Traveling with someone for the first time can be tricky. I've taken trips that have cemented friendships and trips that put cracks in other friendships' foundations. Travel can be taxing -- expectations plus expenses, stress plus scheduling, intimacy plus unfamiliarity. The shared experience can take your relationship to a higher level or be a series of irritations that put a blister on the friendship as sure as those new walking shoes are causing a bubble to rise on your heel.
I've come up with some questions to consider with your travel partner(s). I don't suggest it's impossible to travel together if your answers don't match, only that you might want to talk this stuff through before hitting the road.
Planning a vacation is:
a) Half the fun.
b) A worthwhile chore.
c) A royal pain in the patoot.
Roughing it is:
a) A sleeping bag with no tent.
b) A hotel with no cable.
c) Turn-down service with no mint.
a) The only way to live.
b) Sometimes fun.
c) Too terrifying to contemplate.
Meals should be:
a) Quick, safe refueling.
b) Cultural adventures.
c) Epic gastronomic extravagances.
A perfect day of travel is:
a) Up early, sightsee 'til you drop.
b) One or two sights then lots of goofing around.
c) Sleep 'til noon then lots of goofing around.
When it comes to people:
a) The more the merrier.
b) Sometimes you meet interesting people on the road.
c) I travel to get away from people.
b) Part of the fun.
c) My raison d'etre.
Museums and churches:
a) Never too many!
b) Yes, actually there is such thing as too many.
c) Have fun, I'll meet you later.
When it comes to paying:
a) 50-50 all the time.
b) You pay sometimes, I pay sometimes, it will all even out in the end.
c) It's on me!
Togetherness is great...:
a) All the time, that's why we're traveling together.
b) But I don't mind if you want to go your own way sometimes.
c) But I need to go my own way sometimes.
When someone asks, "What should we do?" I usually respond:
a) "Whatever you think is fine with me."
b) With a suggestion.
c) By taking charge.
A good companion travels with a spirit of compromise and any discrepancies uncovered by these questions can be ironed out early to keep the trip friendly.
But the last question to ask yourself and each other: What one sight or activity on this trip is not open to compromise? What would you forever regret missing if you didn't see or do it? Respect that bottom line for each other and no matter how many little squabbles you have about timetables or restaurants, everyone is likely get home feeling the trip was well taken.
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