I’ve travelled by myself and with friends and there are benefits to both. But one of the most compelling reasons that a solo trek can be better than a crowded one is that often, travelling with friends can be relatively taxing. Scaling the back-catalogues of my trips, I’ve narrowed down a few problem travellers I’ve been burdened with. If any of my friends happen to stumble upon this article and notice themselves echoed in these rants, well… do better.

The Fussy Eater

Travelling with someone whose list of dietary requirements runs longer than Charlie Sheen’s rap sheet can get old, quickly. Wandering the world should be a culture shock that defibrillates the senses. Rather, I’ve been stuck with the “Anyone for McDonalds?” anti-adventurous eaters that dehydrate the entire fun like some sort of pampered sponge. The picky eater makes the choice of restaurant rather narrow and makes meal time an ordeal where there’s every chance they’re going to say they can’t find anything on the menu. And then of course you’ll snap and have to scream, isn’t that right, Clare?! JUST EAT THE GLUTEN, CLARE!

The phone addict

I’m not a huge fan of phones in general. I recognise their relevance and they’re useful for a lot of things, especially when travelling. But people’s addiction to them drives me bananas. When else are we free from the tyranny of our electronic masters than when we’re on holiday? From not feeling the constant buzz in your pocket, to not worrying about what the rest of the world is doing, a digital detox is cathartic and meditative. Unfortunately, not everyone shares my reckless phone abandon when travelling. A lot of people believe that if there’s not a public record of the trip, then it must not have happened. People can do whatever they like when they travel. But it’s easy to get mildly irritated with someone who, rather than absorbing the beauty of the countryside, spends twenty minutes desperately trying to find the perfect filter and emoticon combo.

The party animal

You know you’re in for trouble when you travel with someone whose cultural enjoyment is tethered to the cost of a country’s beer. “Asia is the most magical place on Earth – beers are less than a dollar!” These low cards spend the holiday flittering between holes-in-the-wall, usually down graffiti lined alleyways, or searching out nightclubs that promise good times and shots for the cost of a packet of noodles. And, more often than not, you’re peer pressured into coming along for the ride. They then spend the next day comatose on the hostel floor, curtains closed, begging for Red Bull.

The liability

Travel isn’t inherently dangerous. Staying home is dangerous. I once tripped over my cat and went headfirst into a hot iron like a scene out of Home Alone. But when you’re in a foreign land, where you might not speak the language or understand a culture as well as your own, it’s easy to get taken advantage of, order something rough off the menu or end up on a seven-hour bus ride. A lot of time that’s the fun of it, but when travelling with a liability, it’s not the misadventures that worry you, it’s the naivety that causes problems. It’s the friends that eat the clearly raw piece of chicken from a street vendor, in an attempt to eat as the locals do or the ones that agree that you’ll all pay through the roof to a club promoter to get into the best club in town – to find out that in fact, it doesn’t exist.

The bundle of nerves

On the other side of the liability, sits the bundled up ball of nerves that fills every waking moment with a sense of foreboding and dread. A stinking microwave of revolving human anxiety, the bundle of nerves worries about any ‘shifty’ looking person or freaks out when a feral cat brushes past his/her ankle in an outdoor café. I mean, come on, chill out – constantly asking ludicrous “What if” questions helps no one. “What if the snake is poisonous”, “What if that cliff dive is dangerous”, “What if volunteering to walk over hot coals, isn’t a great idea?” Pfft, worry warts.

The experienced traveller

There’s nothing wrong with being well-travelled. There is, however, something fundamentally frustrating about travelling with someone who has already seen it, done it, eaten it, drank it, jumped it, sailed it, thrown it, slept it and swam with it and feels like they need to tell anyone who will listen how that time they did it was so much better than this time. When you meet people in hostels and your friend pipes up and asks them – rhetorically as it turns out – where they’ve been travelling, they’ll interrupt immediately and begin telling them about the suffering they witnessed in Cambodia, the village they visited in the deepest jungles of Peru and the closure of a local candle shop they protested against in Ukraine. Then they’ll say, “That’s travelling”, before stealing cereal from the hostel cupboard and wandering off to talk to that girl you like about an acoustic guitar he carved in Myanmar, leaving you to deal with your new gobsmacked hostel bunk mates.

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The scrooge

This is the person who insists on haggling for a few cents over a Thai massage, or demands to speak to the manager because their street-side cockroaches weren’t cooked through. In parts of the world, where people do live in cents a day, their penny-pinching can reek of bad form and leave a sour taste in your mouth. They also tend to be the ones doing Beautiful Mind style sums by candlelight to work out whether you screwed them outta four dollars for the nine-night stay in the 12-bed dormitory room.

What do you think? Is travelling with friends the makings of an epic holiday? Or a total nightmare? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Martin FlemingI’m an Australian writer who left his country after the cost of beer hit double figures. I’ve spent the last six months travelling the world and was most recently tricked into hiking the Inca Trail in Reeboks. I blame Tinder glitches for my loneliness. I like sharks.

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