It’s no big secret that relationships are one of the first things to be tested when you travel. The stresses of being on the road can strain even the best relationships to breaking point. The good news is, you’re not alone! Below you will find some important pointers that should keep your relationship strong while you are traveling.
1. Communication Breakdowns
Good communication is essential in any relationship but things can often turn sour when you are stressed out on the road. Whether you are traveling with your friends or your partner, it is important that everyone’s voice is heard and issues are dealt with swiftly.
It is important to know that there WILL be arguments, not only that, but these tiffs will often be blown way out of proportion under the pressures of traveling. Here are some tips to make sure any issues are dealt with in an open, honest and pleasant manner:
Get it off your chest
One of the worst things you can do is to bottle up your frustrations or worse yet give them the ‘silent treatment’. The longer you leave an issue, the more time it has to fester inside and something small soon becomes a major fight.
Pick your battles
Traveling with someone is all about compromise. Ask yourself – is this issue really worth the fight? If you pick your battles wisely you will remove a ton of unnecessary stress. As the famous saying goes “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.
Reaffirm that the other person understands
Never assume! Be clear with your communication and agree on the resolution or way that you will move forward.
2. Can’t agree on what to do
At some point, you and your travel partner are going to want to see and do different things. What may be exciting to you may sound completely boring and unexciting for your friend/partner, and visa versa. Bottom line is, you’re going to have differences somewhere along the road and it is important to understand that it’s totally normal.
However, it is even more important to avoid argument over this disagreement as it would be unfair to you and your travel buddy to miss out on something they deem important to witness. To avoid missing out on something you don’t want to miss, or to respectively skip out on something you couldn’t care less about, remember these non-confrontational tips.
Make a list of sights, activities, and places you want to visit
This will allow you and your travel partner to compare and contrast what is on each person’s agenda. This way you can partake in similar activities accordingly and when your ideas vary, you can either split up, or share in doing what each other wants. You may even realize that something on your friend’s list sounds amazing and want to add it.
Be open to the unexpected
No matter how hard and strategic you plan, there will more often than not, come a time when your plans are flipped upside down. Be flexible, and try not to let it ruin your entire day. Also, your friend may stumble upon something that wasn’t planned. Be open to straying from the agenda as sometimes you’ll find an unexpected pleasure in doing so, as further on you will most likely find something pop up you too find interesting.
Be ok with heading out alone if necessary
Yes, you’ve been experiencing much of your trip together but it is totally healthy and fine to engage in something alone. If there is something you must see and your partner feels the opposite about it, then go it alone. Chances are, you will meet another fellow traveler who will share the same interest. You can reconvene after you have both separately enjoyed what you wanted to, to exchange stories and thoughts.
3. Too Much Time Together
You’re going to be spending A LOT of time with your travel buddy, probably more time than you think, and at some point you might feel like you need some space. You’ll be sharing rooms, seats on transportation, food, etc. and you may realize that every moment has been spent with each other. If you start to find yourself getting annoyed with your partner more easily than you used to, you probably just need a good dose of “me time”. Spending a large amount of time, especially weeks or months, can dramatically effect a relationship; if you’re feeling cramped by your friend, hash it out with each other and clear the air.
Simply explain that you need some space and let it be known there are no hard feelings. Bottling up your frustrations will only lead to an explosion later on, and if this can be avoided it can ultimately save your trip (and relationship) from a downhill spiral. You don’t want your experience to be ruined because your partner used up the rest of your homeland brand toothpaste, which in reality is just the breaking point of a culmination of annoyances and irritations built up.
Schedule a relaxing activity
Clear your mind and relax. Maybe you just need to have some time to think on your own terms and be able to move about as you wish. This could be something as simple as catching some rays on the beach, getting a massage, just enjoying some quiet reading/writing time or just plain old hanging out with yourself. Taking a step back to recharge your batteries can keep you level-headed and ready to power ahead.
When something repeatedly gets under your skin, do you both a favor and let it out on the table. Squash it before it becomes something that makes you scream inside. Being upfront and open will strengthen your relationship and let one another know when something is bothersome. What is unsettling to you may not even register to them as being remotely annoying. You’re going to be spending countless hours with each other – make them count and don’t waste time privately being upset, your friend won’t know what is bothering you if you don’t tell them.
4. The Silent Treatment
This is never going to get you anywhere. If you don’t want to speak with one another, then fine so be it, but make it be known by other than ignoring and avoiding one another. Travel involves enough guessing, confusion, and surprises on its own – you don’t want to add more of that between your fellow travelers and yourself.
Let it be known
If you’re mad or upset, just let the other person know. Write them a letter, put a note in their book, or even tell the hostel desk to tell them for you. If you don’t want to talk, fine, but somehow convey what the problem at hand is. It can’t be stressed enough how much communication is key on the road.
Give the other person some space
If you’re giving the silent treatment, clearly you already know you want some space. But, if it is you receiving it, after you have actively tried to ask what is wrong, allow them some time to cool off. Sometimes you will just need a little time apart, and that can do wonders for arguments.
Go on with your day
Carry on like you would if you weren’t getting the cold shoulder. Don’t let a dark shadow be cast over the beauty of the rest of what is to be seen and done. You may be talking to yourself, but hey, it sure beats moping around the entire afternoon.
5. Money Squabbles
Hopefully, you aren’t burdened with this issue but, if you find yourself here the number one thing to remember is, stay calm. Fighting over or about money can really open a bad can of worms and be blown out of proportion. You truly want to avoid this at all costs as best you can. However, if you find yourself in this situation remember these tips:
Don’t freak out
It will work out, it always does. You’re a traveler so you need to be prepared for the unexpected, and clearly this is not something one anticipates. Weigh your options and try to come to a common ground as to what is the best solution. When there is a will there is a way, and the will to travel on will prove to you money shouldn’t be the instance that ruins your experience.
How you view and spend money as an importance may differ from your partners, just keep that in mind. Be respectful of each other’s spending habits and try to lend a hand when needed, if that becomes necessary. At some point on your travels, you may come up short, and vice-versa. If able, cover the dinner or bus ticket, help alleviate small stressors the other person is currently facing because, after all, you would want them to do the same for you. Help each other out, money isn’t everything, but it can make all the better when a friend is in need.
Re-arrange your agenda
There’s always another site, activity, or place that can be visited on a whim. Don’t get bogged down on money issues, because you would just be letting precious time slip away. Plan for the unexpected and you’ll be ahead of the game, and if it happens, you’ll be ready and unfazed.
6. Dealing With Arguments
Arguments are pretty much inevitable, so how you deal with them will be a big part of how your trip flows. It’s your choice, you can have it be smooth sailing or run your course through choppy waters. You’re going to be exposed to some sides of your travel buddy you’ve never experienced, and believe me, you will discover some sides you didn’t know you had either. You must work as a team, consider each others need and wants, and level with one another.
If you feel it, say it
More often than not, you’re going to find yourself thinking “If I just keep my mouth shut, things will get better”. Wrong. Communication is key, there needs to be a two-way street between travelers. Even if it’s the slightest thing, like you’re sick of always buying the shampoo for the both of you, get it off your chest, you will instantly feel better about it.
Don’t expect your partner to just know
“You should just know not to do that!”. In reality, maybe they don’t know and when you’re in a new place, with new people, seeing things you’ve possibly never witnessed before, they very well may not know better. Personalities are going to clash, what’s acceptable to one may be inadmissible to another; recognize and respect each other’s boundaries and limits. They will 100% be tested in various situations, therefore, it’s up to you to be upfront with one another to understand who tolerates and is ok with what.
If you mess up, apologize. Own up to it immediately – that way you can all move past it and get back to what’s important, exploring and adventure. You have a lot of ground to cover, don’t waste any time leaving things unsaid. An apology can mean all the world to somebody and those two words can turn what could be a headache of a day into another exciting stroll in the park.