Traveling is hard on relationships. Whether you’re holding your best friend’s hair back as she gets seasick into the Mediterranean, or missing a train because your husband thought “Mardi” meant Monday, you’re probably feeling the stress of being out of your geographic comfort zone.

Bill Murray famously said, if you think you love someone, “Take that person and travel around the world… And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”

So when I went to India last year, I knew I had to go with Em.

Our friendship has spanned 16 years and three continents.

As my best friend since 3rd grade, Em and I had been through middle school drama, high school breakups, and most importantly — we’d already traveled together. Our friendship had (miraculously) survived a class trip to France when we were 18. In France, I : drank alcohol for the first time; spent 30 minutes in a phone booth trying to use a prepaid card because I forgot to dial “1;” crammed three weeks of souvenirs into the largest suitcase ever hoisted by a 100lb girl; and hiked hungrily around several small French towns, because Em would always reject the first seventy-eight cafes we passed. As you may guess we nearly murdered each other.

But out of every near-death experience comes wisdom, and that wisdom was that it takes a special kind of friendship in order to pack up, traipse around the globe and come back without your friendship in tatters. That kind of relationship takes effort, but it’s worth it.

That’s where The Traveler’s Pact comes in. Planning another cross-continental journey with Em inspired me to think about some of the unwritten protocols we had established that made our vacations a success. And, in the nature of all unwritten rules, they were eventually written down:

The Traveler’s Pact

  1. I promise to be prepared… at least enough that I won’t get to another country and ask you why my charger won’t fit in the funny wall plug.
  2. I promise not to bring anything which, if lost, would cause me to cry for more than five minutes (*children not included).
  3. I promise to delete all unflattering pictures of you from my camera, even if I think that camel licking your head would make an amazing profile picture.
  4. I promise to do one thing I hate in return for dragging you along to one thing you hate. I may even end up really enjoying your thing, but I’ll never admit that to you.
  5. I promise I’ll never ditch you. (No hot French mec could possibly tempt me away from that cozy twin bed we accidentally booked on Airbnb!)
  6. And finally…I promise not to get too stressed out. There are no travel problems that a good gin & tonic can’t solve. They have those in India, right??*

* * * *

*Wikipedia assures me that they do, and that in fact, the cocktail was invented in India as a treatment for malaria. Consider me two parts reassured and three parts terrified.

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