Finally, the time has come to go travelling with your best mate! Cue major excitement and an absolute inability to talk about anything else until take off.
A month later and who knew your best friend(s) could be so damn annoying?
You’re left wanting to burn off that matching tattoo you got on the first night, and you thank the inventor of headphones for his/her time on earth for giving you the only way to get a bit of peace.
Only 48 weeks left to go…
1. Toiletry theft
There’s always that one friend (usually you) who’s come prepared with the shampoo, toothpaste and sun cream supplies. Then there’s always that one friend who hasn’t.
Perhaps they planned to pick some up on arrival but guess what, it’s never happened, and now you’re stuck lending items out every day and the deodorant is dwindling. And worst of all, you have to carry it all. Why can’t they just buy their own?
2. Budget alignment
Money is always an awkward one among friends and if you’ve not got similar budgets, it’s bound to get in the way.
If your friend is the one who’s on a shoestring then their huffs, puffs and sighs each time it’s their turn to cough up will get you down. And if your friend is the one who managed to save way more, then why do they feel the need to show off the money when they know you don’t have as much?
3. Weird habits
We’re all special snowflakes and unique in our own way, right? Some call them ‘quirks’, others call them ‘foibles’, but when you’ve been travelling with someone for a few months you just call them ‘damn annoying’.
Often, even if you’ve been friends for years, you won’t have seen some of your friend’s more unique ‘habits’ because you won’t have been in such close quarters before. Most of these may not bother you, but that weird clucking they make in their sleep, the tea they just have to have at 8am or the need to go to the toilet three times a night could set your stressy senses a-tingling.
4. Relationship struggles
Whether you and your mate have them or not, relationships can be a real source of problems on a trip. Lovers back home and the inevitable quest for Wi-Fi wherever you are can really start to grate. And if you’re the one with the partner, having to accompany your pal while they have a back alley smooch will soon annoy.
If you’re both in relationships there can also be the unspoken competition on who hears from their boo the most, and if you’re both single then there’s the fight for the gap year fitties. Whatever the scenario, there’s no winning.
5. The stories
One of the best things about going travelling is that you can reinvent yourself and be that cool confident person you’ve always wanted to be. The downside to bringing along the bestie who’s known you since nursery means they know the real you. They’ve got the embarassing stories and all the dirt, and they can bring it up at any time.
So playing it cool with a new guy, dancing with some hostel pals or tubing with a group always comes with the danger of having your friend recant a cringeworthy tale. At least you’ve got the fuel to do it right back to them.
6. The planning levels
Your friend may be an over-planner, an under-planner or just not a planner at all. It may be that your opposite states balance each other out. A shared level of planning skills may mean there’s a power struggle, or a lack of planning on both sides means you just never leave your first location.
Not being on the same page and sharing the division of research and hostel booking can lead to grievances. You need to talk this through – work out your strengths and play to them.
7. The indecision
Because you love each other, it’s normal to want to be accommodating and make sure you’re both doing what you want. But there’s such a thing as being too accommodating. When your friend’s constant answer to a question is ‘whatever you want to do’ the pressure of being the decision maker can be too much to take.
By the way, if you really want to annoy me, this is the route to take. Have an opinion, dammit!
8. Their presence
If you’re on the road, there’s a good chance that’s because you wanted to leave something behind or, in any case, find something new. While there are many perks to bringing a friend on your journey, it means you can never quite leave home behind. They’re a constant reminder of your other friends, family and the dreaded commitments that await you back home. It’s not their fault, but even their presence can be annoying, as it jeopardises your search for real escapism.
9. The diet
No two people eat the same, but if you and your friends are all relatively easy-going when it comes to food then it won’t be an issue. However, if there’s a fusspot, a dieter or even an over-eater, the differences in diet may be too much to take.
The back and forth on restaurant choice along with the need to find certain foods can eat into your precious travel time and leave you a little fraught. Gluten freers, vegans, and nut allergens are always a barrel of laughs when it comes to choosing a restaurant in Asia.
I guarantee, love, food, or money – that’s what you’ll fall out about with your friend when you’re on your gap year. Everything else is manageable. The way round it is to relax, let them take the higher ground now and then and just know how to choose your battles. Communicate, don’t fly off the handle, remember they’re your best friend and in a few hours/weeks/years, you’ll look back at any disagreements and laugh. Trust me.