Traveling with “strangers”

As you can read in my previous post, in May, I spent 3 weeks in Mexico with friends. We were 4 people traveling and visiting friends and family living there, so on some moments we were a group of 7 people traveling together.

For me, this was the first time that I was traveling that way, I mean with a group of friends for more than few days, and in further destination. Usually I’ve been traveling alone and as a couple. Or with a group of friends for some city weekends and student/work trips, and of course with my family…  So before this trip, I have to admit that I was a bit anxious. Not about the destination, or the trip, but more about the cast.

Why it was such a big deal for me this time? I’m used to travel, and I usually get along with people everywhere.

Well, maybe the fact that now I was leaving with my new boyfriend for the first time, and with HIS’ friends.  I actually had no idea with what kind of people I was going to travel, except that we were all from different backgrounds with different nationalities (one Finn, one Spanish, one Greek + me) . …  So, it was exciting and scary at the same time to leave for 3 weeks with my boyfriend, about who I didn’t really know how he is while he travels (you know, that ‘joke’ about the first couple-trip as a test? 😉 ), and then the 2 others, who were a couple as well and who I had met few times before, but who I didn’t really know.

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First step was planning the trip. As I was in Lapland the whole winter and the others were in Tampere, I was trying to do my best to not feel like an outsider when my boyfriend was telling me what they had been talking or planning about the trip. At the end the most of the plans we did all together in April, when I was back in Tampere. The good thing was that since the beginning we all agreed on the same point: That we will have many places to visit because of all our friends and family who live in different cities in Mexico, but we don’t want to hurry too much and only travel for long distances during the 3 weeks. We are going for holidays, not for a marathon.

As I’ve been working as a travel agent, and used to plan itineraries and hotel bookings for clients, it also took me some efforts to not wanting to decide about everything and do all the bookings by myself. Many moments I was thinking it’s better to not say anything and let also the others the possibility to choose. Also because of my work I’m always very interesting about touristic sites in different places, and doing suggestions on the program and places to visit. In this case I was checking a lot by myself, but at the end I did very few suggestions. P1100192

Before leaving, we decided the itinerary and booked the sleeping places. As we didn’t want to  be too dependent of a program, we didn’t book anything else at advance, and that worked well.

Before leaving we also noticed that we are all different regarding on safety and health-things. When I travel, I usually just use my commonsense, and ask locals about the places not-to-go or other tips. And maybe I have always been very lucky, as nothing have ever happened when I have traveled. I’ve once been attacked in Paris, in my own building, but never on my trips. So when people  were saying that Mexico is a dangerous country, I was answering that so is France, Brazil and Finland. Well, for my fellow travelers this was a more important question and came out many times before, and during the trip.

Well, nothing happened and the whole trip went really well.   No-one was even really sick, except one or two days of some little stomach-problems, but it could have been worst. That was also something that we were talking a lot; the hygiene and the food… But luckily everybody were still willing to try all kind of food and to eat also from street restaurants.

To travel with people that you barely know, is an interesting experience. We learned things about each others and about ourselves… For example who is super stressed before a flight or gets angry when he’s hungry, or who is faster on the morning and who’s the one that everybody else is always waiting for, or who hates travelling with buses, who always needs to go to the toilet, who gets tired the most easily and always sleeps when there’s a moment for that, who’s trying to be positive all the time, who loves see and beaches – who not, who doesn’t like the tropical heat – who does…

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Like I said before, everything went very well.  Of course there were some moments of frustration, I’m sure all of us would have done some things differently if there was a possibility for that. I for example, would have stayed more days on the beach, and if I was alone, I would have spent more time in the hostels to get to know the other travelers and to meet new people. I also would have stayed more with my friends, who I was visiting… To have more time to talk with them and to see their life in Mexico. I also would have spend more time just by myself. But regarding the fact that we were almost 24 hrs all together during 3 weeks, and we didn’t fight at all, I have to say that I’m proud about all of us.

This was a good experience and I’m happy I did it, but I’m not sure I would do the same kind of trip soon again. I still prefer my liberty, and to spend more time in one place, to really become familiar with the surroundings and people. I also want to be able to go to eat a simple sandwich if I’m hungry, instead of looking for a typical local restaurant for an hour, or to leave from a museum earlier if I’m feeling tired…

The good thing is that now I have people with who to share the memories and with who to talk about the trip! That’s something I’m missing when I travel alone.

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