13 fights you’ll inevitably have with your travel companion
Holidays are never as perfect as they appear on Instagram. Beneath the #wanderlust hashtag lies a pile of passive-aggressive stares, entire afternoons of silent treatment and strained “I thought you were taking care of that” conversations with the person you’re travelling with. Don’t get me wrong—the arguments are worth the adventure—but whether you’re with your partner in crime, your best buddy since grade school or the love of your life (whom you met on the hostel’s pub crawl last night), these are the 13 fights that will surely flare up between you and your travel pal at one point or another.
1. The itinerary fight
Everyone sees the world differently. I mean, Nickelback are objectively terrible but they’ve somehow managed to sell more than 50 million albums, so there’s no accounting for taste. And travel is no exception. Some people prefer cities, others like mountains, the rest head to the beach. But even when you agree on where to go, that’s just the beginning of the questions. How long do we need in each place? Long bus ride or expensive flight? Dorm or private room? Fail to compromise and it’s not so much the itinerary fight as the itinerary fights, plural.
2. The luggage fight
Some people cram a couple of t-shirts, a few pairs of socks and maybe a change of undies into a backpack and they’re ready to roll for the rest of eternity. Others need to stow away eight pairs of shoes, the entire contents of their bathroom cabinet and the DVD box set of The Office before they even consider stepping out the front door. That’s not really a problem until you decide to split the carrying duties 50-50—or, worse, the overweight luggage fee on the plane.
3. The budget fight
Ah, money. The source of most fights in any relationship, and that tension doesn’t disappear the moment you hop on a plane. Travel’s not cheap—eating out, activities and tacky tourist souvenirs all add up—but if there’s any difference of opinion around how much should be spent on what, or what a novelty oversized Oktoberfest beer stein is truly worth and whether you can just get it for cheaper on Amazon when you get home and whether that’s actually “authentic”—ugh, watch out.
4. The who calls the shots fight
A natural planner and an instinctive lead-follower make for a strong travel partnership. But any other combination equals fireworks in a backpack. And one spark that never fails to light the fuse? Backseat driving. Navigating a roundabout on the opposite side of the road is hard enough when you’re doing it for the first time, but when you’ve also got someone describing in frustrated detail how you just missed your exit for the second time? Oh boy.
5. The we’re lost fight
The advent of the iPhone and Google Maps should have consigned the ‘we’re lost’ argument to the grave, resting in peace alongside travellers’ cheques, internet cafes and prepaid phone cards. Alas, even with all-knowing Siri holding your hand, it’s still entirely possible to find yourself wandering down the wrong path or split up from your travel buddy. And then there’s that whole “where the hell were you?” conversation. “I was waiting in reception/on the platform/sitting on a park bench with my head in my hands making a public embarrassment of myself.”
6. The hangry fight
Hungry plus angry equals hangry. Hanger plus a long day of sightseeing equals a desperate decision to spend $38 on some overpriced, underwhelming burger just to avoid a nuclear meltdown because someone forgot to pack a granola bar. Is it worth it? Every single time, yes. And knock on wood you never combine the hangry fight with any of the other fights on this list. Might as well just pack up and head home if you find yourself there.
7. The party fight
Just when one of you is starving for a big night out, the other’s got their heart set on tucking into two litres of ice cream while binge-watching 13 episodes of Parks and Rec back at the hostel. So one of you stays in while the other goes out and inevitably…
8. The crush fight
Backpacking is romantic. That statement will resonate with anyone who’s ever tried to sleep in a dorm while an amorous couple assumed the bed sheet they hung over their bunk served as some kind of cone of silence. And when your travel pal goes out for the night and meets the love of their life, that can cause some serious friction when Romeo and Juliet come face to face with their third wheel in the morning. For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo and his grumpy friend Kevin.
8. The alone-time fight
At the other end of the companionship spectrum, too much time together carries its own set of problems. If distance makes the heart grow fonder, then proximity, well, you get the picture. Ever since you stopped lugging around your security blanket as a three-year-old you’ve never really spent 24 hours a day with someone, so backpacking with a buddy can be a strain. And then there’s the choppy waters to navigate when you propose some time apart. “Oh, what, you’re sick of me now? In the previous item of this listicle you were sabotaging my love life to spend more time together!”
10. The Instagram fight
Like the tree that falls in the woods and nobody hears it, if you’re backpacking and don't post the pics on Instagram, are you even really backpacking? Come on, the ‘gram is serious business, and that means your travel companion is so much more than just your travel companion—they’re also your stylist, photographer, editor, social media coordinator, publicist, life coach and go-to confidant. And frankly you deserve to be held accountable if you’re derelict in your duties.
11. The ‘we can walk’ fight
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Twenty blocks? We can walk. Three miles from the bar back to the hostel? We can walk. Vancouver to Whistler to save on the bus fare? We’ve all got that one friend who would swear we can walk. On the plus side, you tend to walk faster when you’re angry?
12. The planning fight
Some travellers schedule their days with military precision, while others treat the clock like an amber traffic light. And if the second type needs some wiggle room, the first type needs to schedule that in the itinerary to avoid the inevitable confrontation. They can probably find a 4-minute opening somewhere to google the word compromise.
13. The mistake fight “I thought you…”
Nothing stirs quite as much rage in the uber-organizer as hearing these three words slip out of the coattail-riding sidekick’s mouth the moment something goes wrong. “I thought you had figured this out?” “I thought you made the booking?” “I thought you knew where we were going?” You can hear the teeth grinding in hostel common rooms everywhere.