Yes! You’re finally on your way. Weeks, if not months of preparation have gone into planning your trip. You’re ready. No, no, you were BORN ready! This is it.

Skip forwards a few days… and now you’re miserable. Turns out that friend of yours (whether they’re your best friend, your partner, or another solo traveller you bumped into on the road) is trouble, and they’re ruining your trip. You need to find a solution for your situation, asap.

Here are three of the worst travel buddies, and some tips to help tackle those tricky situations on the road and deal with problematic travel mates.


The “I wanna go home”

The beach you’re relaxing on in Thailand is beautiful, warm and idyllic – true paradise. Yet your travel buddy is bummed over how the sand is “just not as clean as [insert home beach here]”, the food is “not as good as [insert restaurant from home town here]”, the people are “so much less friendly than in [insert local neighbourhood here]”. It’s annoying, and it’s a bummer on your experiences in a foreign land.

How to deal with it:

Most of the times, the complainers are homesick and just need to vent their feelings. Fair enough, it happens to the best of us. Lend them your ear and cross your fingers that they’ll get it out of their system. If that doesn’t work, and the complaints keep on coming, remind them where they are and why they came with you. “You’re in Thailand, baby! We don’t get to watch monkeys play on the beach at home, do we?”. Extol the virtues of experiencing a new place, and remind them of a positive experience they’ve had recently that they’d never have back home. Help them adjust their mind-set, and hopefully they’ll lighten up soon.

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The Tight-Arse (excuse me)

These travelers are a real pain. They make you walk half an hour out of the way just to save a couple of bucks on a bus ride. Or you wait an eternity while they haggle with a street vendor over a few cents, only to boast all day about what a great bargain they scored. It is very frustrating behaviour, especially if it’s on display in a third-world country – truly, what’s the problem? You both saved up for this, right? And those couple of dollars mean more to the local they’ve just scammed than it does to them.

How to deal with it:

If you’re constantly waiting for this type of traveler, here’s a solution: don’t wait. Agree on a meeting point, walk off while they haggle, and explore on your own. Take the bus they’re walking to avoid, and wait for them to arrive soaked, tired and hungry. Once they catch on, they’ll start spending up, because no tight-arse wants to be left behind.

people on the bus

The “No, surely they didn’t?”

You could’ve sworn your travel companion wasn’t this racist, homophobic or alcoholic back home. Their gaffes, while overlooked at home hanging out with mutual mates, are glaringly obvious now that it’s just the two of you meeting new people around the world. It’s embarrassing, and sadly, hard to change now that you’re on the road.

How to deal with it:

Give it a go. Try sitting this person down for a heart-to-heart on the bunk-beds in your backpacker dorm. Let them know how their racist comments are affecting you, or how their alcohol rant nearly got you both beaten up. If they’re a mate, they’ll get guilted out after an introspective moment, and you can both move on from there. If you just want to make it through the next few days or weeks, try pointing out how the conservative nature of the people, whose country you’re travelling, doesn’t match this person’s world-view. Remind them how the whole point of travelling is to experience these different ways of thinking and seeing the world around you, and maybe they could give it a go?

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There are, obviously, several other, equally-as-frustrating travelers you could encounter on your way (the person who’s got to stick to the schedule no matter what; the snob who turns their nose up at every hotel or suggested activity; the “I don’t care”, lazy good-for-nothing who’s leeching off you and doing minimal work). Here are some tips on how to avoid ending up with them in the first place:

- Ask yourself, and be honest: did you really enjoy that weekend away you had with your partner before this big trip? If you’ve ever said to yourself “OMG, I just CAN’T be around this person”, then travelling with them to another country just isn’t going to work.

– You have to want the same thing out of your upcoming adventure as your potential travel buddy – or at least have a similar goal. Do you both want to do all of the things, hike all of the trails, and try all of the food? Or does this person only want to lounge around five-star resorts and kick back 24/7? If your ideals aren’t aligned already, they won’t magically do so once you’re out and about.

– Your budgets should be similar. Are you happy to rough it in a hostel, but your friend won’t consider anything below a 4-stars? Does your pal want to fly to every destination, whereas you can only realistically afford to travel by road? Or vice-versa? Be honest with each other, and set your expectations on the same level before you even book your trip.

bangkok thailand von katja hentschel

If you have any tips for dealing with painful travel buddies, or got any success or horror stories you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments!

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This is a guest post by Murielle Baker. Check out her new blog.
Photos by Murielle Baker & Katja Hentschel.