GOOD, BAD AND UGLY. The best experiences, the worst debacles and the most unforgettable moments happen serendipitously and cannot be planned, anticipated or avoided. Spurn thy mate’s desire for hotel reservations, a fixed itinerary or an automatic transmission.
VAUABLES. Safeguard thy most precious possessions (flyswatter, ear plugs and universal sink stopper) even from thy mate. Store photocopies of important documents such as passport, airline ticket and credit cards on thy mate’s body. Also memorize, repeat memorize, thy mate’s PIN numbers.
MATESHIP. Thou shall not abandon thy traveling companion in spite of loud snoring, racist or sexist remarks or contagious disease. Should thee become separated from one another by a rampaging mob, insane vehicular and animal traffic or a frantic toilet search, return to the point of last eye contact.
TRANSPORT. When traveling by air, spend the night before sleeping in the airport lounge. When traveling by sea, always purchase tickets for deck passage. When traveling by bus or train, try to get a seat. Chain up thy luggage and drape thy mate over it.
EATING AND SLEEPING. Rotate food and lodging power (where to sleep and where to eat) on a daily basis. Decision-making (or getting even for thy mate’s stinginess, eccentricity or poor choices) works best if applied unilaterally without regard for thy traveling companion.
HEALTH. The “healthy” one makes the decisions for the “sickie” who must obey even if it means abandoning the dream of a lifetime (crawling toward Everest Base Camp while spewing all over the track). Offer no sympathy for diarrhea–happens to all travelers. Tell thy mate to go with the flow and remind him or her that a proper loo is in the mind (and hamstring muscles) of the beholder.
SANITATION AND HYGIENE. Losing thy sense of clean is inevitable if thou are traveling right. Overlook thy mate’s aroma du jour and wear only black skivvies. If thy mate’s standards for sanitation and hygiene are not flexible (and comparable to thy own), thy trip is doomed.
SEX. If thou want sex on thy trip, bring it with thee. Life does not imitate the movies, romance novels or thou’s horny dreams, especially for Americans, well men at any rate…ok, me. Keep close watch on thy mate around Italian men.
FUN. “You’re young, you’re free, you’re on the other side of the world. For f**k’s sake, have some fun!!!! Travel mantra observed on the bulletin board in a London hostel (the four exclamation points are theirs, not mine). Equally applicable to the young at heart.
ABOVE ALL ELSE. Disregard thy mate’s worries, objections or nightmares and adhere to the Lonely Planet guidebook motto: “Don’t worry about whether your trip will work out, just go.”