When Traveling with Friends Gets Complicated

October 24, 2012

I spent this weekend in Dublin, and more than once I found myself asking the question, “We’re still friends, right?”  The only friend I’ve really traveled with back home is someone I met in college and, I’m learning more and more, someone that I really click with for traveling. I’ve never fought with this friend—I really don’t think we’ve even ever disagreed and even getting lost on trips with her is fun. For my limited travel experience, I’m lucky to have found someone that I can vibe with that well during something as stressful as traveling.  But so far, during my study abroad, I haven’t been quite as lucky.

Traveling with Friends

Before I go on, I should say that the people I traveled with this weekend are awesome. There were four of us for most of the time, myself included, and another friend that met up with us for the last day we were in the city. They’re really cool, fun people that I connect with in a lot of different ways. (One of the girls is a feminist activist, so obviously she’s extra great.) I wouldn’t have wanted to travel with them at all if we didn’t get along to begin with, but I certainly got to know them all in a different light during this trip.

It’s not even that anything HORRIBLE happened. We actually all had a great trip and really enjoyed everything we did. But, sometimes it’s the little things that happen in between all the really fun stuff that stand out the most. Like when I told my one friend I really liked something we saw in a shop window, and she ripped it apart as being cheesy, stupid, tacky, and ridiculous. Or, when I was eating leftovers and my friend ripped the fork out of my hand before I could even start and just dug in for himself. Or when that same friend threw a temper tantrum at the rest of us when we refused to cross the street when the crosswalk was red.  These little thing—things that happened in a matter of seconds—completely changed how I saw not only my friends, but myself too.

I realize I will never be an aggressive, balls-to-the-wall traveler. Which makes sense because I’m not that kind of person in general. I’m cautious, patient, some even say neurotic. I ask for directions wherever I go. I wait for the light to turn green before I cross the road. And I always try to stay positive and patient in whatever situation I may be in. I know we’re all different and the world would be boring if we weren’t but I really wish my friends had those same ideas, especially when traveling. Going new places with people who are self-consumed and kind of incapable of dealing with their emotions is really hard. Like real, real hard. This weekend if I wasn’t the moderator of an argument, I was playing someone’s mom or girlfriend and that really wasn’t I signed up for.

I guess now that I’m back safe and sound in Bath and can reflect on the entirety of my Dublin experience, I can say safely that traveling with friends is complicated. Everyone brings plenty of good and bad qualities to the travel table, and really it’s impossible to know how well you’ll click with someone as a travel partner until you’re in the experience. Some people work better together than others. Personally, I like to think I can travel with anyone since I can be mediator, mom, girlfriend, and babysitter all at once.

About Laura Alexander

Since graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Laura has traveled and learned and occasionally even taught. She’s a feminist who is passionate about education, survivor-centered justice, and coffee. After a year living in Malaysia, Laura is back stateside teaching sexual assault prevention to college students.

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