If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably realize that I usually travel solo. That’s not an accident. I love being alone on the road for a multitude of reasons: I get to be totally selfish in my choices, I move at my own pace, I find I use my senses to better experience moments and I’m also more vulnerable (in a good way) to new interactions and friendships.
But the truth is, most of us travel with someone else — and I enjoy that, too. The trick, of course, is aligning your goals and desires with another (or multiple!) humans, a feat that isn’t always easy. Most of you have probably already realized that a great friend/partner/family member at home doesn’t necessarily equal a great travel partner away from it. Being in totally different settings from a normal existence — read: 24/7 interaction, bathroom-sharing, schedule-sharing — can test the closeness of and tolerance for any relationships.
So how do you have a stellar time with your bestie or your significant other without devolving into petty fights and frustration? Here are five of my favorite tips for having a swimming vaca —and still loving each other on the other side, as evidenced from my recent trip to New Orleans with my great gal pal Megan.
1. Understand where the other person is coming from. Megan and I came into this trip from very different perspectives. She was heading into a much-needed (and deserved) vacation; I’m a full-time traveler, who has been on the move for a full year. Understandably, we approached the jaunt in different ways. She’s probably craving getting out of routine while frankly, I’m still craving getting in it. She was ready to get work off her brain for a solid six days while I am in this new constant work-life balance I necessarily need to negotiate. (No more PTO, folks!) While not everyone is in that exact scenario, it’s pretty common for people to be entering trips from different head spaces. Maybe one person is go-go-go and the other one needs some time on the emails. Maybe one person wants to crash on the beach for six days and the other wants to see all. the. sights. Getting an idea of what kind of PLACE your travel partner is upon arrival is literally half the battle.
2. Be vocal about what you want/need. One of the reasons I’m enthusiastic about traveling with Megan is I know we have pretty similar tastes when it comes to what we want to do while traveling. For example, we’re both very motivated by food, we’re both very down with cheap eats and walking, and most importantly, I think we’re both fairly understanding of each other. Still, we talked some leading up to our trip about what we expected to get out of it. She was dying to get to a Baby Cakes (the Nola AAA baseball team) game and hit up some fortune tellers. I needed to come up with some sort of work video project, take a bunch of photos, procure and write postcards (for my monthly Patreon subscription perk). Don’t make it a surprise! Communicate what your must-dos are before you hit the ground, and you’re much more likely to avoid any conflict about it.
3. Be willing to compromise. Hey, you’re with another person; this is life. Despite that Megan and I are often on the same page, there were plenty of food decisions we didn’t agree on. She went to some of my top eating emporiums, and I went to some of hers. One day, we left the Vietnamese ‘hood I was enthused about explored early because she didn’t feel well. We ended up not cruising through the cemetery because I wasn’t overly thrilled about it. She stayed out later than she wanted with me one night ‘cause I was feeling it. I did the same for her a night or two later. This is called GIVE AND TAKE, ya know?
4. Be happy to split up if necessary. Chances are, you won’t always agree. The real way to avoid regret and resentment is being willing to hit a site or two solo. Talk about that possibility and gauge the other person’s willingness to do so ahead of time so it doesn’t seem harsh or personal in the moment. Megan and I spent most of our trip to Nola arm-in-arm, but one day, we split for several hours when she elected to take a nap and get her palm read while I explored City Park and bike to a brewery. It can be healthy! We were probably all the more excited for the evening together after we had that productive time apart.
5. Find a way to laugh about it the next day. When you’re with someone THAT much for THAT long, disagreements are bound to arise. Especially if you’re drinking and/or short on sleep. Or hungover. Or hangry. Or really, really hot. That’s ACTUALLY NORMAL. This is another human who has been inside your personal bubble for DAYS if not WEEKS. The key is finding a way to quickly forgive and chuckle about it in the aftermath. If you’re traveling with this person you probably already know that know matter what, there is love underneath.
Dare I say, it might make you closer.