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How to travel with your best friend

| Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It’s not easy, traveling. It’s stressful, it’s expensive and most importantly it involves a lot of decision-making. The other day I was accused of being indecisive because I don’t care, however, it’s quite the opposite. I’m indecisive because I care enough to be indifferent. I understand that I’ll pretty much enjoy whatever comes along, and I keep my expectations low (my key to happiness, but that’s another article). It’s better to realize when you don’t care enough to make a decision and thus are happy with whatever. Once in a psych class, I had to read this article about choosing; it was talking about how people who are given fewer options are happier, but the people who are the happiest about outcomes are the ones that didn’t make a decision at all. There was a comparison to ordering at a restaurant; the people who looked the menu over once and then chose from memory were more satisfied than those who studied, but even yet the most satisfied customers were the ones that ordered whatever the chef recommended. Why is this all related? Well because like I said, traveling takes a lot of decision-making and it’s harder when you’re tired, and it’s even harder when you’re with someone you love (i.e. you’re best friend for 9 years). So here are my tips for traveling with your best friend and making sure you still have a best friend at the end.

First, different taste in men.

If you and your best friend are traveling together, make sure you don’t have the same taste in men. Why? Because then there will be no fighting over who gets whom at the club, bar, pub or whatever they’re called in whatever country you’re in. If you do have the same taste, then make sure you trade off one by one — sounds ridiculous but it works. Better yet, if you have the same taste in men, but one of you already has a significant other, than just make sure to play a good wing woman — both of you — make sure your new interest has a friend to occupy your friend so no one gets bored or feels left out (it’d be even better if his friend also had a significant other so they could keep each other in check and you wouldn’t have to worry about it). Or do what us Americans do and just say: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” but just say it anywhere. Like when in Rome — hardly anyone is actually in Rome or Vegas when saying both these things.

Second, be the same size in clothes (and preferably shoes if possible)

This makes traveling together so much easier and less stressful because you only have to pack half as much as you’d think. Plus, if you forget anything there’s a much higher chance your better half remembered it. For example: I didn’t even bother bringing shampoo and conditioner, because I know my best friend has the softest most beautiful flowing golden locks so she would be prepared to take care of them. I could borrow her hair products and, in exchange, she could borrow my classy euro-chic-functional fashion. If you’re wiling to share clothes, and more, packing becomes almost a nonissue as there will always be something to wear.

Third, never be in a rush.

The key is to never rush the person you’re with. Traveling is stressful enough, especially when you don’t speak the language or don’t quite understand the currency (here’s looking at you, Budapest). There’s no reason to be rushing through things when you’re enjoying them. However, you should still keep track of time. Here’s my little trick; if you think you need to leave somewhere or you’re running short on time, never suggest that yourself. What you should do instead is ask your best friend what time it is and then ask, “Well, what time are we supposed to be at our next stop?” Or, “How long do you think it’ll take to get from here to the next place?” If you ask these questions it will make the other person feel better about leaving, they won’t feel rushed, but they’ll feel like they’re staying on track and with some sort of a schedule. Quasi-inception move.

Fourth, don’t suffer silently, but don’t be a complainer

If there’s really something you want to do, say it, or if you’re really not enjoying something express those thoughts. Suffering in silence is not going to get you anywhere. Actually, it might get you out of a friendship because we all know how this goes; you get annoyed, get cranky, then you say, “No, I’m fine.” When you’re not, then the other person gets upset because you’re upset. Soon enough you’re both mad and upset and no one is having a good time — not ideal. However, that doesn’t mean you can complain about every little thing that is bothering you. For example: the weather. No one can change the weather, so there’s no point in complaining every five seconds about it. Traveling is all about the experience, so you have to embrace the weird food, bad accommodations, struggling with linguistics, poorly spent money and just general annoyances with humanity. But, at least you had the opportunity to be annoyed with the loud, snoring Asian man sitting next to you on the train while his friend took business calls in a piercingly loud and high pitched tonal language. Or, complain together. It’s good bonding.

Fifth, sleeping and eating

Possibly the biggest mistake people make while traveling with people is assuming that everyone else needs the same amount of sleep and food that they themselves need. Personally, I don’t really need to sleep more than a couple hours a night to function normally and typically can get on very well off one meal a day. However, some people need eight hours of sleep a night in order to not catch a deadly cold, or turn into the Sphinx. Make sure you accommodate for these things. If someone says, “I’m hungry.” Find some food for her, even if you’re not hungry yourself.

There are a lot of ways to screw up a friendship and there are even more ways that friendships sometimes just dissolve naturally. However, if you are truly best friends, Aristotle says you’ll stay that way. He states in nicomachean ethics, “So too they are pleasant; for the good are pleasant both without qualification and to each other, since to each his own activities and others like them are pleasurable, and the actions of the good are the same or like. And such a friendship is as might be expected permanent, since there meet in it all the qualities that friends should have.” So apologies to my best friend, but according to Aristotle, you’re stuck with me, even if I don’t take any of my own advice from above.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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