On one uncommonly sunny and warm day in Portland, my friend and I, driving back from a day on the river with freshly sun-kissed skin, were talking about some of our favorite trips we took that year, both together and with others. We realized the most enjoyable trips were the ones we experienced with friends who knew themselves well enough to voice their preferences and were able to adapt to the unexpected.
This sparked the topic of self-awareness when traveling with others and how a fun trip can take a turn for the worst when someone in the group is unaware of how their words or actions affect those they are traveling with.
A fun trip can take a turn for the worst when someone in the group is unaware of how their words or actions affect those they are traveling with.
In my experience when traveling with family and friends, whether it is a quick day trip, a week’s long road trip or flying to a different country, it is crucial to know the type of traveler you are and what type of traveler others you are traveling with are. This can determine how the trip pans out and is remembered.
I have witnessed people, including myself, attempt to warp into types of travelers they are not—whether they are intricate planners trying to be easy-going or someone who has a go with flow mindset trying to make set plans. Neither scenario ends well, and there is often a tipping point where fiery words are said, awkward silences sit for longer than anyone wants them to and passive aggressive comments are muttered under one’s breath. These situations take away from the amazement and joy of visiting beautiful places for the first time.
It took me a few years and dozens of trips to learn what type of traveler I am and the types of people I prefer to travel with. There are two characteristics that I believe create the most fun experiences when traveling with any group of people. The first is having the courage to learn about the type of traveler you are (and those you are traveling with are) and owning it. The second is having the willingness to adapt because plans rarely play out exactly as intended.
Traveling with friends who made itineraries for trips but who were also open to spontaneity, sparked excitement and anticipation. Traveling with friends who simply show up and go with the plan, yet are willing to participate in decision-making, helped the day move forward at a relaxed pace.
A large part of self-awareness when traveling is accepting who you are and who others are—both as travelers and as human beings who move through life differently. A substantial aspect of life is adapting to the unexpected and traveling is no different.
A substantial aspect of life is adapting to the unexpected and traveling is no different.
Through self-awareness and adaptability, there is little to distract from the feeling of awe when seeing the beauty of the Pacific Coast for the first time, experiencing the taste of an authentic churro in Madrid or admiring mountains that look painted on the sky in Glacier National Park. There are many experiences to have, foods to taste and cultures to learn about. Self-awareness and adaptability only enhance the wonder in traveling.