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January 7, 2010

Dealing with travel-partner conflicts

When one vagabonds alone, there is a sense of ease, of freedom. There is no one to answer to but yourself. Want to stop for half an hour to take pictures? Want to climb that mountain? Want to hit that bar? Want to jump off that waterfall? No problem! One just has to know what they want to do and take action.

A number of vagabonders travel with their partners or families. This opens up new levels of experiencing a place. More than one set of eyes can navigate better or see additional details in the surroundings. Traveling in pairs can be safer, and it’s harder to be taken advantage of. Not to mention that being able to share in the beauty of a place can be something special in and of itself, bringing you closer to your partner and providing rich memories that last a lifetime.

From Flickr, courtesy of yourdon

However, as soon as it’s not just you out in the world alone, interpersonal conflict is bound to occur. You want to stop and take pictures, but your partner is bored. You want to climb that mountain, but your partner is tired. Maybe they are dehydrated, underfed, underslept, homesick, not feeling well, or just plain cranky. Maybe they are just having a bad day. How you choose to deal with the situation can make the difference between something that is gotten over quickly and laughed at later over dinner, and something that lingers, builds resentment, and sets a gloom over the trip that can last for days or weeks afterward.

Of course, there are no set of rules that work for every person, couple, or family. Everyone’s needs are different. Some prefer to talk things out, others prefer to be left alone. Some need to vent their frustration and get it out of their system, and others need to be calmed down.

That said, here are a few tips that make common sense to consider in any conflict;

From Flickr, courtesy of tinkerrrbell

 

Following these simple tips can help anyone get through a bad situation with their traveling partners, and minimize the time spent being angry or upset with each other.  Especially when vagabonding, spending weeks or months abroad in challenging circumstances, maintaining solidarity is key.  While traveling alone avoids these issues, the value in sharing the world together easily outweigh such interpersonal difficulties.  I know that my wife and I tend to have a bad couple of hours every week or two spent abroad, but our relationship is that much stronger for both exploring the world and weathering the storms of discomfort together.

Posted by | Comments (37) 
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Advice


37 Responses to “Dealing with travel-partner conflicts”

  1. Kyle Says:

    Good post! After traveling with my wife for more than 2 years now I can say that it is not a very easy thing to do. I think your advice works pretty well, especially concerning eating food and drinking some water. It’s amazing how an empty stomach can cause and argument to get out of control.

    Of course after spending all this time together our relationship is much stronger and thoroughly battle tested. I know a lot of people like traveling alone, but traveling with a partner/family yields some amazing rewards as well.

  2. Paul Says:

    Bad day ? Try bad week ! After the first two days into our “mancation”, I realised that it was a tourture to do it with my best friend. We didn’t see each other for a couple years, and I didn’t realise that some people just don’t mature, grow up or desorver new interests.
    Even if its your best friend, close family or somebody you just met on Craigslist are on the exact same page ( “I

  3. Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Says:

    Great post! It’s a good idea to make sure you and your loved ones understand what it means to travel together. Discuss your travel plans before you leave. Think of scenarios or situations that could come up and how you’d handle them. Make it clear about what you’d like to see and let your travel buddies express their interests. You may realize that it’s not a good idea to travel together. This can save you aggravation and frustration in the long run!

  4. Beth Says:

    On just a one-month trip with my sweetie, we fought ragingly hard about 4 times. I’m not used to conflict, and they ended up rather spoiling my trip. It was a year ago, and I mentioned this to him the other day, and he basically said he didn’t even remember fighting :P . It’s all in what you think about – apparently the ‘fights’ I thought were so serious barely even blipped on his radar. Going to have to try it again I think – knowing that even though he was being nasty, it wasn’t personal or important enough to remember should help.

  5. GypsyGirl Says:

    That is good advice even if you are not travelling!I totally respect and believe the fact people can become closer through travel.
    Everyone is different-but personally I mostly vagabond alone,by default-because if one is going with me….I just strike out reguardless! After several years and thousands of miles- my friends have gotten use to just wondering where the heck I am!

  6. Jessica Says:

    I just finished a whirlwind roadtrip with my sweetie and my daughter. It was our first foray into what we hope will eventually be a life of travel. What a learning experience! We definitely experienced the effects of low blood sugar/dehydration on moods, coupled with extremely cold weather, and limited budgets. But overall it was a great experience. My daughter learned to “roll with it”, I learned that I need to figure out food and lodging before I can relax into a place, and he learned that traveling with two women (okay one and half women) means slowing down a little bit. Additionally, having the 10 year old along opened our eyes to things we would have missed otherwise—skating in Central Park, FAO Schwartz, Ben and Jerry’s factory tour, and making snow angels!

    I’ve traveled on my own for years, and so has my partner. Traveling together as a family presented challenges we didn’t expect, but ultimately was more enjoyable than any of my solo trips.

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