TALE OF TWO CITIES
YOU may think you know a person, but until you have travelled with them, you probably don’t know them as well as you think.
Having travelled with many different people, including hosting and entertaining visitors to Bangkok in the past nine months I have lived here, I have seen a variety of quirks and foibles I never knew existed in them — and some of them I have known for more than 20 years!
What is it about travelling that seems to bring out the worst in people?
In my attempt to figure this out, I put up a Facebook post requesting thoughts on the matter.
I received quite a number of responses. Almost everyone (including you, I’m sure) has a story or two to tell about how the person they were travelling with suddenly turned into Mr Hyde.
In the most extreme cases, the trip completely destroyed the friendship.
With the results of my mini survey, I have decided to take a break from talking about Bangkok just for this week, and have come up with five types of particularly challenging travellers, and how to deal with them.
The Camp Commandant: This is the type of traveller who has every detail of their trip planned down to the last minute. They would have printed detailed daily itineraries and distributed them to each member of the group, and everyone would be expected to follow them. While their reasons for turning your vacation into a boot-camp are valid — “I just wanted to maximise our trip!” — they also tend to be unyielding towards any change in their plans.
How to deal with them: If there is something else you would like to do, that is not on the itinerary, explain it to them — it’s your vacation too! Suggest that they go ahead with their plans, and that you would meet them later, when you can tell each other about your day’s adventures.
The Dawdler: This traveller is the bane of The Camp Commandant’s trip-life. The Dawdler probably went on this vacation to escape a hectic schedule back home and has no interest whatsoever in following a strict itinerary while on holiday. All Dawdlers want to do is to take their time to wake up, visit local attractions like coffee outlets, bazaars, spend the day lounging at the beach, etc.
How to deal with them: To be fair, Dawdlers should warn the rest of the group beforehand of their intentions — that is, to dawdle — so that they do not spoil everyone else’s plans. However, if you happen to be a Camp Commandant unwittingly travelling with a Dawdler, the best thing would be to come to a compromise, such as, carry on with your own plans and meet later.
The Sulker a.k.a The One Who Left His/Her Heart At Home: I have had the misfortune of going on a couple of trips with Sulkers. They are fine, nice people outside the trip. But for some reason, travelling turns them into broody, unenthusiastic kill-joys. The Sulkers I travelled with were not only uninterested in the places we visited (unlike Dawdlers, Sulkers seem to NOT want to be on the trip), they kept wanting to go back to the hotel where there is wifi to contact their boyfriends/family members back home.
How to deal with them: If you end up travelling with a Sulker, leave them behind. No, I’m just kidding. There’s actually nothing you can do but to just endure and try to make the best of your holiday. And tell yourself never to travel with them again — if not for anything else, then to save your friendship.
The Scrooge: In my opinion, The Scrooge is the worst of the lot. Scrooges see no shame in allowing others to pay for them and will never offer to pay for anything. In the rare instance that they do pay, they will immediately whip out their trusty calculators to divide everything fair and square right down to the last cent. A friend, responding to my query on Facebook, shared about how she once went on a trip with someone who, upon checking in at their hotel, only paid for her half of the room — leaving my friend with a rude shock when the hotel manager approached her for the other half of the payment. Sadly, the trip caused irreconcilable damage to their friendship, and the two no longer speak to each other.
How to deal with them: The earlier you detect a Scrooge, the better. Once you do, suggest you pool money for things you both have to spend on like accommodation or meals, and don’t be afraid to voice out if you feel that they are spending too much out of the cash pool.
The Squirrel: I call this one The Squirrel because of their tendency to dart from place to place or from activity to activity — and they are always changing their minds! Trying to keep up with them is exhausting and expensive. The Squirrel is like The Camp Commandant in wanting to do everything in a short span of time — but without a plan. As a result, The Squirrel often annoys everyone else by forcing them to go along with their impulsive decisions.
How to deal with them: Tranquilisers! Kidding again. If you detect a Squirrel in your company, make them sit down and come up with a plan together — even if you would rather not have to follow an itinerary. It is the only way to rein in The Squirrel, a.k.a The Traveller On Steroids.
A friend commented that travelling with a friend is like being “married to the person for a short time” and the important thing is to be able to compromise, to give and take, or else the “marriage” will fail.
In my opinion, just like in any marriage, chemistry also plays an important factor. There are some people you can travel with, and some you can’t. And that is all right. Better to miss out on a vacation, than to lose a friendship.
Of course, I could not have written this without first taking a good look at myself in the mirror. In case you were wondering, I’m The Dawdler.
So, what sort of traveller are you?