How to Travel With Someone Who Sucks

How to Travel With Someone Who Sucks

While I prefer solo travel, I know that travelling with another person can be a beautiful thing. When you’re hiking to a waterfall, or getting lost in a new city, or gazing at the Taj Mahal, you might feel a pang of regret if you don’t have someone with you to share in the moment. A travel companion can not only make your journey more meaningful, but also strengthen the very relationship you two share. On the flip side, a shitty travel partner might ruin everything.

There are plenty of reasons you might find yourself travelling with someone who sucks. Maybe you got roped into a horrible bachelorette trip, or maybe you didn’t fully know your new partner until you saw the way they treat flight attendants. Whatever your situation, going on a trip with someone who gets on your nerves can really put a damper on the whole experience. But with some planning and compromise, you may be able to survive the trip and still have an enjoyable time.

Discuss expectations up front, and choose your battles

Before booking any travel, have an open conversation about each of your must-haves for the trip. Reach compromises on matters like daily budgets, morning wake-up times, nightly plans, and bathroom routines. The more you clarify ahead of time, the fewer surprises down the road. This is doubly important if you know the specific annoyance(s) your companion might pose as the trip wears on. Make it clear what you will tolerate—and what you won’t.

Once you’re in the thick of your vacation time, you’ll have to let some things go. Otherwise, little annoyances can easily blow up into big fights. Overlook minor irritations and save your energy for discussing legitimate issues. No one is perfect, and differences of opinion or travel style are bound to emerge.

Build in free time (and get your own room, if you can)

No matter how well you get along, being joined at the hip 24/7 can strain any relationship. Make sure to build solo time into the itinerary so each person can explore independently. Agree to meet up for predetermined activities only.

Unless you’re a couple, consider not sharing a hotel room, even if just for some nights. The ability to retreat to your own space is priceless. If separate rooms aren’t feasible, use headphones, sleep masks, and other privacy aids.

How to deal with the worst types of travel companions

What makes someone bad at travelling? All kinds of things, really. Here are some of the people you might wish you had left at home—and how to deal with them.

The picky eater

Travelling with a picky eater who wrinkles their nose at local cuisines can limit your dining options—and test your patience. You can try suggesting restaurants with familiar foods, but for the most part, telling someone to “pick familiar foods” will suck for the non-picky person.

Former Lifehacker editor-in-chief (and experienced picky-eater companion) Alice Bradley advises that “eating must be the picky eater’s responsibility.” Bradley says the trick to surviving with a picky eater is to “1) go in with a game plan—if you’re going somewhere exotic, the picky eater will have to have a strategy for getting through, and 2) get okay with eating out without the person. If they need to travel with protein bars and eat in their room (or meet you for a drink later), so be it.”

I like to offer to split entrees so they can sample local flavours without committing. Remind them that part of travel is trying new things, even with just a few bites. And they only eat bread for the duration of your trip, that’s their problem.

The complainer

Non-stop complaining about flights, hotels, crowds, and expenses quickly gets old. At first, you can try changing the subject or putting a positive spin when they complain. Remind them you chose this destination and activities together. From there, suggest breaks from group activities so they can relax if they need. Don’t hesitate to say you’re there to enjoy yourself and would appreciate more positive energy.

The chronically late person

Waiting on someone who’s habitually late can make you miss reservations and even flights. At best, you’ll have to start sightseeing without them. At worst, you might find yourself on a solo trip after all. You’ll have to be firm about times with this one—trying to “trick” them with earlier meet-up times might backfire, if they think the times they’re expected somewhere aren’t “real.” The most important part is not to let their tardiness make you miss out—if they’re late, go on without them. Suffering real consequences for their lateness might actually force them to change their bad habits.

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