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September 17, 2009


Chris Vaughan

Is it that carefully chosen companions become more psychotic, or is it that when we carefully screen and choose someone, our expectations are higher?

Either way, the chance of nutjob behavior is reason enough for me to insist on my own room or cabin, even if I'm travelling with others.


It's a good question. But I think psychosis can occur without warning. Travel and 24-hour togetherness are difficult in the best of relationships. Separating even while traveling together is a good idea.
And when traveling with strangers, I agree, you're taking a risk when getting a roommate sight unseen. But I've always gone that route to save money and it's never been a major issue.


I have learned the hard way that good friends don't always make good travel companions. The "enforced togetherness" of sharing a hotel room and possibly a rental car can "stress test" a relationship in ways that would never otherwise occur. However, traveling with someone who has passed the "stress test" is as an experience to treasure. I'm fortunate to have one friend who has passed the "stress test" several times. The unfortunate thing is that he's only available to take a trip about once every five years. But when that does happen, I find it particularly difficult to go back to the usual solo routine on my next vacation. Or two. Or three.

I have taken trips with other friends where we agree in advance that we can't pass the "stress test." So we rent a two-bedroom condo, or get separate hotel rooms, and schedule time apart. That's enough to eliminate any friction (and avoid psychotic episodes), preserving both the vacation and the friendship. But it's also more expensive and limiting. And it's difficult to coordinate schedules, vacation time, and interest, which is why I usually end up solo.

Since I've had nothing but unpleasant experiences with assigned roommates, that's not something I would ever choose to do. The risk of ruining an expensive vacation is simply too great, even though there's also the possibility of meeting a new friend who is also a very compatible travel companion. I suppose one's success at "roommate roulette" depends on past experience and personality. But for me, no thanks. If I can't afford the single supplement, I'll just do something else.

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