Staying friends on the road: Part 2: How to save a travel friendship when it all blows up
As we discussed in part one, being on the road can be a source of friction – even when you’re backpacking with a firm BFF that you've never argued with before. Whether you've argued about substandard accommodation, heat exhaustion, what to see, or something as trivial as map-reading skills, here's some advice on what to do when everything goes wrong…
Travel solo for a while
Travelling alone has many obvious and not-so-obvious advantages: you are in control, you can do what you want when you want, and you don't have to worry about other people when things go wrong. If you want to wake up extra early to see the sunrise, take a nap in the afternoon, or go to bed early, you can. If you want to go to the same restaurant to eat the same pizza or kebab, you can. You’re free to be as lazy or as frantic as you like. But at the same time, it reminds you what you’re missing…
Starting to miss having travel buddies? They probably are too
After travelling solo, you might realise you miss the lengthy conversations you had about Renaissance art and Western philosophy when you were backpacking in Italy. You may have preferred some company while watching that spectacular sunset in the Greek Islands, or longed for a little companionship during those tiring bus journeys across Argentina. If you’ve started feeling that way, your pal probably does too. Why not text or email and suggest a beer?
Once you're back with your travel companions, learn to comprise
If you love an ambitious hike but your friends don’t, find a solution everyone is happy with. For example, if you're backpacking the Inca Trail in Peru, you could hike the awe-inspiring 43-kilometre route, and your friends could simply take the train from Cuzco. In any case, the final stop is Machu Picchu, which means you'd still end up meeting each other at the same finishing point.
The main point here is to make sure everyone can travel at a pace that's right for them, whether that means hiking 15 kilometres in a day, or only using public transport. Comprising can be a great way to move on from past conflicts and avoid new ones when backpacking with friends – it’s isn’t just a great skill to develop for travel, it’s one that’ll help you for the rest of your life.
Don't be afraid to suggest some scheduled alone time
If you want to go to an art gallery, but your friend would prefer to visit the food market, why not separate for a few hours and meet each other later on? Remember, it's your holiday just as much as it is theirs, so don't waste it by doing something you won't enjoy just for their sake. When you've experienced different sights and met different people, you'll have much more to talk about at the end of the day.