I had a lovely vacation though! It was just so nice to get away, have a change of scenery and make our own schedule for a few days. This trip was an interesting one in many ways* - of course, the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the places we visited were all interesting - but it was also a milestone of sorts because it was the first extended trip that the boy and I took together.
I always say that if you really want to get to know someone and learn whether or not you are truly compatible with each other, you should take a trip with them. When traveling, you can see sides of a person that you might never see interacting with them on a day-to-day basis. You could know someone for decades, talk to them on the phone or see them every single day, and exchange many deep, dark secrets and still be surprised at how they act and how you get along when you travel together.
Generally when you travel, the full gambit of emotions tends to come out at one time or another. Travel is tiring and it dehydrates you, plus you are eating, getting up, going to sleep and doing other things at different times (and sometimes in different ways or in a different order) than you normally would, meeting new people, being thrust into completely new situations and generally experiencing unfamiliarity wherever you turn.
This, of course, is one of the great things about travel (and one of my favourite things about it) but it can also wreak havoc on your disposition. Regardless of where you are going and when, the actual "traveling" part of the travel is not the most enjoyable - it's normally very tiring and tedious (being squeezed into a tiny airplane seat or standing in endless line-ups when flying? Sitting in traffic and staring down seemingly endless stretches of highway, dealing with reckless morons and countless detours when driving? Anyone?). I personally hate the actual "traveling" part, and just can't wait to GET to where I'm going. It depends of course, but generally I wish I could just teleport myself to wherever I want to go and skip all the bull.
Given the fact the traveling can often be tiring and tedious, it often means that either you, your traveling companion or both end up cranky, irritable, moody, stressed and frustrated at some point or another and this means that one or both of you gets to see the other in a light that is not necessarily the most flattering.
Aside from the conditions of traveling, different people have different traveling "styles", meaning that they like to structure their trip in different ways. Some people prefer to be uber-organized and have every hour of every day planned ahead of time, and like to cram in as many sights as possible during their time in that place. Some people prefer to be laid-back and not plan anything, just go out and wander and see where the day takes them. Some people like to visit every museum and read every plaque, while some people are content with a quick look at one or two things, or prefer to skip the tourist attractions altogether in favour of exploring back alleys.
I would say I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I DO like to make the most of my time somewhere, so I try to figure out what main things I want to see before I go and at least come up with a basic plan for what to do and when. I also like to try and get up as early as I can so that half the day is not wasted. However, I DO NOT like to schedule my day so tightly that I have no wiggle room and I am exhausted after only a few hours. I like to keep my schedule flexible and I always like to take time to just wander and explore and visit some lesser known sights.
Given my middle-of-the-road traveling style, chances are I would go nuts traveling with someone whose style is closer to either extreme end (hyper-organized or super-laid-back) or has completely different interests. For example, my mom and I travel great together because we tend to want to visit the same sort of attractions (we both love anything arts-related, interesting museums, historical places, shopping/markets, etc) and we have a similar attitude to travel. On the other end of things, when I visited Amsterdam a few years ago with a group of girls from a University in the US (we were all living in London at the time taking a course at Regent's College), one of the gals and I ended up breaking off on the second day because all the other 3 wanted to do was sit in "koffee houses" (for those of you that are not familiar with Amsterdam's well-known attractions, it should be noted that these places do not actually serve coffee) all day long. BOR-ING. And lets be honest, if I really wanted to smoke weed all day long I could do that at home.
Luckily, I have discovered that the boy and I have similar travel styles as well because we traveled quite well together this vacation. I would definitely say I am more of a "planner" than he is, but generally we wanted to visit the same things and were open to suggestion from the other person.**
Which brings me to another point about traveling companions - you also need to remember that it is your COMPANION's trip too. You should try and compromise and do your best to ensure that you BOTH get the most of the trip. Don't throw a tantrum because you do not get to do exactly what you want when you want. Guess what, kid?! That's life. I'm not saying you should compromise all the time as you are guaranteed to not have any fun and I do not think you should miss things you really want to take in just because your companion doesn't want to, but you should be flexible, considerate and open-minded. If you can't manage to do that, you should probably travel alone. Or if you and your companion really cannot agree on a compromise, than go your separate ways for a few hours! Hello, you are not attached at the hip! And trust me, you will regret it forever if you come home having followed someone else around the entire week when you really didn't want to.
Anyway, my point is you may not be a good traveling companion for everyone in your life, even for people that you see on a daily basis and love very much, and not everyone in your life will necessarily be a good traveling companion for you. And that's ok! But if you can find someone that you can travel with, it is certainly a nice thing and I think it's a tougher thing to find than a lot of people realize. I am happy that the boy and I made it through this trip without murdering each other (as you can see, I am clearly still here and I can assure you he is, too - you will just have to trust me on this one, unfortunately). I see many more trips in our future and that makes me really happy. Traveling is something I really enjoy and will always really enjoy, and it is so nice to have someone in my life that shares my passion. We are already planning our NEXT road trip!
Who do you like to travel with and why? What is YOUR traveling style?*this trip was also awesome because it means I get to cross another item off my 30 B4 30 list!! (see left sidebar) That would be #20: Take a Road Trip - DONE! Bazinga!
**of course, it helps that my boy is very laid-back and easy to please - I have to admit I would not necessarily say I am "laid-back" (I tend to be high-strung and a "worrier") but he is helping me do this more and I am becoming more so over time when it comes to travel