Travel arrangements and accommodations have been made, suitcases neatly packed, and you’re just raring to go and plunge into a well-deserved vacation. But you’re unaware that there’s a dark cloud hanging above the trip, and it has the potential to ruin a getaway if not properly settled – your travel partner.
Who you go with can make or break a holiday. Your best friend may be the sweetest person on the planet; but things change given the demands of traveling. Try making tour plans with her when she’s jet-lagged. You want to go shopping, she wants to go sightseeing; or vice versa. She wants to rest and grab a bite; you could go for hours without either.
“I went away with a friend to Amsterdam and vowed never to travel with her again,” says Sheelam Chadha, a spokesperson for Soulescape.com, a company specializing in pairing people with a suitable travel companion. “She moaned all day, but was so lazy to plan anything herself because she was jet-lagged. You don’t want to spend [a fortune] on a holiday just to have it ruined by someone.”
Indeed, traveling together can threaten relationships. But there are things you can do to preserve your friendship even as you tackle the stresses of traveling:
Set Realistic Expectations
There’s a popular notion that vacations take us away from the daily hassles of life, as we plunge into the trip expecting everything to be dandy. This becomes a problem. We anticipate trips to be the peak experiences of our lives, and this may set us up for disappointment. Be aware that not everything will go as planned.
Travel Habits Matter
In a sense, a trip is like a mini-marriage. After all, you get to share a room with another person; you experience new things together; you agree and disagree. Hence, just like in marriage, choose your partner wisely.
Pick somebody with whom you won’t have to adjust as much. Consider critical issues like budgets, attitudes about money, sleeping habits and travel styles.
“It’s nice to travel with someone, but many times we do it for social and financial reasons,” says Soulescape’s Chadha.
Soulescape’s website lists people (clients) by interests and categories based on travel preferences. Some people love to travel deluxe; others prefer to slog it all the way.
Chat rooms and private messaging are encouraged so that travelers can get to know one another better. However, Chadha points out, “It is not a dating site so your profile does not set up to make you appear your best. It is set up to make you appear just as you are, and just how you travel, because when you travel, the real you will always come out.”
Businesses like Soulescape have begun to mushroom over the past couple of years, primarily because of the single-supplement in most travel deals. Individuals who travel independently find themselves spending more than they would if they were to travel with a partner.
This cheaper-by-the-dozen mentality is hurting solitary travelers, forcing them to look for a buddy to split the tab with. Clients range from young students to the elderly. Many older people who are divorced look to travel with new companions. And many younger people look to meet fellow travelers.
The worst is when companions harbor very different visions of bliss. Often we just assume that our desires are obvious and shared. We forget that there are very different ideas about what is wonderful, and you should articulate your vision as part of planning the trip. You should also be willing to divulge some secrets to your travel partner.
For instance, if you know for a fact that you snore, do your friend a favor and tell him/her about your problem. That way, he/she can prepare and keep a pair of earplugs handy. You might even find out that you share a common crisis. Imagine what orchestra will be playing form your room each night!
Now, if you’re not sure whether a friend makes funny noises at night, ask him/her, “Do you think you snore?” Most people would have an idea because chances are, they have already been charged with the bedtime crime in the past. But if your friend refuses to be forthcoming and retorts with “How should I know?” then just rephrase your question: “Have you ever been accused of snoring?”
Stick It Out
After you’ve selected your travel companion, trusting that your deliberations were made carefully and with eyes wide open, be prepared to stand by your choice. Liking or loving a person can’t guarantee a smooth interaction all throughout.
Learn to work with what you have. Not sweating the small stuff will help make the trip more fun for both of you.
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