Ramblings · Travel Tips

Backpacking the World – On Picking Travel Friends

“So… did y’all fight?”

Without a doubt, the most asked question I’ve recieved about my summer backpacking trip has regarded my ability to keep my cool with my travel partna, Alex. Note: Why do people LOVE hearing drama?! I mean, out of seven million questions people could ask… whatever. I don’t know if my friends all insinuate I’m some kind of agressive bulldog who can’t be tamed… but I’ve chosen to interpret that what they’re really saying is that my friends are strong women. I’m okay with that, I’d rather be surrounded by strong female leads in my bio pic than a bunch of wussies.

We were happy because we had both showered and gotten to eat food this day... a real luxury.
We were happy because we had both showered and gotten to eat real meals this day… a real luxury.

To answer the question for everyone, YES, WE DID FIGHT. Verbally, of course. But only twice. You want to know why we fought? Of course you do. Everyone always wants all the juicy details. The specific details are irrelevant at this point, but I’ll give you a sampling of what was going on in our travel bubble…

  • There were nights we got little to no sleep because we were having to do things like sleep in Starbucks to save $100 on accommodation… do you know how far that $100 saved in London took us in Thailand?! Really far, that’s how! Worth the no sleep!
  • We’re both introverts, which basically means that we both gain mental energy by having time to ourselves. Which was really hard, considering we were repeatedly sharing hostel rooms with 10 strangers. This, of course, causes introverts to occasionally freak the heck out inside.
  • We both love food, and sometimes we would go all day without eating real food (looking at you, picnic day in Paris…) because we were too busy running around making sure we were seeing all the sights. If you’re a foodie and you’ve ever been hangry, then YOU KNOW THE STRUGGLE.
  • We’re girls. Therefore we had to deal with eachother PMSing, which was absolutely wonderful when you’re trying to sightsee and all you want to do is crawl into bed and die.
  • I’m annoying. I don’t know how Alex survived those moments where I grew unnecessarily cranky due to lack of food, sleep, and shelter. I’m no saint, even I have my moments.
Carefree in Thailand (and simultaneously making sure the Snapchat stays fresh2death).
Carefree in Thailand (and Alex simultaneously making sure the Snapchat stays fresh2death).

I say all this to say, really understand the intensity that comes with backpacking with a friend for an extended amount of time. You may be thinking, “Oh, but this girl is my roommate and we spend all our time together, this will go perfectly!” but really think about it: have you spent every waking moment with this human for ALMOST TWO MONTHS!? Here are some ways to survive backpacking with your new Siamese twin…

  • Understand immediately that this person is your new ride or die. Any disaster that may happen, and every good moment from this moment forward until you touch your home soil again will be shared with this human you’ve just made your co-pilot. So make sure this person is able to handle both the good and bad.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes, I was too tired to brush my teeth and accidentally went two days without brushing. Alex eats more ketchup with one meal than I have consumed in my entire existence. People are different and that’s okay. You’ll be much better off if you don’t focus too hard on your travel buddy’s odd habits.
  • Communicate. I know, this is obvious. But seriously, if you’re feeling sick, voice it. If your co-pilot is walking too fast down the streets of Madrid, voice it. If you feel annoyed by your travel buddy, voice it. Nothing is worse than bottling things in when you’re traveling with someone. The word vomit is going to come out sooner or later, and at that point who knows who will end up on the 5 o’clock news for murder.
  • You’re not REALLY conjoined. There were days where we wanted to do different things and so we went exploring without the other. Alex went on the London Eye and I skipped it because I had already seen it my last go around in London. I got up at the butt crack of dawn for a Paris walking tour, and Alex slept in because she actually values treating her body well and to a good night’s rest. You don’t have to do everything together- especially if you’re limited on time and have different interests, do your own thing sometimes, it’ll be okay!
  • Know your limits. If you hate going out, don’t agree to do a bar crawl in Prague. Heights aren’t your thing? It’s okay, you can skip climbing to the highest level of the Eiffel Tower. It’s great to try new things, but if you already know for 100% certain that doing something will just make you cranky, just skip it. And if you ignore this bullet point and go anyway, no complaining!
  • Appreciate your co-pilot. I planned the trip, and Alex told me more than once that she appreciated me doing so. I kind of lost my cool for a moment in Scotland (there was a point where I thought I’d have to skip out on part of our trip and go back to Dublin…), and Alex was able to rationally bring me back to Earth, which I was really grateful for at the end of the day. Appreciate the good that your right hand man is doing. Remember, this is quite the experience for them too!
  • Have a sense of humor. Alex and I were able to laugh about our terrible moments and that made everything so much better. Eventually, we had a running mental list of, “Remember that time…?” and it made us grateful we had survived the bad and had focused on the good. I mean, remembering the time Alex lost €20 as soon as she had withdrew it in Berlin really was almost as funny as the time I temporarily misplaced my passport holder which contained every important Irish document to my name. You’ll have good times and bad times, what are you going to REALLY focus on?
Upset in Berlin she just lost 20 Euro. Note the Polish pride shirt...
Upset in Berlin she just lost 20 Euro. Note the Polish pride shirt…

In the end, Alex and I were able to survive all this time with each other because we have in common 1) a love of faith and family, 2) a love of exploration, and 3) our ability to be goofy. It really isn’t the end of the world if you get into it with your co-pilot. Say sorry and get over it. GET OVER IT AND EXPLORE. That’s what you’re really on the other side of the world to do! We had so much fun on the trip, and we didn’t let little moments get us down. Remember how lucky you are to be on the other side of the world with great friends and great sights and great foods and THRIVE!

At the end of the trip, all that matters is that you made the most of it! Yay, you survived the world!
At the end of the trip, all that matters is that YAY, you survived the world!




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