How your travel companion can make or break your trip…

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The globe is accessible to more people now than ever before, so it is no wonder we’re always looking for that special getaway to maximise our grand 24 days a year holiday slots. So you’ve carefully co-ordinationed your destination, intrinsically pre-planned the sites and digitally mapped out a schedule. Great stuff Tiger, but what about your companion? What may seem a diamond at first may well turn out to be diamonque…

Nothing can prepare you for a holiday nightmare between you and your travel companion (a.k.a the ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend/ex-best-friend). Love and friendship are not necessarily good reasons to jet away for the sake of touching base on the land untouched. Paul Newnes, from Newcastle tells me, “When I went to Australia in 1997, in Brisbane it was very humid and hot. It made my travel companion very uncomfortable and for some strange reason arguments started to break out between us!” We are all immune to weather-sensitivity and don’t always know how to cope with this new ‘shock’ when thrown in adverse conditions. According to Manfred Kaiser, it seems our bodies have learned to cope with artificial weather conditions through use of heating and air conditioning but when we can’t stand that heat, we try to get out of the kitchen thus causing irritability, aggressiveness, listlessness, fatigue, moodiness and lack of concentration.

So what kind of questions and tips then can we look for in a travel companion? You may have crawled with your hands and knees over broken glass take them away, but how will they cope when they discover there is no TV? Perhaps, you wonder how they might react to 40°c heat when their skin is more sensitive than the atom bomb itself and another question you may ponder on: how do you tell your partner that jet-lag does not last for six days for any normal person, on a short-haul flight from London to Greece and that there really is no excuse. Some of our oldest friends and partners have been eradicated because of the stress and annoyance caused during a holiday. Single travelers pay almost double for the ‘privilege’ of going it alone (Veni, Vidi, Vici Gordon Brown) so grouping up is not only a social, but also financial benefit whilst away. And the truth be it all, some people just don’t want to ‘look like a loner’. Well how then do we find compatible companions?

Jeff Ford, of the University of Central Florida said “I do not want someone who only wants to party or only wants to go to museums. A healthy mix would be best. Moderation is the key to everything”. So, when picking a companion, a good way to make an enjoyable holiday a memorable holiday is with someone who is up for anything, not fussy on one style or substance, easy going on all that the local delicatessen has to offer. Test them before hand down, after all, you didn’t fly 3000 miles just to watch the F.A cup and eat beef burgers (not pronounced Bourgogne).

Independence and wisdom
Greg Crowngold, of Cape Town S.A said “Travel is about learning while having fun, and most particularly learning about yourself. So try not to cling to people from an identical culture or upbringing to you”. How’s that you say, when we are living in a monotonous culture of similar identity and character crisis in urban city areas. Well we aren’t all that similar, some of us are giddy, some of us are moody, some prefer meditating and some prefer to run. But essentially, a good companion is someone you listen to and someone who listens to you. It must be a two way relationship, don’t travel with someone who is childish, ignorant, clingy, demanding and attention-seeking. Don’t get stuck in a rut like Cassandra, whose companion was “incapable of acting independently to order food (always said ‘two’ after I ordered and then griped because she didn’t like what I ordered)”.

‘Let’s just agree to disagree’ says man to woman. Woman says ‘Whatever’. Man slams door shut. Night ends in tatters. Holiday ruined. (Mosquitoes attack). So, what kind of person is it you are traveling with? Don’t assume that the sun, snow or sangria will change that person’s personality once you step out of the plane, because, by God if it does anything, it will cataclysmically enhance it by 3000. Weather-sensitivity comes to play here, and if you know the person you travel with fusses with everything back home, then they’ll do the same here, if not worse. Allow yourself to some disagreements, say 3-5, this is normal, but try and test them out at home before ou’re stuck on a 12 hour flight (return and in economy) reducing yourself to the fierce inaugurations of Prince Valium.

Ok, every holiday can’t always be with the perfect person. You may be forced to go away with a family member, or someone much older than you or even a friend that you wouldn’t normally do so with. Enter the art of compromise. Sabrina, from Las Vegas remarked on a recent trip with two other ladies to New York that “we agreed to let each person plan one thing they wanted to do and the others went along. That worked out well”. Try and do one thing you each like, take it in turns thus respecting each others wants and needs more. You’ll come home feeling better for it and maybe even being closer afterwards. Don’t be over-controlled but don’t act like you’re Moses leading the Israelites through the desert.

Fiscal Viability
You don’t have to be rich to enjoy a good holiday, but a tight-wad can certainly ruin it. You may prefer the slicker side of teak and brass whilst your companion may enjoy 1* delicacies all the way. Sam Canders from Ohio said “I traveled once to Italy for 14 days with someone who was so cheap he insisted on sharing a room. I thought, ‘oh it couldn’t be that bad.’ It was a nightmare. He snored EVERY night, ALL NIGHT. It was so loud and disgusting the walls shook. I didn’t sleep for 14 days”. So before you decide to head off on your trip, don’t rely on last minute planning. Make sure you both have a similar sense of what you’re looking to spend (or not), sort your money out beforehand, share the costs evenly and please girls (for the love of God) do not assume that just because he’s an older man, he’s chivalrous with his wallet. The modern tight-wad has spread faster than the Cha-Cha.

Equal Input
Its all great teaching someone the pearl wisdoms of the local culture, but even Martin Luther King got bored of hearing his own voice. John from Oaktown, Indiana said “Travel companions must participate in some small way in the planning process. The person should have at least a few ‘must do’s’ that they are bringing to the table”. Make sure both people read a bit, and seem some what knowledgeable about where they are going, even if its just knowing which local currency you use, otherwise they’ll moan more than your mother-in-law if things go wrong, and they’ll probably never forgive YOU for THAT vacation.

And finally…
Be clear and concise about what you want to do such as what time you like to sleep, what the purpose of your trip is and so forth. If someone claims to speak another language, test them. The amount of people that can supposedly ‘speak’ another language (Saying ‘Konichiwa!’ does not mean you speak Japanese) freeze in actual situations where human communication is needed is shocking. If you’ve meet the (pool) man of your dreams, then tell your friends you’re planning to ditch them well in advance, rather than make squeamish last minute excuses. After all, you didn’t even ask the pool guy if he had a brother, like, hello?