Now this is going to be debatable and something that is definitely up for a discussion. Preferably one that can be had on a moon-lit night, on a terrace where a night-jasmine creeper has climbed ambitiously and eavesdrops on you as you debate this with friends – with whom you vow never to travel with. Not because you do not love, cherish or adore them. No, it is none of these. You vow never to travel together because you value them and their friendship.
Why then, won’t you travel together? This thought comes to my mind because of the several accounts and conversations I have had recently. A friend and her family, recently travelled with another family – they are good friends and I do not want to use the past tense here. I believe they would still remain good friends.
However they are back from the trip, and my friend tells me that, it seems that travelling or rather vacationing together has brought up bubbles of discord. All of us have our peculiar habits. Some of us like to wake early, just when the sun is rising from its slumber while some like to lay in bed till almost the sun is over their heads.
Some of us like to go from one place to another while on a holiday whereas some others would rather take it easy. Some like to loosen their purse strings and have each breakfast, lunch and dinner outside, and in contrast there will be a percentage of us who may feel like taking up a self-catering cottage and cook at least some meals at home and have others on the go.
The thing is, travelling or vacationing together is like a marriage. You have to give up on some things, and your spouse will give up some, there can hardly be ever a perfect 50-50 in that give and take, and both of you have to adjust. Yes, that great Indian word that is said to solve every problem in a marriage – ‘adjustment’ – also applies to vacationing together.
If we are ready for that adjustment, then perhaps vacationing together is a good idea.
A friend once told me that she came back more tired than relaxed from a vacation that she and her husband and her two children took with their friends – a total of five or six families together. They had all rented camper vans which were parked at a beautiful location and each family had a van to themselves. However, what tired her out was the cooking. The group decided that everyone would take turns cooking, and so two families would cook for six families as per their turn. It turned out to be too much cooking, with special meals for the children and all.
I would have rather we just ate out, to be honest, she confided in me. Who wants to go on a holiday and cook three meals a day?
Reasonable, but if you are the only one or in a minority who feels that way, and the other families rather cook than eat out, you are the one who will be doing most of the adjusting.
I have had a few personal experiences too. There were sparks between my friend and I, and not of the romantic kind. I do not blame anyone, or rather, it was just a difficult situation for all of us and that included me, my husband and my friend. We were different people, suited perhaps to spending evenings together but not an entire vacation. And even though I have some wonderful memories of all three of us going on lovely walks and exploring the countryside, I also regret the fact that there were some really awkward moments, some tight situations. Our friendship waned a bit after that trip, and even then, we did not learn our lessons! We attempted another trip together! I empathise with my friend and can now see a lot of things from her point of view, and maybe in hindsight she might empathise with me, but you cannot undo what happened. It wasn’t something major but still…
And that is why, sometimes, it is okay to say – we are not going to travel together. Not because I do not value or cherish you, but rather the opposite. I really hold what we have together as precious and I do not want to ruin it by travelling together!
Having said that I have travelled a lot with friends and had some really good times, but perhaps these happened when I was younger and much more ‘flexible’ in my ways? But I did have a trip with a girlfriend in the not so recent past, and I wasn’t that young and we managed to have a good time in spite of our different personalities. Did it work because we both loved libraries and as soon as we had hopped off from the plane, and freshened up in our hotel room, made a dash for one?
I really can’t say. When you travel together, you discover parts of each other that may have hitherto remained hidden. Like when a friend and I took a trip by ourselves, she discovered that I had a sort of phobia of public restrooms and would not drink a lot of water or coffee when out during the day. I would use the bathroom before we left our hotel room and avoid using any during the day, even though we were in Sweden and most of the public washrooms were decent. Once we were back to our hotel room, I would make a mad dash to use the loo – I know it sounds quite impossible and insane to hold on to, you know what, but that’s what I would do.
What I think happens when you travel as a group, or say with another family, is the careful and sometimes exhausting planning that needs to take place in order to get everyone out on time and on schedule. Or to match schedules and preferences. But it is not just that. Sometimes we grate on each other and not in a good way. We may all want to do different things with our time, money and the place at hand.
Having said that, I realise that even the husband and I want to do different things on a holiday! I remember on our honeymoon carrying just kitten heels and wedges as footwear because we were put up in a resort. There’s a photograph of me, my kitten heels held in my hennaed hands and walking barefoot in a meadow. That’s because we took on many walking trails, and it was only on our honeymoon that I realised that my husband loves to walk, hike and cannot sit still for a moment. I on the other hand, is oft to find a space, a nook and want to sit there for hours, gazing at whatever is in front of me – a pond, the reservoir of a dam, the sea, a valley, a pillar of a palace, a carved stone in a mosque…Sometimes I can sit for an hour and just stare at the clouds.
But we are married to each other, and we have both, or are trying to, adjust to each other’s whims and fancies. But friendships and marriages are different and a friendship might falter, if friends cannot seem to agree on what to do on their vacation together?
What do you think? I would really love to know your thoughts on this topic. Don’t worry if you do not agree or agree in parts or just vehemently disagree with me – I would absolutely welcome all views.