This can be tricky. How can you tell if a friend is going to be a good road trip buddy? It’s much harder than you think. We trekkers feel that there are varying types of friends, but for the purpose of this post, we’ll only discuss two categories: short-term & long-term. Last year Jade & I took our friend (we’ll call her Penelope) with us to Utah, thinking it would be an awesome trip. Boy, were we wrong!!!
We should have sensed something was amiss when our school teacher friend bitched and complained at the border, 9am on a Saturday, about the 2 hour wait. She somehow thought Utah was about 2 hours south of Seattle, NOT 24 hours south east of Vancouver, Canada. (We even sent tons of emails confirming information, to which she admitted she never read.) Over-sight number one.
Around Pocatello, Idaho, I was ready to say screw it and go home. Penelope didn’t want to drive, barely chipping in for gas. We had left Vancouver with everyone in the car agreeing that we would drive straight through to Utah, with 3 people driving. Piece of cake. Nope… that didn’t happen, we ended up having to get a $200 hotel room for the night in Twin Falls, ID. A nasty extra expenditure we hadn’t accounted for. We woke up the next morning, continuing to Utah, individually pissy and myself desperately wanting to turn around and go home. We finally got to Moab, Utah several hours later than Jade & I had originally scheduled. We were ready to relax, set up camp and give it another shot at our favorite camp site, around 7 miles from Moab in Hal Canyon along the Colorado river.
We thought it would be a relaxing trip of lounging around and just being with nature, as it has every other time. This was simply not the case. Every morning we were woken up by Penelope with a stream of very annoying questions, such as, “What are the plans today? What are we doing? What do you have planned? Take me here, take me there.” I was not having it. If only she had actually read the well-laid out itinerary in the multitude of emails we sent back and forth… le sigh. I was on vacation and was going to relax. Penelope knew she could take the car at any time and go into the city. We told her this adnauseum.
We managed to get into Arches National Park to hike two days before things went horribly wrong. During a long, hot hike (primitive hike around Landscape Arch) we managed to make an instant friend and invited this individual back to our camp site. He was in the midst of an epic travel adventure of his own and seemed to just fit right it. After the second day of hiking in Arches with our new friend, we started heading back to camp when Penelope asked to be dropped off at the library to read in a/c. “Sure, not a problem.” Everybody agreed to meet up in a few hours. Since Jade & I have been to Moab before, we decided to take our new travel buddy on a walking tour of the city and perhaps some food. We’re on vacation, right? He’s been living off of canned tuna and we’re in Moab, UT… New Mexico adjacent… surrounded by my favourite food, Mexican! So we wandered in and out of the kitschy shops dotted along Main St. Then we took a leisurely stroll along a creek and had some of the most fantastic conversations with our new friend. Finally, it was deciding upon where to sit down and nosh on some Mexican fare. We picked a nice restaurant with a typical Mexican motif. We enjoyed both our meals and the chit chat. Once our meals were done, we looked at the time. Oops… it’s time to meet up at the library. Hope this goes well.
Upon picking Penelope up we were accosted for having lunch without her. Didn’t she choose to hang out in a library on vacation instead of exploring the city? Wasn’t it her idea to surf the web in a library rather than experience all that Moab has to offer?? The 7 mile drive back to the camp site was filled with equal parts of the silent treatment and verbal beration. Why did I feel like I was in elementary school again? Oh yeah…
Finally, I had enough of it. After centering myself, I came out of my tent and in a calm assertive voice, said I was done, I was not having a good time, I’m stressed out like crazy and we (Jade & I) will be going home tomorrow morning. Well… Penelope LOST it. She flipped her lid. She argued, screamed and packed up her gear (in under ten minutes). She rambled on… saying we were leaving her there, abandoning her, and that was the plan all along and then she left. She just left. We have not seen or spoken with her since then.
Penelope used to be a neighbor and good friend of ours. We used to take our dogs hiking and swimming all the time together. We had dinner parties, and Jade played on the same baseball team with her. We thought she’d be a great person to road trip with. Wrong wrong wrong. (We’d fail that report card epically.)
So… how can you tell if someone is going to be a good travel buddy?? Here is what Jade & I ask our friends before we invite them along.
Are you ok being in a car for an agreed amount of hours on end without stopping?
Do you / can you / will you drive?
Can you navigate a map & GPS?
How about camping??
Are you against sleeping in a vehicle if we cannot find a place to stop?
Eat out of a cooler?
Pay % of gas and hotels?
What are your expectations on a road trip?
What is it YOU want to do during the road trip?
We ask these to EVERYONE now… even family.
This past April we had Jade’s cousin, Stephen, come with us on a road trip down to California, up to Vegas and over to Moab, Utah. Both he and the trip were AMAZING!!! Yes, it’s possibly because he is family, but even he wasn’t off the hook with the questions. And of course, there was bickering, pissy-ness, and such. You ARE on a road trip with other human beings… stuck in a car 24/7. It happens.
Think about it, you’re with other people in a car 24/7 for 10+ days. YOU HAVE TO GET ALONG!!!
Really spend time talking with friends you want to potentially road trip with. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t take a short-term friend (excellent for spending a weekend with) on a long-term trip (someone you truly enjoy spending endless hours with). Road trips can make a relationship stronger and more awesome, or it can destroy it altogether.