Traveling inspires, traveling invigorates. Traveling also reveals your biggest quirks, insecurities, and ticks, often before the plane’s seatbelt sign has even been turned off.
Whether packing a bag to vacation with a new lover or an old friend, don’t let a lack of communication get in your way of a great trip. Before you buckle up your seatbelt – on a plane, train, automobile or otherwise – with someone you haven’t traveled with before, be sure to discuss all of these kind of uncomfortable, totally necessary topics.
Bon voyage, friends!
1. Money, money, money.
It’s awkward, but you both have to talk about it. Before a single room is booked or activity is planned, get down to the nitty gritty as to how much you’re willing to spend on flights, hotels, food and whatnot.
Compromise is key, but – excuse me while I put on my financial advisor hat – don’t blow your IRA contribution for the year by springing for the Four Seasons of Wherever. Be upfront about your budget with your travel partner: “I really don’t want to spend more than _____ on _____.” Go for the Airbnb that’s in your price range but in the neighborhood he/she wants. Pay each other back promptly. Realize you may be spending more on certain things that aren’t a necessity for you, but that your travel partner is likely doing the same. Within reason, let it go. You are on vacation, after all!
It helps to preemptively work out certain scenarios. Will you split the tab in half if you ordered the steak and she ordered a salad? Will you spend the afternoon at the museum ($18/ticket) or the beach (free)? Will you take the subway or a cab?
2. Leave me alone, will ya?
A little bit of me-time is an absolute necessity, so find ways to sneak it in every day without making it seem like you’re ditching your travel bud. Go for a morning walk while they’re still snoozing. Wander the upstairs of a boutique while they’re downstairs. Agree to part ways for a few hours and meet back up to discuss your solo adventures over dinner.
3. Bon appetit.
“Are you getting hungry? What do you feel like eating? Does this place look okay? Are you having a glass of wine?”
Eating out for three meals a day while traveling can get exhausting and expensive, especially if you’re trying to marry someone else’s dietary likes and needs with your own. You might want to dive into a plate of oysters; they might head straight to the golden arches for a McSomething.
If you’re renting a place with a kitchen, consider going Dutch on groceries. Buy enough to cover breakfast and mid-day munchies so you can start your mornings slow and discuss the day’s itinerary together. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, just be sure to talk about your food habits before you take off – standing in the immigration line at an airport halfway across the world isn’t the time to announce you’re now vegan.
4. Airport etiquette.
How do you get to the airport – convince your friend who owes you a favor to give you a ride or spend too much on an Uber? Do you get to the airport right when boarding begins or do you like to be there hours early? Will you sit together on the plane? Do flights make you anxious? Will you be drinking 15 Bloody Marys in the Delta Sky Club? Do you generally sleep during flights? Got a game plan for jetlag?
Discuss, discuss, discuss.
5. Let’s talk about sex, baby.
Will you be having it? With each other? One time I thought I was going on a platonic trip with a platonic friend who thought otherwise. Not cool. It made the rest of the trip awkward and, for a while, it made our friendship awkward.
If you’re traveling with a new partner and you’ve already done the good deed, congratulations! Vacation sex is the sexiest sex. If you’re traveling with a single girlfriend, have a frank conversation about what’s going to happen if one of you meets a dreamy Parisian bartender. Will she happily busy herself for an hour so you and whatshisname and that bottle of wine he smuggled under his coat can have your studio apartment to yourself? Or will she not approve and resent you for the rest of the trip?
You don’t need me to remind you that friendship comes first. Every day I thank the Sexy Man Gods that I met that Moroccan soccer player in a mall in Montreal in 2012, but if my travel buddy didn’t approve of me going on an impromptu date with him, the stories wouldn’t be worth the lost friendship.
6. Beer, wine, everything fine.
One of my favorite memories of ever is when a girlfriend and I got appropriately Rioja’d up in Sevilla, Spain and meandered our way back to our hotel, nearly snapping all four ankles on the winding, cobblestone streets. We drank, we laughed, we hit the hay with headaches. Had we not been on the same page about letting loose over that dinner, how much you wanna bet the scene – loud American stumbles down the street, makes fool of herself and her country – wouldn’t have been so charming for one of us. I don’t want to babysit a grown human; I don’t want a grown human to babysit me.
Drink if you want, don’t if you don’t. But be aware of how your travel partner is feeling, and how you’ll both get home safe and sound and satisfied.
7. Snoozing time.
Bedtime rituals can be a sacred thing. Personally, I need a long wind-down of quiet, introverted time before dozing off. A book, a journal and a solid eight hours of sleep are musts for me. Whereas you might want to stay up ‘til 5:00 a.m., your travel pal might want to get up at 5:00 a.m. Get on the same page.
Also, there’s no good time to find out someone snores. Bring earplugs just in case.
Easy, right? Now go. Go see the world.
And remember, you can always just travel alone too.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er who muses about life, design and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. Her life rules include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tip in cash and contribute to your IRA. Be a pal and subscribe to her newsletter Night Vision.
BY Megan McCarty - November 11, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.