One of the more common questions I get when describing my travels is, "how did you not end up murdering each other?" Undoubtedly, when you are travelling alone with one other person, and even though she could be your Best-Friend-Forever-For-Life-For-Eternity-For-Whatever-Abstract-Noun-That-Signifies-Time... To spend so much time in close quarters, when you're tired and stressed, or hungry and moody, it would fray on just about anybody's nerves. While Bianca and I have been best friends for more than a decade, majority of our relationship has been over long-distance. She left Malaysia right after Year 11, and while we constantly maintained contact and saw each other every holiday, there were a few key developmental stages we missed out on. And the first real length of time we got to spend with each other, was our 2.5 month U.S. adventure. 1) You have to have the same spending habits
First things first, Bi and I share a lot of values. We're both frugal and calculative (in the sense that we do our best to get the best deals).One of the key things about a travel companion, is that you have to want to spend on the same things. Imagine if Bi wanted to spend $1,000 on a fancy dinner at the top of the Empire State Building (not possible, but an example), she would have had to go alone because I ain't spending that sort of cash, and vice versa. They say money is not the most important thing in the world, but when it comes to such an expensive expenditure such as travelling, it is probably the most important.She's willing to drag bags through 1hr of public transportation to save some $$$, and that's a blessing to me.
(Click on the photo above to check out our Korea video!) 2) TRUST is key
Obviously, you can't travel with someone whom you don't trust. Especially if you are a teeny Asian girl. I look out for her, and she looks out for me. I could hand her my wallet and know she wouldn't take anything from it. We could arrange a time to meet and know for sure she will be there. If someone tried anything funny with me, she will have my back, cursing and screaming at them to back off. And she could trust me to do the exact same.
3) Know your strengths and play by them
This took some time to figure out - but after a while we realised whom is better at doing what:Bianca is - the decision maker, the fighter, the researcher, the alarm clockI am - the GPS, the photographer, the excel-expert, the finance calculatorAnd what I mean by that: 4) Know each other's weaknesses and accept them
When Bi gives directions, she will tell you to turn just as you hit the turning, where as I am the kind to plan two steps ahead, this has led to a couple of almost-misses, but we're chill now and she just lets me handle it.
I get lost in doing things, forgetting time and our schedule - whereas Bianca is consistently on the ball with getting done the things we want and need to do - efficient
Bi is also a single child - and therefore much more decisive, I am the youngest of three children, meaning I lived life almost never being the one to call the shots and am super flexible, so most of the time I let her make the decisions because it takes me years to actually make one.
Bianca gets what I call THANGRY - when she is tired or hungry, she becomes the Grouch. This became very evident to me over several weeks because she can be an angel during the middle of the day but an unpredictable storm other times. So normally, we just don't talk to each other if I sense she's a little off, until we've eaten or slept. I have a similar problem, but with coffee where I become an emotionless robot, so she makes sure I get my daily dose.
You have to find a system that works with one another, otherwise you might end up biting each other's heads off.
In terms of itinerary:
As per any relationship, honesty is the best policy. If you want to do something, plan it; if you want to eat something, suggest it; if you want to buy something, say it. When we get to a place we often tell each other: "Okay I want to see A, B, and C, and that's it, don't mind anything else" and you both work through it together given the time constraints. Compromise on the things you care less about, but stand strong on the things you do care about. I can't expect Bi to read my mind to know I want to go eat lobster mac and cheese, I have to tell her I NEED TO DO IT. And we shall. Rather then her insisting we go somewhere else and then I brooding about it. In terms of frayed nerves:
Talk about your problems immediately, or as soon as you can. This is a tough one, but will improve your experience so much. In the end your travelling companion and you, are two different people, so you are bound to have disagreements. Settle and talk about these like adults and don't carry baggage around with you. It was one night at Flagstaff, AZ, in some random Vegan restaurant that Bi and I had a true breakthrough in our relationship, because I opened up to her about all the hurts I've been harbouring for all these years (literally, years) and we talked through them. And voila! Literally could not be stronger.