Destination is obviously a determining factor in the success of a holiday, but I'm going to throw it out there and say who you go with is on par with where you go.
Travel companions have the power to make or break a trip, and it can be difficult to know who will perform best under pressure.
I've heard of couples splitting up while travelling, families who have sworn off extended trips away after less than relaxing holidays, and groups who headed overseas as close friends and finished as less close friends/backstabbing, all-hating, "I can't even look at her, I don't want to talk to her ever again" acquaintances.
Nathan and I are shuffling around Europe on Busabout, so we're back in close quarters with other travellers and it's interesting to see how different OE formations work. Along with other couples and singletons, there are quite a few groups of friends, and they seem to provide the most drama.
One group of Australian girls in particular caught my attention on a trip to Amsterdam. I couldn't help but overhear (not eavesdrop on) a conversation that suggested they were on the path to citing irreconcilable differences with another member of the party. We're talking massive bitching here.
I can't really judge this group, I don't know whether or not the girl was actually trying to get into this guy they were talking about (I was overhearing really well at that point), but I'm sure it's common for one person in a travel group not to gel quite so well.
I have no personal point of reference for long-term travel with friends, but from what I've seen it seems to be like flatting: people get irritated, and things get heated when you're with each other every day. Chances are you also discover traits about your friend that hadn't been quite so emphasised before. Has anyone been part of or seen friendships fail during travels?
As far as my travelling companion goes, I feel as though I've struck gold with Nathan. Despite a few minor dramas and Nathan's hobby taking nasty photos of me while I'm asleep, neither of us has jumped a plane back to New Zealand, local law enforcement has not had to break up any of our fights, and generally we're still laughing and enjoying each other's company.
On top of that, I've discovered that Nathan has hidden navigational talents. The notepad on his phone is full of "change to line 7 at Stalingrad", "Drive straight for 500m, take exit 63a" etc. I feel as though I should get him to sign him up for orienteering or something.
For me, often locationally challenged, map-reading is a top skill to bring to a travelling partnership.
Among the other things I'd look for at a travel buddy auction are:
- Impressive cooking skills
- Gift of the gab (say, when trying to talk your way out of a ticket on the Paris Metro)
- The ability to stay calm in stressful situations
- A large bank balance and a generous spirit (anyone who disagrees is lying)
What other qualities should people look for in a potential travelling companion?
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