Dramas of the road

A popular way of travelling the cheap way is finding some buddies to hit the roads. Everywhere you find websites dedicated to finding rides and in many hostels you’ll find ads for ride shares. From the big cities you often have a choice and thus you can choose, relatively, wisely. But what if you’re in a location where there isn’t much choice?

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I’d been in Broome, Australia, for almost a week and was dying to get out. I had seen enough of the beach but it seemed like my fellow backpacker bums where all going in the opposite direction. Finally an ad appeared on Australia’s Gumtree and I replied within minutes. A positive answer: let’s meet. So the next day I meet another international traveller. The girl had her own campervan and wanted to leave asap.

The next day I happily started my adventure all the way down to Perth. Slowly though I started to find out that not all campers are happy campers. The only agreement made up front was to share petrol and food costs by making a joint wallet. With both of us on a budget I wasn’t surprised when on day one I was asked to make a contribution for the food that was still left in the van. Problem one however was that we couldn’t agree on the price of it. Or rather, my travel companion didn’t say a price. I was to pay the first few groceries and after a few days I was given the ok.

Another week had passed and it became clear that our personalities couldn’t be more different. I am excited to get going, active in setting up and packing our camp. I love to make plans and read about what options we’ve got and what we can do. As in normal life I like to have a plan for the day and know in which area I’ll be sleeping that night. My buddy was of the opposite; relaxing in the morning, taking the time for a smoke, sitting in the sun instead of going for a hike. While driving she was happily checking her facebook and catching up with friends. She also didn’t want to discuss plans and I always felt like an annoyance asking where we were going that they or what she wished to do.

I started feeling like a kid who did everything wrong. Also, evil was building up inside me. I felt like there was a bomb of annoyance in my belly which could burst at any time. I was nowhere near my enthusiastic, fun self. I was constantly on edge. Luckily we drove the same route as another couple whom I got along with really well. Travelling with four gave us both a bit of freedom and relief.

Just over a week into our journey I was ambushed. At the cash register I was told I had to pay for the supermarket bill. I exploded and surely didn’t pay a thing. We took a girl into the van for a few days in a national park but from the start this added frustration to my buddy. When we said goodbye to her, my buddy started asking her for money as well. In my opinion you make these agreements upfront and you don’t confront someone with it when everything is already done.

We had reached our limit. We couldn’t be more agitated and frustrated with each other. We talked and both admitted not to be happy. We were just too different. Added to that I didn’t agree with the girls methods. I told here to drop me off at a hostel the next day. I couldn’t enjoy this anymore and the decision came as an instant relief. I could breath again. After all this shit about money the hypocrite had no intentions of paying me for the things I left her with; food, half a tank of petrol. I didn’t ask. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get to my hostel and continue my trip pleasantly.

Lessons learned:

– Listen to your gut feeling
– Spend time looking for a good match, especially if you travel together for weeks on end
– Make some money agreements that are clear for both parties
– Make sure your travel buddy is into the same things; national parks, hiking, swimming, relaxing on the beach etc.
– See that you have the same expectations. If one person is on a budget and the other would like to go out for dinner and party hard, it isn’t a match made in heaven.

The most important lesson, in which I got a lot of practise, was enjoying your surroundings. I didn’t get along with my travel companion, but I was in some gorgeous places. Sometimes you just have to stop, breath and take in the beauty. Eventually, that is what we both came for, in pleasant company or not.

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