A guide to managing different travel styles

Managing Different Travel Styles

There’s no denying the fact that we absolutely love traveling together. So much so that we’ve built an entire blog dedicated to the fact that we love traveling together! However, we do not spend all of our days while traveling laughing and smiling and agreeing on absolutely everything – we fight, we get annoyed with each other, and we definitely disagree (like, all the time). When this happens, instead of staying mad at each other the entire trip, we work through it. And, over time, we have developed solutions for the more recurring issues – those that stem from the fact that we have different travel styles.

This does not just apply to the two of us traveling with each other, but rather anybody traveling with anybody else.

From family and friends to significant others to coworkers – we are often put in situations (voluntarily, even) when we travel with someone different to us. We love this – in fact, Kelly encourages it in an article she wrote for Girls vs. Globe. But we also acknowledge that traveling with someone different is not always smooth sailing.

A guide to managing different travel styles
9 different people stuck in a van together for 13 hours can be dangerous..so we had some camera fun!

Each individual’s travel style is molded from a mix of the following elements (and more):

  • Personal ideas of what travel means and consists of
  • Personal likes and dislikes, interests, priorities, values
  • Personality type
  • Daily routines
  • Previous experience traveling & frequency of travel

Our Travel Styles

The two of us live together. We’re married. So many aspects of our life are intertwined. But we still have different travel styles! Here are a few examples which have previously gotten in the way of a happy go-go, ‘OMG life is perfect’ holiday:

  • Sean likes to get to the airport well in advance of his flight – just in case something happens. Kelly is used to four years of JetBlue flights from Boston Logan to Washington Dulles that she has settled into the idea of getting to the airport at the last minute.
  • Kelly likes to wander…slowly. She will allow enough time to get to a destination while stopping to check out shops and take photos along the way. Sean could have three hours to get to a destination only 30 minutes away and will still walk fast. He can’t help it. Kelly is always about 10 meters behind.
  • Sean prefers informative museums – history, military, etc. Kelly prefers art museums. As a result, Kelly moves quickly through museums, looking at things and gaining a general understanding. Sean, on the other hand, likes to read every detail. Kelly probably could have made it through the American Wars exhibit at the American History Museum in DC 4 times before Sean made it through once; instead, Sean had to be pulled out early.
  • Kelly is a true blogger – she always has A Pair of Passports on her mind. She will be looking for the perfect camera angle, dragging Sean to places she wants to write about, and forcing Sean to take tons of pictures. Sean is a goofball. He will often make a funny face and ruin our shot at the perfect picture.
A guide to managing different travel styles
Sean is usually the goofy one, but sometimes Kelly has her moments too!

Managing Different Travel Styles

The examples above are only a few of the situations in which our travel styles differ. We spent a year and a half traveling together every chance we had before getting married. That’s proof that we’ve worked through the travel difference enough to still want to travel as a couple, still love each other, and still want to spend our lives together. Here’s how we did it:

Determine the things that everybody wants to do

A guide to managing different travel styles
In the Dominican Republic, we made sure to set aside a whole day for horseback riding because it was something the two of us were immediately interested in.

This is the easiest way to ensure you can spend as many happy moments together as possible. What do you all want to do? This applies to any group of people – from couples, to family groups of 8! Find the common interests, build them into your itinerary, and then work the rest around that. If you are only traveling for a short period of time, and you all want to go to the same 6 tourist attractions, that could end up filling up your whole weekend. Then, you don’t even have to face the opportunity for disagreements! Set out the common ground first, and the rest will likely fall into place.

Agree to do something normal somewhere new

Chances are you are traveling with someone you have an existing relationship with, be that a friendship, romantic involvement, or family ties. Chances are that you also have some sort of activity that you love doing with this person. It could be meeting up for a glass of wine, going to an art museum and discussing the work after, or getting absolutely smashed at a sporting event. Take that activity, find it’s equivalent in your travel destination, and do it! This not only gives you and your travel buddy something to do together, but also may put you both at ease. You’ll get back to a sense of normalcy with each other that you can sometimes lose while traveling, which will put you on a positive track to finish out the trip strong.

A guide to managing different travel styles
Our date night in Paris included a table overlooking the Picasso museum – what a view!

We try to have a “date night” in every city we go to. We find a restaurant, order a bottle of wine, and sit for hours chatting as if we were in London. This allows us to relax for an evening, live like we are locals, and try out a local restaurant.

Find a tour that has a bit for everyone

We were browsing excursions available at one of the hotels in Costa Rica that we are considering for our honeymoon, and they have some that squeeze so many activities into one day! There was horseback riding and zip lining, visiting a city and hiking, and even ATVing and white water rafting. This made us realize that tours come in all shapes and sizes – and some of them even consist of crazy combinations! Find a tour that either covers multiple interests, or one interest that you have in common.

A guide to managing different travel styles
We love our wine tasting tours. This is our guide from our Florence tour, setting up a delicious spread.

For us, wine tasting is an obvious one. If we spend a whole day wine tasting together, neither one of us will be upset that we had to sacrifice a different excursion that the other one didn’t want to do.

Go solo!

If you are traveling for an extended period of time and have a list of activities you have been waiting to do, go do them! Your travel buddy could use the time away from you to do something on their own, too. This gives you the opportunity to spend some (healthy) time away from each other, which is essential for a long trip. The best part is you can catch up at the end of the day and swap stories.

Remember, your best memories will come from who you are with, not what you are doing!

A guide to managing different travel styles
Havin’ a ball, not looking the least bit attractive in the process!

Learn to adapt to each other! Wouldn’t you rather spend your trip with your travel companion and have memories to laugh about for years than spend it alone? Doing something you wouldn’t typically want to do, with somebody you love, is completely different from just doing something you wouldn’t typically want to do. Give your travel buddy a chance – they might be really excited about a particular activity and you should find out why. It’s likely they will then do something for you in return.

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

So what if you spend an extra hour of your life waiting at the airport? With your trip on your mind, it’s not like you were going to do something valuable in that time anyway! And who cares if your friend double checks a map before you go anywhere, even though you know the directions? It gives them peace of mind and also serves as a double check to ensure you are getting where you are going. There are little annoyances that we face everyday in our lives. It’s not worth getting upset over them and risking an entire trip. Learn to accept them, and if they are really getting on your nerves, be honest. If it’s something really tiny, it’s likely your travel buddy doesn’t even realize they’re doing it – or that it could possibly be bothering you!

When in doubt, safety wins

It’s hard to think about safety when you are enjoying your time at a nightclub in Ibiza and your friend says they want to go home. But, it’s also very important to think about safety. If a decision is on the table about whether or not to go explore a questionable neighborhood, whether it’s worth taking a taxi home late at night, and whether or not you two should split up and go home separately so one person can stay out later, let safety decide. An extra couple of hours dancing isn’t going to make up for the worry of getting home and realizing your friend isn’t there. The friend who left also isn’t going to get a wink of sleep until you are home safely. You came into this trip together, so make sure you leave that way, too!

Now go find your travel buddy!

A guide to managing different travel styles
Friends can be the best travel buddies!

Traveling with someone else is a great experience. They can comfort you when you are homesick, laugh with you, and even take your photo! Above all, though, creating travel memories with someone you care about is an experience that cannot be topped. From Kelly’s girls trip to Barcelona and Sean’s boys trip to Barbados to our numerous family trips and our trips with each other, we have incredibly fond memories of our travels. Some of those memories come from things we saw or did, but most of them come from the people that we were with. Those funny moments, group photos, and incredible conversations are what matter at the end of a trip. So go out, find a travel buddy, and get traveling – just remember to use our tips above to stay sane!

For more guidance on how to survive traveling with someone, check out 10 things not to do when traveling as a couple – most of the tips apply to traveling with friends or family, as well!


p.s. We did not touch on budget (and the burden one can sometimes bring) on this post because that opens up a whole different can of worms. We promise to put out something about that soon, though! In the meantime, Adoration4Adventure has some great budgeting tips to tie you over!

Do you have any tips for traveling with someone with a different travel style?

Please share them in the comments below!

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 Traveling with another person isn't always easy. Learn to manage different travel styles to have a better experience next time you aren't seeing eye to eye with your travel partner. Guide by A Pair of Passports

42 thoughts on “Managing Different Travel Styles

  1. Jessica C says:

    Yes!! I’ve thought about these things as well. Though I absolutely adore my husband, we have different travel styles as well. The biggest thing we try to keep in mind, is what we both want to do, then go from there! Love that you wrote this down for others to learn from as well 🙂

    • apairofpassports says:

      Thank you 🙂 I think if you have your mind set on something your partner does not want to do, it seems like the end of the world…until you realize how much you both want to do and how little time you actually have!

  2. Samantha | There She Goes Again says:

    These tips are great! I so agree with Go Solo! With my travel buddies, we all agree it’s okay if we want to do something different one day and go off in separate directions! I like going back to the hotel/hostel to rest in the afternoons and then go back out, while my friend was go-go-go the whole day. We had no problem splitting and sharing stories later.

    • apairofpassports says:

      I’m not huge on going exploring solo (except in cities that I’ve previously visited and am comfortable with) but I’m a huge fan of taking a break and going back to the hotel to nap or chill for a bit. Or even just split up in a museum for some alone time to wander and see specific exhibits…and just be alone for a bit!

  3. Leah says:

    Traveling with a companion, no matter who it is, can be SO challenging! I’ve had my fair share of ill-suited travel partners for sure. It’s great that you guys have learned how to compromise and found solutions for satisfying your very different travel styles!

    • apairofpassports says:

      We’ve figured it out, but I still do struggle with some friends, even with the above tips. It’s crazy how well you can get on with someone as a friend – and then when you’re in close quarters and with them for an extended period of time you realize how different you really are!

  4. Deni says:

    This is all too relatable! I tend to travel mostly with my partner now, but there have been a couple of times where I’ve traveled with friends and have had to learn how to adapt to their travel styles, whilst trying to enjoy the trip myself! Glad to see I’m not alone in the travel style woes!! Was there a particular trip for you that was trickier to plan because of your different travel styles?

    • apairofpassports says:

      We tend to argue the most when skiing. Sean is a much more advanced skier than I am and we have plenty of arguments about when to go in, what trails to do, etc. And that’s where we really learned to go solo – he hates me going off skiing on my own, but I feel much more comfortable that nobody is waiting for me and I can go as slow or as fast as I like. And he can go do harder trails. So we both end up happy in the end!

  5. Ellie Cleary says:

    Great post – thanks for writing this! In particular I love your idea of identifying the things everyone wants to do first…. that would definitely have helped me in the past 😉 but know I know that one! Happy travels, Ellie

  6. Heather says:

    One of our biggest “travelling together” issues stems from Colin being an early bird, and me being a night owl. I haven’t come up with a great solution yet. Mostly, I stay up late planning the next day’s details and he gets up early to capture incredible photos that I miss out on.

    Are you guys on a similar sleep schedule? Or do you struggle with this one, too?

  7. Courtney Jones says:

    SO relatable! I’m always 10 metres behind my husband and can often be found climbing up things/laying on the ground/rearranging food etc to get the ‘right’ photo for my blog/Instagram!

  8. travel4lifeblog says:

    Cool post here 🙂 Patrick and I must be the lucky ones as we are pretty much on the same page with regards to travels 🙂 However, we could relate t0 your awesome list as we recently travelled with friends who had a different travelling style to ours 🙂 You nailed it! Great work:)
    Patrick and Cecile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com

  9. Amy (Two Drifters) says:

    Lovely article Kelly! Nathan and I are introvert meets extrovert, so we have different temperaments for sure. But we both love to read and chill at coffee shops. That’s something we definitely do in every place we go. 🙂 PS: Looking forward to meeting y’all this week! xx

    • apairofpassports says:

      Thanks Amy! We both love reading but really need to make more time for it – we get too distracted by cleaning or Netflix when at home and by everything else when traveling. Can’t wait to see you guys 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    I agree so much that who you travel with can really affect your experience! I get easily stressed when I travel if I’m not making the most of my time, so I need to be with someone who can calm me down – which often means they have that opposite style of travel! PS- love the pizza photo 😛

  11. Cris says:

    Ugh, sucks when your SO doesn’t have the same travel style. Broke up a long term relationship because of that.
    I am fortunate my SO has the exact same style as I do and we really hit it off on the road as well. It’s soooooo easy to travel together.
    However, when we travel with friends, it’s hell. Only a handful of our friends have the same travel style as we do so if we end up with those who don’t…well, it’s not nice. I usually tell them to do whatever the heck they please and we do the same …and never ever go with them again :))

    • apairofpassports says:

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we don’t have the exact same travel style – we learned to manage the negative parts, and a lot of it actually works to our advantage. For example I can do the planning and he doesn’t get annoyed that he hasn’t provided much input. Different travel styles aren’t necessarily bad so long as you are aware of them and know how to deal with them!

      • Cris says:

        It really depends. With my ex, it was so different that i wanted to travel and he didn’t. And when he did, it was to local destinations, while I always craved abroad.

        With my husband, we do complete each other but we are both budget travelers. I do the planning, he does the technical stuff and makes sure everything we need for the blog comes with us 🙂

        Travel style for us means to actually want to do the same things (i.e affordable vs very expensive, same mix of affordable and expensive) and visit the same type of countries (neither of us likes cold places lol)

        I am glad it works for you

  12. Anita says:

    I always try to find a travel-mate. If not of my friends want to go I search on the forums or websites for hitch-hikers. For me it is better to have a company, have someone to share my thoughts and emotions while I travel.

  13. stephanie Langlet says:

    Travelling with someone else is what made me try solo trips lol. More seriously, my first solo trip far from France was in Indonesia. And it was by accident. I enjoyed it so much that I have decided it would be my travel style. I love to meet the local people more than everything. I’m able to spend hours talking with unknown people, exchanging on our respective cultures. My solo trips also gave me the opportunity to travel with a lot of local people, always being invited everywhere and have a lot of incredible experiences.
    But when I’m in France, I can’t go around without my lovely companion presently on his back with his four legs up. I fear my westie dog needs some attention now, but he’s a perfect travel companion.

  14. Annika says:

    This is a really interesting post. I have a friend who I traveled with last year for a month and we are also the stellar opposites when it comes to the question of when to arrive at the airport. We had a few arguments and then a regular conversation to realize that we actually both get anxiety – her if she has to sit around and wait and me if I am being rushed.
    Another factor to consider (though not so much when you are married I guess) is budget. That is a huge one I think and can cause lots of friction you should address before heading off.

    • apairofpassports says:

      Budget is a huge one, even as a married couple. Though we both technically have the same budget, we have to compromise on where to prioritise spending that budget. Fortunately, we both love AirBnb, so we can find cheap accommodation that is still very nice, and put our money toward going for a nice local meal or doing a tour.

    • stephanie Langlet says:

      Yes… I would like to take him with me in India but they accept dog’s entrance for a minimum 2 years stay 🙁 It’s hard for me to think I’ll have to be without him for several months each year.

  15. Arnav @ Eat, Travel, Live and REPEAT says:

    Something worth pondering upon.Often it happens when your partner doesn’t share the same enthusiasm in a certain thing and vice versa and you find yourself in a fix.However, if mutual activities are outnumbered than the solo ones, then one will take back happy memories as it’s the company that matters the most.It can either make your trip or brake your trip.If one is optimistic during travelling , then the memories will be plenty.

    • apairofpassports says:

      I think if you make time to go after the things you mutually like, then it’ll build a foundation to go with your travel partner to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do, too. Or you can go and do those things separately while still creating memories together doing the mutual things.

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