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18 Ways to Keep the Peace with Your Travel Companion

couple argument fight arguing disagree man womanA few years back, I unexpectedly met up with my neighbors Jim and Kim (their real names) overseas. The man of the house and I have some similar interests, and found ourselves attending the same multi-day event. We chatted briefly before heading off to dinner. I suggested we meet the following day at the same spot.

"We won't be here tomorrow," Jim said, and turned to Kim. "Tell him about our deal."

"Jim gets Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; I get Wednesday and Friday," Kim said, smiling. Jim smiled too, and shrugged. "Hey, you gotta work together."

This negotiation had clearly taken place at home. In fact, knowing these two busy professional folks, I'd bet this deal was cut before they checked flight prices. And while it sounds a little too scripted for my taste, they had successfully avoided a showdown on the road.

No Escape
Different interests, a single itinerary. On the road, where you won't have your own cars, jobs in different offices, other friends to hang out with or a big house to wander around, a little togetherness can cause a lot of trouble. It can ruin a trip, or even a relationship.

It doesn't matter whether you're married, significant others, good friends or merely just headed the same direction -- it's well worth it to put in the time, thought and effort that will let you enjoy each other's company without driving each other crazy. Read on for our ideas and tips.

What's Your Style?
The first step in planning a peaceful trip is to identify your differences. Do you like to board planes first or last? Do you like to stroll through a trip or charge hard all day long? Do you like to linger at a meal or scarf it down and get moving again? Travel styles can differ greatly, even between spouses or close friends. Here are a few common differences:

  • Night people vs. day people: Does one of you like to trip the night fantastic, while the other wakes up at dawn? Travelers who can't sync their schedules may face a few conflicts.

  • Indoor people vs. outdoor people: I know two travelers who went around the world together. One simply wanted to hug the coast for the entire trip, never losing sight of the water; the other wanted to see great cities, great buildings and great museums. Needless to say, they found themselves at loggerheads a couple of weeks into the trip.

  • Planners vs. wanderers: Some travelers arrange each step of their itinerary ahead of time, while others prefer to wing it without so much as a map.

    Understand that these differences will be an issue, and be sure to talk about how to handle them before your trip begins. Compatible travel styles are probably more important than identical interests in predicting a successful travel partnership. Respect each other's style and be prepared to meet in the middle. There is no way but negotiation to settle such fundamental differences.

    How to Create the Perfect Itinerary

    Choosing Your Destination
    If there's anything on which you need a solid consensus, this is it. No matter what plans you make, precautions you take or tolerance you fake, if your trip takes you to the beach and your companion hates the ocean, or to the desert and your companion hates the heat, you're probably doomed.

    Make sure that both parties are involved in the decision-making process.Try to pick a destination that you'll both love or that has enough activities that no one gets bored. Former IndependentTraveler.com editor Carrie Calzaretta recently took a honeymoon cruise, and emphatically endorses this advice.

    couple deciding on direction"Although both of us were more than apprehensive about the idea of spending a week on a cruise ship for our honeymoon (crammed into a tiny cabin, dining with talkative strangers), we both knew there was no better way to see French Polynesia," Calzaretta relates. "So on day one, armed with our shore excursion sheets, we proceeded to pick out three activities a day, every day, for the duration of the trip. Horseback riding, scuba diving, safaris, you name it. For the most part we went together, but there were days when one went to the woods, the other to the shore.

    "That time spent away from each other actually brought us closer together; back at the ship we sat on the deck for hours and caught each other up on the events of the day."

    Check Each Other's Energy Levels
    Just because you are gung-ho to take a walking tour of every pub mentioned in James Joyce's "Ulysses" doesn't mean your traveling partner is up for the same. An important time to check each other's energy levels is right at the beginning of your trip; did one of you just come off a particularly tough stretch at work? Is one of you looking forward to a leisurely pace, the other ready to see all of Europe on $25 in 24 hours?

    Your saturation point and stamina may differ greatly as well; hitting your stride together might be even more important than hitting the sights together.

    10 Ways to Be a Less Annoying Travel Companion

    Equal Time or Just Equal Fun
    When planning your trip or even your day, it's usually a little like dance class; someone has to lead, and someone has to follow. If your relationship is based on equal time, it's best to know when it's your turn to lead and when to follow.

    It doesn't always have to be a matter of equal time, although that is a sound approach. Be aware of what is most important to your traveling companion, and what concessions will mean the most to them. In Kim's case, she knew how important the event was to Jim, and gave him the extra day. In fact, I saw Jim at the event without his wife when we crossed paths at a late-night party late in the week; Kim was already back at the hotel, sleeping. They were comfortable enough to let each other go their separate ways, and Kim had no problem letting Jim fly solo into the night while she went home to bed.

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