"I am NEVER travelling with her again"
Vacations have the potential of going dreadfully wrong. Impeccable plans, painful hours of research and carefully saved trip funds hold no meaning if your travel partner turns out to be your worst nightmare.
For most of us, our first concern is "where do we go"; when, who and how follow later. For some of us, this sequence works beautifully BUT there are those who are forced to reconsider the awful moment they planned to set off on a trip and more importantly the people they chose to go with. As harsh or insensitive as it may sound, it's true! 65% of potential awesome holidays are disasters simply because the people on the trip don't get along.
What goes wrong?
Of course, all of us travel for different reasons and 'to each his own' stands true every time you set out on a holiday with a group of people. But what happens if the people you are travelling with don't agree with your style of travelling? What happens when your travel companion sets his mind upon changing the way you travel? A horrible vacation.
You might be best friends or soul mates or chaddi buddies but it doesn't necessarily imply you are also travel buddies. And no, the only way to find out is not by travelling together. Though it's the easiest way to find out if you can possibly be travel companions, but if an unpredictable trip can be avoided - why not?
There are always signs, hints that help you understand if you'll get along with a certain person on a trip. Whether or not we accept the hints is a different story altogether. For instance, I am a planner. I love planning before a trip and during a trip; it's not necessary that everything goes according to plan but it's comforting to have one. I also don't appreciate lying around in a room when I could be out exploring a new place. Unfortunately for me, there have been a couple of trips where I have spent the entire morning for everyone to wake up, brush, have endless cups of tea, brush again, do their business (before breakfast, after breakfast), get ready and FINALLY leave the hotel around noon for a leisurely 3 hour lunch.
For a person like me, it was a disaster. And yet, I smiled through it all because yay, vacation. But I know how difficult it is to go to a new place and not enjoy the way you'd like to.
Small things matter
Before travel plans are made or even discussed, the traveller inside you will certainly warn you of the incoming incompatibility just as it will encourage you to take the plunge with the right travel buddy. Whether you choose to ignore the voice or listen to it, only a few bad trips can decide.
There are times when we convince ourselves that small things don't matter. For example, cleanliness in the washroom is important and even though your are almost OCDish about open toothpaste caps and open shampoo bottles - it's only a matter of few days. But you won't believe how much it matters and how it will affect your mood. You may curse yourself about being petty (it's a holiday after all) but you will also wish you had travelled with someone else.
It may seem obvious that like-minded people will have a great time on a holiday together but it is also true that one's travel personality can be starkly different than their ordinary, everyday behaviour. You might be the laziest person when it comes to shopping in the city but an opportunity to explore the market in Manali gets you on your feet in no time. Always keep in mind that kind of person you are on trips and also what you wish your travel companions are like.
Your best friend may not be your best travel friend
Yes, you have been friends for 16 years, you know each other better than anyone else but it's alright if you can't stand each other on vacations. She wants to party and you want to go on a sightseeing spree; she'd rather see the museums and you'd rather chill at a cafe; she needs to do everything together on a holiday and you want your space. If both of you can accept your varied interests, give each other space and yet have an amazing holiday together, go ahead. But if you know you are going to be cranky and snappy, don't get on that flight/bus/train/car.
Save yourself the memory of a horrible trip with your best friend.
Even if you are a compromising traveller and are up for any and all plans - it would still be smarter to travel with people you are comfortable with. A vacation is the perfect opportunity to do as you please without guilt, it's an experience that alter lives and it's best if you make your own memories rather than be part of someone else's plans (even for the non-planners, there's a lot of scope).
While travelling, most of us tend to forget what we want from our vacation. While mostly the purpose is to get away from the maddening schedules and the mundaneness of daily life - wouldn't you want to do so exactly the way you'd want.
Take a bad trip and make it better
Now there are times when we are stuck with the kind of travel partners who are extremely different than us but due to inexplicable circumstances we have to travel only with them. Well, all is not lost. There are ways through which you can have a great holiday and in time perhaps develop a tolerance towards an unlikely partner.
Begin with having a conversation with this person or the group of people. You might be considered bossy, bitchy or petty but remember it's for your own good. Politely let them know what you want from this vacation but please, oh please don't dry to direct anyone's vacation for them. Everyone's allowed to do what they want and if you'd like to participate, great; if not carry on with the things you enjoy.
If you are travelling with your spouse or partner, it tends to get slightly tricky. In a couple's trip, the person who likes to do everything together is stuck with a sour bargain. If your partner wants to take you trekking and you'd like to just spend the day reading - communicate this as logically, politely as possible. It's perfectly fine for two individuals to enjoy two different things at the same time. IF you do choose to go along with your spouse, don't crib. Enjoy the activity as much as you can and who knows, you may truly start appreciating the activity in question.
Though the people around you do matter, all is not lost. The way a trip turns out is mostly in your hands (if all other factors remain constant). Even with a bunch of people who absolutely despised water sports or any other kind of adventure, I manage to para sail my way across the sea (I like things dramatic). It's a different matter that it took me two frustrating trips to finally do something on my own (away from the group, you see).
More importantly, you know the kind of traveller you are. So be honest with yourself and travel with people you are sure to get along with. If you need your space in the mountains, travel with a couple of people and not a big group. If you want to party, then avoid going with someone who enjoys peace and quiet.
Travelling has the potential of changing your life, only if you let it!