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18 Ways to Keep the Peace with Your Travel Companion

women friendsDo Your Own Legwork
Want to go to a museum? Find out on your own what tickets cost, how to get there and when it's open. Then when you drag your companion along, he or she doesn't have to worry about all the logistical hassles and might actually enjoy the experience. Sweeten the pot by paying the admission fee or treating your companion to lunch as well.

10 Things to Do Before You Travel

Cultural Issues
When choosing your destination, be careful to consider cultural and language issues. Does one of you know a language well, while the other can only garble language book phrases? Is one of you an expert skier, the other strictly a kiddie-sloper? One of you might feel left out in these cases.

Consider One Another's Routines
What about routine activities, like a cherished daily run or leisurely breakfast? Not everyone accounts for these types of activities when planning a trip, but forcing your partner to go without can cause considerable friction.

If you are addicted to your 7 a.m. jog or to sipping coffee and reading the newspaper all morning, get up 30 minutes early to make your routine fit.

Break Out So You Don't Break Up
Don't be afraid to launch out alone. This may not be advisable late at night or in dangerous neighborhoods, so you should consider these issues carefully. But as Calzaretta notes above, it doesn't hurt to take a walk on your own or to head your separate ways for a day or an afternoon.

Taking Your Work With You
These days, it's the rare person who can leave his or her work behind completely while traveling. If you absolutely must stay in touch with the office, do it on your own time. Wake up early to answer e-mail or make calls while your companion naps. Plan in advance when you are going to work and give your companion enough notice to make other plans. (Get more tips in How to Escape While Staying Connected.)

Pack Separate Bags
Especially for short trips, it may seem more efficient to pack a single bag, then take separate carry-ons. Think twice before you do this.

First off, one person ends up carrying it -- which can lead to resentment if one of you has to lug a heavy bag bulging with the other's souvenirs.

Second, packing style is a very personal trait. Some people are neat, compartmentalizing clean and dirty clothes, shirts and pants, etc. Others stuff dirty clothes into corners, pile everything else in and sit on the bag to get it to shut. There'll be enough differences between you to deal with; skip this one.

Five Worst Packing Problems

Don't Overschedule
When traveling solo, if you get tired you simply skip an event or two. When traveling together, one person's optional event is another's dream day. If you schedule in some down time, you'll be able to kick back without forcing anyone to give up cherished activities.

Agree on a General Budget
While traveling together usually helps you save money, a consensus on how much money you'd like to spend is important. For example, how, when and where you eat is a fundamental component of traveling. If one person spends freely on restaurants while the other prefers to save money by going to the grocery store, you could be headed for a major clash. Decide ahead of time on a budget that's agreeable to both parties, and stick to it.

Keep Your Head in a Crisis
lost irritated couple road trip car argument fightIn the event of airport delays, lost luggage and other minor disasters, keep your head and consider carefully whether to open your mouth. Angry words said in a stressful moment can have lasting effects throughout the rest of your trip. (Prepare for the worst with our tips for coping with travel trouble.)

Share the Load for Decisions
I've found that traveling with someone who always agrees, always defers and always does whatever I want to do is harder than traveling with an itinerary tyrant. I'd rather someone speak his or her mind than go along miserably.

On the other hand, there's nothing like travel to bring out the control freak in some folks. If one of you particularly savors or has a talent for dealing with logistics, let that person have at it!

Talk About It
Especially on a leisure trip or vacation, everything is flexible and negotiable. Changing plans can be as simple as saying something like, "I'm tired; want to sleep in tomorrow?" Your companion might just agree. Alternatively, if he or she has done the legwork as I advise above, your companion might reply that the ferry to the mountain hike doesn't run again until the afternoon, and that if you miss it, you're not going hiking that day.

Often the best and most memorable travel is unexpected and unscripted; it can be a little trickier to find these happy accidents when traveling with another person, but it can be done. Remember that these negotiations and changes are part of traveling.

Special Concerns: Visiting Family
Many of us like to take our partners back to the place we grew up, to give them the grand tour. And as often as not, they find themselves sitting in living rooms reminiscing over times and events that they never experienced.

For you, sitting around with old friends and family is perfectly amusing; for your traveling partner, it gets old -- fast. Be sure to plan enough time so that the trip actually feels like a vacation, rather than a never-ending audition or meet-and-greet.

Poll: Your Travel Companion's Most Annoying Habits

A Simple "Thank You" Never Hurts
If your traveling companion has spent the day tagging along on your idea of a good time, a sincere "thank you for coming with me; it was better with you along" goes a long way.

happy couple on beachDon't Forget to Smell the Roses
Calzaretta adds one final reminder, especially for couples: "Tips and tricks aside, don't forget that the reason you took the trip was to spend time together. Mark and I usually agree to go on at least one 'date' together near the end of the vacation -- flowers, manners, the whole nine -- which inevitably reminds us that despite the occasional rock in the road, we really love to be together."

There you have it: how to travel together without tearing each other's throats out!

To discuss this and other Traveler's Ed articles, visit the Traveler's Ed Message Board.

Go Anyway,
Ed Hewitt
Features Editor
The Independent Traveler


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