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1. When they’re too needy
Does your travel partner need to spend every waking moment with you? Do they freak out if you want some alone time? Do they hover over your shoulder as you write in your journal?
I traveled with a girl named Janice through Europe. Despite the fact she was 26, she couldn’t manage simple life tasks on her own. One night I felt like reading, so I went outside to the patio with my book. Not more than 15 minutes later Janice came storming out, angrily shouting at me that I had left her alone and went outside without telling her.
If you have drastically different ideas of what it means to spend time together on a trip, it may be time to bail.
2. When the compromise is hurting your experience
When traveling with someone else, you’re going to make some sacrifices. It’s inevitable there will be differences in opinion at times on where to eat, what to do, where to stay, and what bars to party at, which is fine as long as you’re both compromising and you’re still getting what you wanted out of your trip.
But if you find yourself constantly giving up what you wanted to do to please your partner, you’re going to miss out on the possibilities that made you excited to leave home in the first place. Travel is selfish — in a good way. It allows you to choose when, where, and how to experience your trip. Never compromise so much it makes the journey a chore instead of an adventure.
3. When they’re crushing your budget
When traveling through Argentina, I was backpacking on a budget for four months when I met up with a friend. She was only traveling for three weeks with me and had a lot more money to spend. While I wanted to stay in hostels, she opted for bed and breakfasts. I purchased food from the grocery store while she went for sit-down restaurants each night.
In the end, we decided to just do our own thing and would occasionally meet up for beers if we happened to be in the same city at the same time. It was a much better setup.
4. When they won’t budge on the planning process
In South America, I was traveling with a girl who needed every single moment planned out days in advance. I didn’t mind pre-planning some activities; however, pre-booking tours meant we were spending more and that there was no leeway in terms of changing the itinerary. It was stifling.
Finally, one day when she was reciting to me all the tours we had to book in San Pedro de Atacama, I turned to her and simply said, “I think I’m going to Salta instead.” She didn’t ask questions, and I didn’t need to explain myself. There was a mutual understanding that the partnership wasn’t going to work out, and we both went our separate ways.
5. When they’re putting you in dangerous situations
If your travel partner is constantly risking your safety — getting in cars with strangers, drinking so much they can’t stand up on their own, telling people your personal information — it’s time to walk away.
6. When their reactions to stress make you uncomfortable
A girl and I were getting ready to take a train from Berlin to Munich. She was running very late, and told me she would meet me at the train station since I still had to buy a ticket; however, when it was time to get on the train she was nowhere to be found. I figured since we both knew which hostel we were staying in and how to get there she could manage on her own, so I boarded the train without her.
After walking up and down the rows of the train without seeing her, I figured she had missed it and would board the next one an hour later; however, when I arrived in Munich and went to a local coffeeshop with WiFi, I found she’d sent a disturbing email filled with four letter words. Apparently, she thought I had “ditched her and left her to fend for herself.”
With the joys of travel come the stresses of travel — missed buses, cancelled flights, taxi drivers who rip you off, stolen money, food-borne illnesses. It’s important your travel companion can handle these types of stresses rationally, without freaking out and making you uncomfortable. If your partner’s reaction to a stressful situation is to throw things, scream, and curse at you, bail.
7. When the arguing is more than you can handle
One girl I traveled with in Bolivia had an obsession with unpacking her suitcase and refolding every item at 2am each night. It was pretty frustrating, especially since I liked to go to bed around midnight and felt she could repack her things before then. When I asked her if she could perform her ritual at an earlier hour, she rolled her eyes and told me it was annoying that I woke up early and I should try harder to sleep in. This became a constant battle.
Being on the road together 24/7 means you’ll be getting to know each other’s annoying habits — which also means some arguing. A little bickering here and there isn’t a big deal; however, when it gets to be more than you can handle, it’s time to part ways.
8. When it’s ruining the friendship
Despite the fact you and your travel partner may be the best of friends at home, traveling together is a whole different animal. It’s like living together. You’re with the person almost every moment of every day, getting to know their most annoying habits and seeing both their best and worst sides. Moreover, because you’re traveling together you’re expected to fall into sync with each other’s schedules, which can be hard to do if you live very differently.
In essence, traveling together can be the quickest way to learn what you have in common with your friend, as well as what you don’t. If you feel like the experience is leading you to resent each other, save your friendship and part.
9. When they won’t take responsibility
A benefit of traveling with a partner is being able to divvy up the responsibilities — who navigates, who books the train tickets, who confirms the reservations, who sets the alarm. If you find yourself being responsible for every task, try talking to your partner about how you would like them to help out more. If they’re unwilling or unresponsive, ditch your partner.
10. When you decide you’d be better off traveling solo
As you can tell from the above anecdotes, there have been numerous times when I’ve had to ditch a travel partner. In fact, separating from so many travel companions is what helped me realize how much I enjoy my own company, and how rewarding traveling solo can be.
After all, it’s your trip.