Saturday, July 6, 2013

On travel companions...

While I may be embarking on a solo round-the-world adventure, I have enough experience and research to tell me that more likely than not, I won't exactly be alone all that often.  I will likely pick up short-term travel companions along the way, whether synching up with another solo traveler, or joining up with a group of like-minded travelers.  With that in mind, here are some important things to remember when traveling with other people:

1. Know your inner control freak.

Now, I can be a bit of a control freak.  All those little characteristics that make me a great project manager at work?  They can be perceived as stubborn and controlling in life.  By the same token, I can be as go-with-the-flow / laid-back as anyone under other circumstances.  The important thing is to understand, simply enough, what triggers that behavior.  When renting a car with my friend Sarah in New Zealand, we quickly discovered that she *needed* to be the driver - that was what she needed to control.  I was perfectly happy not driving, as long as she was okay with us pulling over from time to time to take in the scenery and take photos.  I navigated, she drove, we pulled off every once in a while, and we were both happy.  Similarly, we each had specific must-do items on our list (luckily, most overlapped), so we made sure to support each other in doing those specific activities or visiting those must-see cities.  Once you and your travel companions understand those needs, you can better set yourself up to be easy going about the rest of the trip.

Make sure you understand when to take control - and when to hand it over. 

2. Know what makes you grouchy and how to fix it.

I can get a *little* grouchy when I'm hungry, especially when I'm also tired. Or hungover. I'm not grouchy at *you*, I'm just grouchy.  Y'know how gremlins become little evil monsters when you feed them too late?  Well if you forget to feed me, consider me a gremlin.  I have plenty of friends who are also human-gremlins, so as long as we're aware that evil gremlin-behavior = "feed me now", it's pretty easy to get past those speed bumps.  If you're traveling with other people, making sure they know what turns you into an evil beast (and how to fix it) can make a huge difference in keeping the peace while on the road (and ensuring you don't get left behind).

Feed me.

3. Know your sleeping patterns.

Are you a night owl or a perky morning person?  Will you fall asleep standing up after midnight, or are you the walking dead until 10 a.m. and a giant cup of coffee?  While I'm usually a night owl, I can maintain completely different schedules depending on my travel companions.  On a vacation with Mom, we're up and going relatively early, but we also took coffee breaks and went to bed relatively early.  When traveling with Sarah, we're both night owls, but we learned quickly that we have very different preferences on being woken up.  My inner alarm clock tends to be permanently broken, so if she wakes up first, I'd prefer to be woken up (otherwise I'll accidentally sleep all day).  Since hers works just fine, she'd rather I leave her a note and go about my business if I wake up first, and let her get the sleep her body requires.  Once we figured that out, we were much better travel companions (and much less grouchy).

Afternoon espresso.

4. Know that it isn't always going to go your way.

Unmet expectations are the root of disappointment.  As long as you understand that things aren't always going to go your way, and that bumps in the road (or massive detours) are likely to occur, you'll be better prepared to go with the flow, and you'll stay happier along the way.  When traveling with others, communicating basic needs and minimizing assumptions and expectations can go a long way towards ensuring everyone has an enjoyable time.

Can't we all just get along?

No comments:

Post a Comment