Rarely does anyone discuss travel budgets PRIOR to a trip to a far away place. I am so very fortunate to have the inimitable Mr. Mike as the best travel buddy in the universe. We have been all over the world, with rarely a hiccup. He knows how to travel (we both traveled extensively on business during our working days), and does not skimp on anything. Furthermore, we are not joined at the hip, stay in separate rooms, do not fly or sit together on planes, and pursue our own interests once at our destination.
But I realize this is a rare occurrence, and most people who know us find this arrangement hard to fathom. We get asked often if people can join us on our trips. And to my great delight, he says I am the only one he will travel with!!!
My very first trip to Europe ended up a disaster for many reasons. I chose a fraternity brother who enjoyed good food and wine, music, and history and museums. It turns out that I preferred other activities, like socializing with the locals, hanging out at bars and clubs, and “free-lancing” around the countryside. Even if my Father had not passed away about a month into this trip, we would have parted ways as we reached the Mediterranean.
While budget was not the issue, perhaps the activities we selected were not in total accord. He preferred getting dressed up in a suit and going to a fancy dinner, then a classical music concert in a big concert hall. I was okay with perhaps one such evening in each city, but every night? NO!!!! We soon parted ways at dinner time, and often did not see each other until the following morning.
Perhaps the biggest discord for travel came when we went to Costa Rica was an old buddy, who also happened to be a multi-millionaire, on a Kia budget. Everything was a big deal, to the point where I had to draw a line. Skimping on food or activities were not my idea of a great vacation, particularly when I was still working. I refused to sit at a dinner table and divide up a bill down to the penny!! Or to argue about who was planning to do what!
The shame of it all was we discussed this in advance. He said he was a diabetic and did not eat much. We decided to eat separately, though perhaps at the same time. Well, reality turned out much different. He wanted to join in, and started his “split bill” routine. I found it embarrassing when this guy whipped out his calculator during dessert We even ended up sneaking out to meals without letting him now. That is really sad.
Travel priorities are a big deal, since some prefer being a tourist, and others prefer learning the people and culture. There is a happy medium. Some activities are best done in pairs, some are great alone. And yet others are cost prohibitive. But once in a while, you just have to say, “we are never coming this way again, let’s just do it!” So, activities like ziplining across the cloudforest, or playing a top ten golf course become “must dos” in my eyes.
Now this is a touchy subject, sharing airline miles or hotel points. Always discuss this in advance. Mike and I often use his “elevated travel status” when we get last minute flights or hotels. And we always share our airport lounge privileges. But this needs to be discussed in advance for most travel companions. It is a perk that cost someone some money, and reciprocating is always necessary.
Free activities are always a good place to start in a new place. Dirty Pat and I did a free walking tour in Bucharest last May. How else would we have met Katy, the world traveler and professional translator, whose address is always her most current home stay or hostel? And walking or public transport is always a great option to a taxi or Uber.
But always remember that it is okay to SEPARATE!! Meals, clubs, tours, lounging, spa, gym workouts, all can be done on your own. For me, it is always a great opportunity to explore on my own, and even meet someone interesting. Such as the case in Santiago, when I met Berry the V in the now defunct “internet room” at our hotel. Mike was out being Mike, and I was writing emails to you folks back home. It led to dinner with Barry and a invite to his fabulous home in Cape Town! We ended up staying TWO weeks!
Free time is also a godsend, particularly for relaxers and loungers. I will usually schedule a massage mid way through the trip, after a medium workout in the hotel gym. I also like sitting in a nice quiet area, read, and just take odd photos here and there, as the mood strikes. Or better yet, take a nap, since I generally do not sleep well on the road.
Meal time always presents a problem, but the general rule, only two meals a day on the road, applies to us. Coffee in the morning is a must. Then a mid morning breakfast or early lunch, followed by a nice dinner, complete with cocktail hour and wine most always. Most importantly, we never worry about who pays! If we are within a few hundred dollars at trip’s end, that is fine.
Few consider what traveling together might do to their long term relationship. It ruined my college frat brother’s friendship, but I put the blame on myself for choosing the wrong travel mate. The millionaire guy begged to go with me, and again, it was my fault for including him. Some others have worked out well (thank you, Susan, Christine, brother Bob), some not (too few to mention).