Travelling is fun. Or, it’s supposed to be. More often than not, the people you’re with play a big role. I once found myself in a situation where I could not get along with my chosen travel partner. In the middle of the road trip I decided to break up.
I was travelling in Australia and ended up in Broome, after an organized tour through the Kimberley. After a few days I was desperate to get out and continue along to coast to Perth. There weren’t many ads looking for travel partners, so when I met mine I was only too eager to get going. The moment I met her I already had my doubts. I should have listened to my instinct.
At first things were fine. We started to get to know each other a bit and were still figuring out how to interact. Since I was travelling in her van and she still had some basic food we could use, we agreed I would pay for the first few shopping rounds. She wouldn’t tell me exactly how much she wanted off me though.
I know I am hammering on the money issue here, but as a traveler you are on a budget, and money is precious. For two people being in the same situation, you’d think there would be a sort of understanding. There wasn’t. I’d paid for some shopping, contributed towards some extra camping gear and was told that I’d paid enough. Then suddenly I’m at the cash register and my ‘friend’ expects me to pay again. I refuse and tell her I’ve paid more than enough for whatever we are using. Frustration grows.
We met up with another car with two travelers and spent a lot of time going to the same places. Since my travel mate was German, the boy in the other car was German, and the girl from the other car could speak German, the conversations tended to be in German. I do understand German, but don’t feel comfortable speaking it.
Slowly the conversation in the car started to switch to German. She was speaking German to me! I was speaking English and getting highly frustrated about being excluded in everything now. We also turned out to be opposites in character. I was active, eager to set up camp and start cooking, loved to go walking and exploring. She was laid back, taking a lot of time for smoking and sitting around, rather sitting on a beach than exploring the area.
Later on, we took the girl from the other car in our van for a few days. We split all the costs, but after the whole trip, without warning, she started charging the poor girl for use of the van and the little bit of salt she may have eaten. Since my travel buddy was on the phone, I took the money off her. Apparently that was outrageous and the money was meant for my buddy’s personal account. I gave it to her, but my level of irritation had skyrocketed by now and this was the final drop. I was done with the whining.
We tried to talk about it. After being accused of not being fun enough (who was the one planting her bum on a beach/bench/patch of grass?), I told her she could drop me off in Coral Bay. There was a lot I wanted to say, but didn’t. It wouldn’t have made it any better. I wasn’t nearly in Perth yet, but an enormous load fell off my shoulders. I was so relieved and felt like I could breathe again. My time travelling with this girl wasn’t a complete waste. I got along really well with the other girl. I still had fun, but it could have been better. I guess I learned my lesson.
The constant frustration had brought out the worst in me. I was agitated by the smallest things, because we couldn’t seem to find anything we both liked. I felt like nothing I did was good enough and I had no say in what was going on. I couldn’t get this out of my head and it almost ruined my holiday. It shouldn’t be this hard.
Lessons from the road.
1. Get to know a person before you go.
2. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
3. Make arrangements about what you are expected to pay. Make sure they are not vague. Set rules and stick to them.
4. Make sure you’re on the same wavelength. What are the travel plans and the activities they want to do?
5. If things are not working out, there is always an alternative. No matter how scary, letting your travel partner go is better than travelling with someone you start to despise.