get along when you live two blocks apart does not mean that you’ll get along in a hotel room, ship cabin, hostel bunk-bed, or wigwam. Traveling with someone presents a host of new problems–from varying interests in sightseeing to incongruent sleep/hygiene practices–and you need to be prepared. They say prevention is the best medicine, so here are a few ways to preclude a call to UN peacekeeping forces:
1. Lack of sleep = lack of filter. Pack an armory of sleep gadgets to prevent an insomnia-induced meltdown.
When you lose sleep, particularly at the expense of a travel buddy with bad sleeping habits/snoring, you become bitter in no time. Sometimes noisy hostels, door slams, and party-fiend friends are not the easiest lullabies on your ears, so prepare yourself with the following list of essentials.
- Eye shades. They’re not as loser or diva-licious as you think they are, and you’ll be surprised with how well they work. A flickering television, St. Petersburg’s white nights, or a brutal sunrise will not disturb your beauty sleep. Try a pair of these ultra-comfy shades from Brookstone, and chances are you’ll never go to bed without them.
- Earplugs or sleep-friendly headphones. Eight hours of snoring…kill us now. Forget a peaceful friendship when your bunkmate is louder than the New York Philharmonic. Invest in a pair of safe, comfortable ear plugs just in case, or try one of our favorite gadgets–Sleephones! This comfy headband has built-in speakers to drown out the unbearable with your calmest tunes.
- Melatonin. We don’t advocate heavy sleep drugs, but a melatonin supplement is a natural way to induce a good night’s sleep. Sometimes all of that art at the Musée D’Orsay is enough to keep you awake with cultural fervor. Give Monet a rest and fall asleep peacefully with one of these handy pills.
2. Make a flexible itinerary before you go, and buy tickets in advance [when possible].
You have three days in Shanghai. Don’t wing it. Have a sense of what you and your partners want to see before you go. Sometimes museum trips or excursions require advanced planning or ticketing, so get your act together. If you have a framework in advance, no one will feel left out (even if they want to see a sandpaper factory). Half of travel arguments arise from poor planning and transportation crises. “We had enough time to see YOUR museum, but the show I wanted to see sold out three weeks ago!” Prep what you can to ensure that Big Ben isn’t the host of the final episode of Big Brother.
3. Pick an early morning or evening, and do something by yourself.
Alone time is valuable, and often forgotten when you’re traveling with an entourage. It’s perfectly reasonable for you to pick up and explore the city on your own for an hour or two. Maybe there are sights only you want to see, or maybe a coffee + fresh air will be enough to dispel the stirrings of an argument. Important point: don’t turn this into an opportunity to exclude or be nasty. [Obviously you won't slam the door and tell your roommate to stop being 'up your ass' before exiting Lohan-style]. Simply say that you want to take a walk/make a phone call/write postcards. They’ll get the picture, and thank you for it later.
4. Be inclusive at all costs.
If you are traveling in a group, it’s common to choose one person to be the scapegoat or public enemy of the trip. Human tendency or Machiavellian tactic? Who knows. Do everything you can to be inclusive of your entire party, even if it sounds like an episode of Barney. Keeping everyone happy–not just yourself–is the secret to a good trip. When someone else is down and out, they’ll drag the whole experience with them. Be an adult even when your other friends are behaving like children…you’ll be surprised at what karma can do.
5. Watch the drinking/partying.
When your time is limited in a certain destination (and the sole attraction isn’t partying…ignore this point if you’re in Ibiza!), a severe hangover can really dampen the trip. You’ve seen the ridiculous arguments that have started when so-and-so had too much to drink, so avoid getting to that place altogether. We’re not saying avoid the nightlife, but set a reasonable boundary on the drinking & dancing to ensure that your whole next day is not ruined. This advice falls on deaf ears until your first time in the Louvre is ruined by tequila mayhem of the previous night. Take it from us, and say bonne nuit before the sun busts your party.
Have you had any travel partner nightmares? Successful peacekeeping tactics? We want to hear them in the comments below!