by TONIA ZEMEK
So you’ve booked an overseas holiday, just the two of you. You’ve carefully planned the itinerary. The hotels have been expertly researched. The matching luggage has been purchased. But are you really compatible travellers? Assume the brace position and go through this checklist before you take off:
1. Window Or Aisle
Early on you need to establish in which camp you belong. You’re about to sit in dozens of shuttle buses, cabs, planes, trains, boats and gondolas. Don’t be wonderers. Nothing annoys your fellow commuters more than a queue jam because you two can’t decide who sits where. Really it’s quite simple. The person with the smallest bladder takes the aisle. So ends the carry-on.
2. Finders Are Keepers
The loser is the official misplacer of passports, tickets, sunscreen, room keys, and Euros. One of you Traveling Wilburys will be a loser. The other, ideally, will be a finder. Consider this an official travel warning: two losers should not travel together. Anywhere. Ever.
3. In Sickness and In Health
You’ll need to pack precautions if you know the yin to your yang suffers from sea sickness, car sickness or plane sickness. Stock up on magnetic bracelets, potions and pills. Buy inflatable stabilizers if you have to. Do anything you can to limit the commotion when in motion.
4. Eat it or beat it
No, we’re not talking Weird Al Yankovic or Michael Jackson. Dining duos will be duly tested when in Rome. While you may be seeking traditional gelato, linguine and limoncello, your beloved might well be in search of the golden arches. Did someone say McHappy meal for one?
5. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Do the math. If you travel with a reader, it’s going to be a long, long trip.
The reader must absorb all signage from San Fran to San Sebastian. It’s imperative to take in every word of every museum flyer, map, tombstone, rhinestone and teabag. If your partner is a reader and you are not, you are doomed to a life of waiting. While you enjoy an entire museum in a half hour, your precious reader is still getting through the entrance. After all, those ancient hieroglyphics on the submission stubs are completely compelling.
6. Sherpa or Shirker
Do you take this person to be your sherpa? To carry your backpack and roll your carry-on? To shove your jacket in overhead lockers and haul your duty free all the way from terminal 4 to the hotel? If you’re writing your own vows, make sure you’re on the same page. Never agree to any pre-holiday pre-nup involving “you bring it, you buy it, you lug it”.
7. The Wait Debate
Airline: “We regret to inform you flight QF51 has been delayed.” You: “What a wonderful opportunity to grab a coffee and chat about where we’re headed.” Your travel partner: “Check your boarding pass, I think our first stopover is Singapore.” You: “No. I mean where we’re heading together as a couple, in life’s great journey.” Your Partner: “Well I’m headed to duty free and then I’m going to buy the paper and read it while listening to life’s great iPod.” Consider this flight cancelled. Follow the row of red lights to your nearest exit.
8. Lingo Bingo
Phrase Book Buddies travel happily together. You may have observed them standing side by side, flipping through matching mini dictionaries and practising pronunciations. You’ve definitely heard them ordering tapas while the poor Spanish waiter humours them. Ole! Take a leaf from their book. One in all in. It’s no fun anchoring your Aussie accent while your travel partner’s set sail for parlez-vous Francais. Comprende?
9. Shuffle or Shuttle
The Proclaimers said they’d walk 500 miles. Did your travel partner make the same admission? Lock in your sightseeing MO so you know if you’ll be pounding the pavement or pulling up a pew in the air-conditioned mini bus. Your pre-band-aided ankle and your pre-cushioned butt will thank you.
10. Snappy versus Happy
Ask your companion if they intend to explore a country or just photograph it. It is possible to have too many selfies in Amalfi. Unless you’re working for National Geographic, it’s probably not necessary to return with 500 happy snaps. It’s unlikely they’ll all be happy.
Tonia Zemek has worked as a tv producer on everything from MasterChef to Big Brother. She’s gradually making the move from broadcast to print. Follow her journey on twitter here.
What kind of traveller are you? Have you ever ruined a relationship or friendship by travelling with someone?