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Travel partner red flags

Are you rude to airport workers? Do you go barefoot on planes? It might be a dealbreaker

THE WASHINGTON POST – Travel has the power to change us, to shake us to the core and reshape the way we see the world. It can also reshape the way we see our travel companions – not always for the better.

Like the time Key PR founder Martha Shaughnessy was on a trip to Argentina with friends in 2009. After a long travel day, the group of eight arrived at the rental counter exhausted only to find the company was out of vans. Some of the friends exploded, yelling and waving copies of the rental agreement. “It became almost competitive escalation between these guys,” Shaughnessy said.

The display did not help her group get a vehicle, but it did change the way Shaughnessy thought about those friends.

“It made me want to crawl out of my skin when I saw that,” she said.

Travelling somewhere new is often full of curveballs. There will inevitably be kinks to sort out with your companions, whether you’ve known them your whole life or you’re still getting friendly.

“You might love and trust somebody and enjoy their company, but if you’ve not travelled with them, you might be really surprised at some of the personality differences that you didn’t notice,” said licenced clinical psychologist and the host of the podcast Baggage Check Andrea Bonior. “Part of it is that travel can be stressful in different ways in everyday life, and I think people respond to that very differently.”

There are people with whom you should probably not travel – for your sake and theirs. These are the signs you might be with the wrong travel partner, according to travellers we surveyed.

THEY GO BAREFOOT ON PLANES

No. No, no, no, no, no. And yet, people do it all the time. Even in the lavatory. We will not be travelling with those people.

THEY’RE WEIRD ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT

It’s one thing to have your own food preferences, it’s another to force it on other people. On a recent trip to Barcelona, Sandra Weinacht, who co-owns the tour company Inside Europe Travel Experiences, found herself eating a plate of sardines under the table because her picky eater companion didn’t like the looks of them. Pass.

THEY STAND UP AS SOON AS THE PLANE LANDS

We live in a society, and there are rules to getting off in an efficient order. If they move into the aisle too early, it’s over.

THEY’RE TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH

A jam-packed itinerary is a house of cards. One late taxi arrival can bring the whole shebang crashing to the ground. More importantly, they’re ruining the vibe. As travel writer Jake Emen said, “Trying to force too much in there, you take away all the fun unknowns and random occurrences and diversions and interesting interactions that are the real magic of travel.”

THEY LISTEN TO THEIR PHONE WITHOUT HEADPHONES

Former flight attendant Shawn Kathleen, who created the popular Instagram account @passengershaming, has “noticed a lot of people referring to ‘their rights’” on planes lately, she said.

Like “I have the right to listen to my video with no headphones.” Plot twist, it’s not your right to listen to videos, music or phone calls out loud. It’s grounds for divorce.

THEY PUT THEIR SUITCASE ON THE BED

Dangerous? No. But to many, it’s a habit so disgusting, it’s a dealbreaker. (Three words: airport bath-
room floors).

THEY’LL ONLY EAT AT CHAIN RESTAURANTS

A good travel partner embraces the adage “when in Rome”.

 A questionable one only wants to eat what they can get at home. If they don’t have the curiosity to try anything new in a place they chose to visit, that flag is red.

 “I know someone who went to Paris and ate at McDonald’s most of the time they were there,” said writer Wilder Shaw said. “That’s a no for me.”

THEY GET TO THE AIRPORT TOO EARLY

Your ideal travel partner is on the same page about when to get to the airport. Your nightmare one is an extremist about it – like, four-hours-before-a-flight extremist. “I just don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish,” said travel writer Brad Japhe. “Are they eager to explore the airside food and beverage options? Because that’s a massive red flag. Even more so for lounge buffets.”

THEY GET TO THE AIRPORT TOO LATE

There’s ridiculously early, then there’s red-flag late. If you’re trying to break a stalemate, default to the earlier side to relieve some stress for the early bird in your partnership. It’s more pleasant anyway. At least to Shaw.

“I gotta get there early,” he said. “I gotta get my little snack, I gotta post up early. I gotta spend like USD19 on a Caesar salad.”

THEY FAKE AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL

They can’t be bothered to pay the pet fee, so they bought a vest online to dupe the airline. You hate to see it. “I can’t be dealing with some-one who has a fake service animal,” Shaw said. “That’s a no for me as well.” – Natalie B Compton

PHOTO: ENVATO
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