In Chapter 5 of Patrick McIvor’s series “Have Shears Will Travel,” he shares advice and tips to keep in mind when traveling with others. He touches on the importance of collaborating and communicating, establishing budgets and itineraries and having expectations clearly defined. Before you go on that next trip with someone else, take some time to make sure your trip will be one of the best times of your lives.
Traveling With Friends
Having a partner when you travel, someone to collaborate with can be one of the most fun ways to travel, increase safety, and enrich the experience. But like all other partnerships, good ones make things better than great, while bad ones can make things worse than bad. So when you travel, no matter if it is a long-time travel partner, life partner, girlfriend or boyfriend, family or friend, like any good business deal or creative collaboration, it’s important to make sure both parties understand what this partnership is about and plan for success. I remember when my wife and I got married, someone said to us, There are five things that break up all good marriages; religion, family, friends, sex and money, and If we got those right and discussed them before we said “I Do” things would be easier. When two people are traveling together, it can seem very much like a marriage depending on how they are traveling and have some discussions about the trip before it’s booked, or at least before they leave, can make the trip a lot more fun for everyone.
Money and Budgets
Money can be the root of a lot of problems and when traveling with someone, it can cause challenges too. If one person is looking for a five-star experience and the other is willing to stay at hostels to stretch their dollar, they might want to be visiting the same country, but their choices are almost on different planets. When traveling abroad, most trains even have first class and second class seating, not something most Americans are used to. As a seasoned, budget traveler, some cheap accommodations can come with great compromise like shared bathrooms, possibly even one bathroom per floor, and compromising on cleanliness, which I experienced when I was younger. I stayed at a one-star “hotel” in Madrid once that I should have gotten a tetanus shot after leaving, but it did allow me to see the city at an age earlier than most of my friends because I could afford it. So from transportation to accommodations and even daily budgets for food and experiences, good collaborations work better when money is discussed early.
So you are going someplace great and traveling with someone great, but when you get there, are you both going for the same reason? Generally, people go on vacation or a trip to do one of a few things. Some go to relax, some go to explore, some go to party, but if you and your travel companion are traveling for different reasons, this collaboration might mean you left as friends and came back not speaking. If one person is looking to relax and the other isn’t, that’s cool, as long as communication and agreements are made. Like is it cool to explore on my own or was I expecting to have a partner while exploring? Some destinations it is important for safety to make sure you do have a travel partner at all times. If I am there to explore and my travel partner is there to party, is that cool? Is it ok to bring people back to the room? Talking about goals and why you want to take the trip can make sure everyone gets out of it what they want and can be as social with the locals as they want to be too.
Time Together and Time Apart
This is something even my wife and I agree on before we travel together anywhere. Is it ok to not have to do everything together or do we want or need to do everything together? It’s tough when one person may feel like an extra wheel when they are following or just walking around because the other is enjoying an activity. For instance, on trips in the past while snorkeling, my wife, our girls and I will go together and my mom, who doesn’t snorkel, will happily come along, stay on the boat to watch us and we all enjoy it. But when it is scuba diving, my wife, who doesn’t scuba, will stay on land and do something else. So before you go, make sure it’s okay to go on your own when or if you want, that it’s okay for them to do the same or are you both planning to be together 24/7 for the trip.
You plan for success and planning for success is a good thing to do with trip itineraries. I have traveled in the past with just a general idea of the country I would be in on a specific day. But if there are things either you or your travel partner are looking to do, having an itinerary that all parties agree on can not only help ensure everyone is having a good time but make sure some of your dreams come true. From visiting museums to seeing Broadway shows and even day excursions, sometimes waiting until you get there might mean you have to wait until you come back to do or see it because it was fully booked or closed. And the other variable is there are only 24 hours in a day and only so many days for your trip together! So agreeing on an itinerary with a little planning and research before can make sure you see that play, visit the museum or historic site (we got the last three tickets for the Anne Frank Museum for the three days we were in the Netherlands booking them four months in advance) you want and know when you need to be there and when you can run off to your next adventure on the trip.
Traveling together can enrich the experience by tenfold when it’s good and make it a living heck when it’s not. Traveling together can seem like being married with two or more people sharing lots of personal space making it one of the most intimate collaborations with people that might not actually be intimate. Like all great collaborations, good communication is key to success and no matter if you will be joined at the hip the whole trip or just casual roommates sharing lodging expenses, there are always benefits to traveling with someone else.
- Establish a clear understanding of what everyone involved in the trip expects to get out of the experience.
- Be transparent with how much money you are all willing to spend and how to spend it wisely.
- Discuss what the goals of going on the trip are and what each person expects to get out of it.
- Set personal parameters and social boundaries.
- Create an itinerary prior to your departure.
Need to catch up? Check out Patrick’s previous chapters:
Chapter 1: Remember, You Are Going Someplace
Chapter 2: Packing Better
Chapter 3: Playing Games
Chapter 4: Reality Wins
Photo Courtesy: Patrick McIvor