You think you know your friends and family well? Try traveling with them to learn more than you ever needed to know (I really should have them complete the travel roommate questions). Who would have guessed my country mouse friend was a cruise ship liquor smuggler? I found out when I said “I didn’t know you wore contacts” seeing the large bottle of saline solution. She replied “I don’t, that’s Vodka!” She then proceeded to pull out bottles of various sizes from her luggage each filled with a new liquor. I, at least, went to Whole Foods to carry on my bottled water in an effort to save money on the cruise. And then she showed me a very small bottle. “Do I dare ask what’s in the tiny bottle?” she started laughing “these are the poo drops for the bathroom” (oh boy!) This was my first foray into sharing my cabin (later a hotel room where she would steal rolls of toilet paper from the housekeeping cart to hoard them in the room –long story) with a friend I’ve never traveled with.
So now that I’m planning my trip with my Mom, I’m contemplating separate rooms which means the trip will be much more expensive. Why would I do this? To preserve my sanity and get some sleep. While I snore a bit, it’s not enough to keep others awake at night or change rooms. In Mom’s case, she refuses to accept that she probably has sleep apnea. My then three year old niece warned me when I shared a room with Mom in Disney World (and didn’t sleep for three days) – “Aunt Sue, Mom-mom snores, I wouldn’t stay with her”.
So I have a list of crazy things I’ve learned about my friends (and family) over the years traveling (don’t worry they probably have a list of things I do too) and generally do a very covert checklist before agreeing to travel with them. Here’s ten travel roommate questions that are at the top of the list for me –
- Do You Snore to the point that I want to commit Travel Snoricide? Or need my own room?
- Do You Eat Breakfast? (Most prefer to sleep in, so I often go to breakfast alone)
- What time do you want to get up? (I’m always up first and get the shower)
- Do You Want to See it All? Or only a checklist?
- Is a Hotel just a place to rest your head? Or should it to be an experience in itself?
- Are you a TV watcher? (I rarely put the tv on when traveling, others need it on to shower, sleep, etc.).
- Do you have a budget? What does that include? Fast food takeaway? Sit down restaurants? Tours? Taxis? Buses? We need to realistically agree on costs to avoid disappointment
- Do you have any food issues? Not only intolerances like me but are you a picky eater who searches out the familiar American brands like Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, etc. ? (Warning: You will eat alone as I will go elsewhere)
- What is your feeling on germs? How OCD are you? (Warning: I never touch the tv remote and bring my own flip flops so I don’t walk on the hotel carpet in bare feet – I’m always amazed by friends who don’t care)
- Will you make a decision on what you like or don’t like? Or have you abdicated all decisions to me?
- (Bonus) Will you share your dessert? (this is a trick question as you know if you’ve been reading for awhile)
So just a few questions that I feel we should get out of the way before agreeing to travel together. As for me? Here is my list of quirks you should know about:
- I will be on time or fifteen minutes early
- I will have a Plan B, C, D…… in case of travel disruptions (see: nightmare travel day)
- I will get up early, go to bed late and squeeze every minute I can from my travel day
- I will schedule a day off (spa day) where I sleep in and have no agenda other than to relax, recharge and indulge
- I’m OCD about the hotel room germs on the TV remote and floor. I will also need to read the hotel guide book (if in room) and check out the fire escape route on the back of the door (just let me do this and all will be fine)
- I will try to save money where I can but my time (and sanity) is worth more so while I have traveled the hour on the Piccadilly line from Heathrow to the city of London with my Oyster card, I’d much rather the 15 minute Heathrow Express ride and 30 minute cab ride (often a lovely conversation with the cabbie) above ground. Its costs much more but I often feel better without the stess of twenty+ stops (without air conditioning) on the train with my bag(s).
- I prefer to walk everywhere – I can walk for hours and enjoy it. You need to tell me when you need a break (and I have no sympathy if you only brought the “cute shoes”)
- My bag is full of snacks and water so I won’t go hungry or thirsty during the above walk, on the plane or during our trip so if you need to eat let me know ahead of time
- I reserve the right to leave you at some point (I’ve been a solo traveler for too long) – it’s usually breakfast while you are sleeping in or when you want to stay and watch TV, I may wander because I need to find a bakery or other fun shop nearby.
- I will choose experiences over budget – who knows when I’ll be back here again, if I have a change to experiences something new – food, wine, tour, etc., I’ll spend the money over and above budget if necessary because I don’t want to have a “shoulda, coulda, woulda” moment
- (Bonus) There will be A LOT of photos taken because I’m looking to see the world in different lights, angles, lens and cultures. There will be no selfies because my arms aren’t long enough to erase the wrinkles.
So do you have a checklist that a prospective travel partner needs to complete? Do you come with your own instructions/warnings? Did I miss anything above? Share your thoughts below about crazy things you learned about your friends/family while traveling or let me know what I missed above.