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Wanted:  a traveling companion
a Phantom Production

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This is an old Fred Harvey Phostint postcard. The caption reads:  
"Daring jump by a forest ranger, nearBright Angel Cove,
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona."


You don't actually have to jump off the Grand Canyon to overcome your fear of traveling with people you don't really know too well.  Take the Clever Compatibility test and have your intended victim, err, companion take it too.  Then you might have a better idea if that person will make a good companion for you. Consider the following:

There are times when you feel the urge to go traveling but for whatever reason your spouse, significant other or best friend cannot go along. The notion of traveling alone comes up. Many of us have traveled alone before in our lives, perhaps on business or maybe family emergencies. It's usually not a very memorable experience. Lonely hotel rooms and dinners for one are the reality of business travel. Why travel alone for pleasure? A person might ask: "How much do I want to visit X-land? Enough to go by myself?"

Traveling alone for business or a family emergency is one thing, traveling alone for pleasure is something else. Words like daunting, intimidating and lonesome come to mind. Maybe somebody you know would like to go too. "Wouldn't it be fun to go to X-land? Wanna go together?" These questions, perhaps asked innocently over lunch, could be the opening lines of a horror story. Ask any traveler about bad travel experiences and more often than not the story will be about the awful travel companion.

I had such an experience. A woman friend I had known for many years asked me to join her on a combined business and pleasure trip. She wanted me to take some photographs for her and help her with the background for a script she was writing. We could do some sightseeing on the east coast at the same time. It sounded like fun. I quickly said yes. The trip was a disaster. I won't go into the bizarre details, except to say that I had no idea what she was really like until that very unpleasant experience.

Say you've shared a gazillion lunches with this particular person, you've worked together for years, you've been to movies together, whatever. But what do you really know about that person? You'll find out, perhaps much more than you ever wanted to know, when you spend the next two weeks traveling together in X-land.

Even if the two of you have compatible Myers-Briggs letters, there are personal idiosyncrasies that are sometimes overlooked, or don't even show up in people, until you're with them night and day. Is there anything you can do beforehand to insure a good travel experience? Nothing is fool-proof, but the staff at Clever Magazine have developed a compatibility checklist that may help with this problem.


The Clever Compatibility Checklist

Part 1: Preliminaries
The first thing that possible travel companions should decide on is exactly what kind of a travel experience it will be. Basically, there are two types of vacations: sightseeing and relaxing, with several variations; such as:

__ non-stop traveling with no more than a couple of days in one place
__ touring vagabond style with or without a guide
__ guided tours complete with all meals, hotels and transportation included
__ lolling around, settled into a resort/condo, with lots of unstructured recreational time

Before you even think about traveling together, all parties concerned should be clear about where they are going, how they are going to get there and what they will be doing.

Part 2: Planning the trip
Once you've decided on the place to visit, the approximate date, length of stay, how much you want to spend, how you'll get there, and all the rest of the preliminaries, somebody must make the arrangements. Choose one of the following options and swear to abide by the outcome with no carping about price, method of payment, travel times, or anything else, after the fact.

__ one person makes the travel plans, with or without input from others
__ all parties should divide up the trip planning chores
__ a travel agent plans the trip

Part 3: Activities
Can you stand being with this person for more than an hour or two? Consider these:

Personal habits: (circle as many items as apply to you)
Smokers vs. non-smokers; and of course,  messy vs. neatniks
Non-drinkers vs. moderate drinkers vs. heavy drinkers
Early risers vs. late risers
TV watchers vs. telephoners vs. emailers vs. readers
People who need lots of quiet time vs. people who don't mind a little noise (from the next        room, from outdoors, from the TV)
Those who are never late for an appointment vs. those who are always running late
Vegetarians vs. carnivores vs. picky eaters vs. other various "special request" dieters: (circle as many items as apply to you)
Smokers vs. non-smokers; and of course,  messy vs. neatniks
Non-drinkers vs. moderate drinkers vs. heavy drinkers
Early risers vs. late risers
TV watchers vs. telephoners vs. emailers vs. readers
People who need lots of quiet time vs. people who don't mind a little noise (from the next        room, from outdoors, from the TV)
Those who are never late for an appointment vs. those who are always running late
Vegetarians vs. carnivores vs. picky eaters vs. other various "special request" dieters

Social habits: (more circles)
List maker-planner types vs. spur of the moment, non-planner types
Light packers vs. those who need an entourage of baggage handlers
Scholarly serious-student types vs. light-hearted fun types
Big tippers vs. small tippers
Stingy types vs. generous types
Suspicious of foreigners vs. everybody's a friend
Flexible vs. inflexible
Silent type vs. non-stop talker
Value privacy vs. gregarious, the more-the-merrier type (more circles)
List maker-planner types vs. spur of the moment, non-planner types
Light packers vs. those who need an entourage of baggage handlers
Scholarly serious-student types vs. light-hearted fun types
Big tippers vs. small tippers
Stingy types vs. generous types
Suspicious of foreigners vs. everybody's a friend
Flexible vs. inflexible
Silent type vs. non-stop talker
Value privacy vs. gregarious, the more-the-merrier type

Things people think are fun or interesting or worth doing: (even more circles)
Films: art vs. action vs. chick-flicks vs. Disney vs. foreign vs. classic vs. porno
Theater: plays, musical theatre, opera, pink poodle
Music: funk, punk, rock & roll, western, top 40, oldies, jazz, r&b, classical
Eating out: fast food vs. ethnic vs. rib/pizza/chinese/mexican vs. dining experiences
Rides: museums, Disneyland, thrill, tours of any home/building/garden/zoo
Dance: swing, ballroom, western, clubs, rave, ethnic
Tasting: wine/food/beer/chocolate/water
Lessons: sky diving/gardening/horseback riding/language/self improvement
Sports: water/land/sky (even more circles)
Films: art vs. action vs. chick-flicks vs. Disney vs. foreign vs. classic vs. porno
Theater: plays, musical theatre, opera, pink poodle
Music: funk, punk, rock & roll, western, top 40, oldies, jazz, r&b, classical
Eating out: fast food vs. ethnic vs. rib/pizza/chinese/mexican vs. dining experiences
Rides: museums, Disneyland, thrill, tours of any home/building/garden/zoo
Dance: swing, ballroom, western, clubs, rave, ethnic
Tasting: wine/food/beer/chocolate/water
Lessons: sky diving/gardening/horseback riding/language/self improvement
Sports: water/land/sky


Let us say, for the sake of not arguing about it, that it doesn't matter which items you circled on this list. You don't have to count them, but you do need to compare them, and maybe even talk about them -- before you make definite plans.  And you should be relatively honest.  What does matter is that you know some or most of these things about the person you will be traveling with before you start the trip.

Otherwise you might be in for a big surprise, like say, the moment you get to the airport. Your traveling companions might not show up until the very last minute, having forgotten their passports and dragging trails of luggage that nobody can lift. The non-stop talker is making friends with everybody in sight, while trying to charm the flight attendants into stowing the luggage in the first class compartment. The vegetarian is sneering at airline food, while the list maker is perusing the travel books making tour agendas for the minute the plane hits the X-land tarmac. The bookworm is being driven nuts by the noise of it all, while happy-go-lucky snores through everything.

This may be the beginning of the vacation of your dreams or your worst nightmare. But you can only blame yourself, if you didn't know beforehand what your traveling companions are like. On second thought, if your compatibility checklist doesn't look like anybody else's, maybe traveling alone might not be such a bad idea after all. Bon Voyage!


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