How To Love Your Travelling Companions – Top Tips For A Great Holiday Part 3
When it comes to time, the differences we may have in our day to day lives are hugely exacerbated when we are on holiday. Whether you are travelling with someone who takes two hours to get ready in the morning, or someone who would rather sleep all afternoon than explore those forest trails, how we choose to spend our time on holiday can be a minefield. Whoever you are travelling with, and however long you are travelling for, following a few simple guidelines can help you to avoid arguing and enjoy a wonderful holiday together.
When it comes to time, the differences we may have in our day to day lives are hugely exacerbated when we are on holiday because we know exactly how much time we have. Whether it's two nights or two weeks, that time often seems infinitely more precious than the time we have back at home. If you are annoyed with your partner because you feel they work too much, how are you going to feel when they spend time on their Blackberry or hiding behind an English broadsheet when you've been fantasising about the quality time you'd spend together in the pool. Or how are you going to feel when they want to take time out to watch that special match in a dingy Irish pub, when you want to be out trekking?
Well first of all, pick your battles. Does it really matter if they want to spend time watching sport when you secretly would rather be reading a magazine cover to cover? If they want to do something that doesn't initially appeal to you – give it a go. I've probably spent more time on holiday watching sport than I've done at home. Why? Because it's not my thing, but I go on holiday with a lot of people who love it – sometimes it's great, other times I desperately want to go back to the hotel and have a sleep, but it's always an experience.
And… if you are willing to give someone else's choice of activity, bar or restaurant a go, then they'll be much more willing to give your ideas a go too.
As with money, agreeing things in advance and compromising can be the best solution, but sometimes you can compromise too much – when you are arguing over a restaurant choosing one that neither of you minds can sometimes be a let down for you both – why not go to their choice one night, even if it's not your cup of tea (or bowl of chai) and your choice the next – once again you might not enjoy it, or you might discover something new and fun. When you're on holiday is a great time to shake things up and get out of dull habits, even if you just try something once and decide it's not for you.
When I'm on holiday with someone we often take turns to pick the next thing we're going to do – or pick the one thing that we really want to do. As long as I got to visit La Pedrera in Barcelona I wasn't too fussed about seeing anything else. Yes, of course I still tried to see everything (impossible in a weekend) but my biggest ambition had been satisfied.
For example if your biggest goal on a trip to Paris is to see the Louvre it might be best not to wait until the very last day. Not that I've ever been on holiday with anyone who's done this!
Time is precious, time on holiday even more so, and for me, one of the most impatient people in the world, this means that one of my biggest bugbears is waiting for people to get ready. What to do? Well, sometimes I'll get up early and go for breakfast or a long walk or visit a sight that I know they're not interested in – I'll get a text saying they've had a shower and breakfast and where the hell am I? Sometimes I'll get my stuff together and say I'll meet them outside where I can sit and enjoy a coffee in the sun. Sometimes I'll have another half an hour's sleep while they're in the shower. Sometimes I'll head to the hotel's internet cafe and try to find more fun we can squeeze into the day. Sometimes I'll just read the guidebooks and work out the maps. In short I try to do whatever I can to make the time pleasurable and not be sitting fuming as the seconds of MY holiday tick by.
Or sometimes you just need to have the disagreement. The last time I travelled I felt really jealous of the couples in line at the airport, but by the time we got to the last hotel I felt nothing but glad that I wasn't one of the half a dozen couples sitting, eating their meals in silence, unsmiling, resentful. Along with the idea of the perfect holiday is the idea that "we mustn't argue" – because an argument on holiday would be a really bad thing? But if the alternative is sitting sulking or resenting the person next to you for the next however many days, isn't a straightforward disagreement better?
In Barcelona my sister and I disagreed about shopping. I wanted to sight see, she wanted to buy souvenirs - when we had an open discussion we both felt that the other was trying to control us – to tell us what to do. So we agreed, as far as that afternoon went – we were on the outskirts of Barcelona – we'd stick together and compromise, but when we were back in the centre if we wanted to do different things we'd just split up. Having made that decision we spent most of the rest of the trip together, but feeling much more relaxed.
Sometimes you might get so annoyed with someone that you need to split up for a bit. After a night at the ESPN bar in New York I was snarky with my boyfriend, especially because he wanted to visit the NBA shop. He helped me find a place for a pedicure and left me to it. I decided to go back to our hotel room for a nap (we had a big Saturday night planned) and I was so tired I even got on the wrong train. As soon as I lay down and relaxed I started to worry about him – would he get back okay, and behind that worry I realised how much I missed him and wished he were there.
We often feel on holiday that we can't split up and do our own thing – after all the whole point of a holiday is to be together, isn't it? But taking an afternoon or a day out to do something for yourself can really make the rest of the time you spend together magical. Your boyfriend may not be keen on a spa trip, but a few hours of pampering while he goes shopping or visits those ancient ruins, can make for a blissful evening together.
Above all, consider whether this is someone you want to go away with at all. Lover, best friend or sister, some relationships are just better on home ground. There are now so many options for single travel, including joining up with a big like-minded group, there is no reason to spend time with someone who you are incompatible with on a trip.
My best male friend and I had a whale of a time when we were together – but whenever the idea of a holiday came up it was swiftly vetoed – why? Because we agreed – we'd kill each other. We are both stubborn, outspoken, more so when we are together and I would rather have stayed friends with him than have someone to go on holiday with. But finally we had to travel together – to a friend's birthday in France – some of it was wonderful, we laughed hysterically all the time and there are moments from that break that will stay with me forever, there were even times when we didn't disagree. Did we get cranky, narky with each other and have a blazing row about where to drop the Avis hire car key in Le Havre. Absolutely. Did it spoil the holiday? No, because we knew that we are not ideally suited as travel companions and most of our time was already planned out. Did it spoil our friendship? No, but it did get closer than I expected. Would I travel to a party with him again? Absolutely, but I'll never rent a car from Avis again!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pearl Howie (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org) runs Pearl Escapes http://www.pearlescapes.co.uk a fledgling website devoted to finding safe, easy and affordable escapes - holidays, spa treatments, days out, etc. and providing great advice at every step of your journey.
In order to give the best possible information Pearl only includes things that she has actually tried - whether it is a spa, hotel or flight. Visit the website to read her Recommendations, plus the ones that didn't quite make it and the Jellyfish that you should absolutely avoid! Or visit her blog http://www.pearlescapes.co.uk/Basics/Pearls_Blog/Pearls_Blog.html to read about some of the adventures she has along the way.