I have always taken pride in the fact that I can get along with most people. On most days. So it’s really strange when I find that travelling with people is not that easy. Your travel partner could be your hubby, your relatives, best friends, close friends, colleagues, people with common tastes – and you could have varying equations with each of them. When you travel with them, you see a side of the person you haven’t seen before, and you see a side of yourself, you haven’t known existed within yourself. And it’s not easy.
So what makes for a good travel partner? Here’s my list:
1. Be game! – The most interesting people are usually the ones who are ready to try things at least once. This applies to travelling as well. The best travel anecdotes are created when people try out something new. Having said that, it’s also the most difficult thing to do. I mean, ask me to jump out of a plane or a cliff, and I will most certainly refuse. So is that “being game”? Perhaps I would rephrase that to “keeping an open mind”. I think it’s nice when people keep an open mind while travelling, when they do not let the baggage of preconceived notions hamper their journey. For example, I have always pegged myself as a “nature enthusiast” and mostly avoided cites, or historical venues. When I did finally open my mind, I found that I loved visiting historical sites. And it’s great to be surprised. What would travel be without surprises?So the ideal partner would be enthusiastic and curious. He/she would love the familiar, but would be constantly seeking new experiences.
2. Let things be! – There are times when you know that you have to take action, and you go ahead and do it. But there are times when things are not in your control, and the best thing you could do is sit and grit your teeth through it, or savor the experience as the case might be. There’s no point being totally hassled about the weather or a change in the train schedule or a bad hotel. So get over it, and look at the positive side of things, instead of moaning and groaning through the journey. Rain when you were about to go out? Okay, so you now get to see a different season, and there’s always hot coffee to make it tolerable. Your train got delayed? So take it as well deserved break after all those walks, or do some people watching. It’s fun! The hotel not as nice you want it to be? Change it. But if you can’t, spend as much time outdoors and only come in to sleep.
3. Push yourself – Yeah, that’s contradictory to the previous point. But it’s a thin line, and you should know when to do what. Travel brings out the best and worst in people. Try to get the best. It could be the way you react to an emergency, it could be the way you handle stress, it could the way you make friends, it could the way you plan things. Push yourself so that you even surprise yourself.
4. Laugh – I know! It seems like such an obvious point, but it’s a hugely important one. When you travel with people, there will definitely be skirmishes. Nobody is going to like exactly the same things as you do, so be prepared for some amount of arguments. Laughter is definitely the cure in such situations, as clichéd as it sounds. Be silly, tease each other, laugh at yourself, and you will find that situation gets resolved quickly. Also, laughter is especially critical when you go on long trips. You could be travelling with your hubby, or with your best friend, but 2 weeks when you are constantly together, and even love would not be enough to soothe your frayed nerves. But laughter could help. Try being goofy, try giggling, try being whacky. And you know what? It’s the one time you could let go without worrying about the kids watching or your boss knowing. You will be surprised how good it feels!
5. Know the difference between a holiday and travel – This is the most important one. Holidays are good, and so is travelling, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do either. But it’s important to know what you want. And set your expectations with your travel partner. Don’t’ say “I am dying to travel in South East Asia”, if all you want to do is have a spa vacation is Malaysia. Okay, so I get it that you have been working hard, and all you want to do is relax in a fancy resort and get massages and drink wine in the evening. Perfectly fine. But then you need to set my expectations, so that I know what I am getting into. Imagine your horror if I took you to a place and told you to trek for 10 miles, when you were expecting to have a beer on the beach. A holiday is about taking a break, something to get away from routine of life. Travel is more than that. It’s about new places, new journeys, new people, new experiences. It’s about being curious, about discovering the world, and discovering yourself, as vague as that sounds.
Now would be a good point to say that I have loved travelling with a different sets of people. And I have loved each experience, and learnt from each experience, in spite of whatever arguments we have had. Each trip – trekking, luxury, beach holiday, back packing, adventure – has been awesome because of experiences, but it’s always been unique because of people who have shared those experiences. So go ahead – ask yourself, what’s your list? What do you need in your travel partner?