Of course, I don’t go on trekking trips with the explicit aim of annoying people. But the reason for going on a trip is not to make friends. I have lots of friends back home, not to mention all over the world, and I don’t actively need any new ones as I’m very happy with the ones I have. That doesn’t mean I necessarily want to go on holiday with them. Of course, some of them I’d love to go on a trekking holiday with, but it might not be convenient for them, or they might not be able to afford it, or they might want to do other things on their holidays. No big deal. I rather like going on holiday with a set of strangers. And sometimes I make really good friends from such people. I’m still in touch with people I met on trips 20 years ago. And I once went out with someone for 2 years that I met on a trekking holiday. It didn’t work out ultimately, but we had some good times.
My point, however, is this. You can’t expect to get on with everyone you meet on such a trip. I’ve talked before about the beauty of going on holiday with strangers. and how it’s sometimes difficult not to worry about what other people think of me on a trip, because I never have to see them again if I don’t want to. It’s never easy though: who doesn’t want everyone to like them, ultimately? And when you’re stuck in close quarters with people for 2 weeks, you don’t want to annoy them too much. On the other hand, it’s important not to care too much if not everyone likes you. In a group of 14 people, there’s bound to be at least one oddball (it might even be yourself).
On the Everest trip, it became evident after less than 24 hours that I had a personality clash with someone. I spent hours worrying about what I could possibly have done wrong, as I was pretty chilled about everyone in the group, but after mentioning it to a couple of other people, they made me realise that it wasn’t such a big deal. The first very sensible response I got was not to let it spoil my trip, and that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. The second, and even better, response was that in a group of 14 people, of whom almost all are single and in their 30s-50s, who’ve come on holiday at Christmas and who like walking up mountains, there are bound to be a lot of slightly strange people. And many of them have lived alone for years and are either bitter and twisted, or just very set in their ways. It was a very good point, and made me feel a lot better about some awkward interactions. Furthermore, after all the usual introductory topics of conversation about where we live, what we do for a living and so on, we’re bound to start discussing more controversial topics. And the chances are, you might also find yourself discussing someone else’s specialist subject without knowing.
Unfortunately for her, one person in the group thought she could win an argument about languages because she’d travelled a lot, having no idea that I’ve actually travelled just as much, and probably a lot more, that I have a PhD in linguistics and that the very topic of the argument happened to be something I’m a world expert on (not to boast or anything, but it just happens to be my field of research). I didn’t bother telling her, in the interests of not embarrassing her, though at the time I rather wished I had. I’ve made the same mistake in the past and happily argued about something I knew little about, without realising the other person was an expert. It’s easily done. But there are some people you can have a proper discussion with, and some people who take it very personally as soon as you disagree with them. As an academic researcher, of course I’m used to discussions and (polite) arguments. I can’t imagine a life without them. It always amazes, and amuses, me that some people just can’t argue without getting aggressive. But this is all what makes the world go round.
So my advice for group travellers is not to worry too much what other people think of you. But I do recommend staying on good terms with the guide. And it’s not a bad idea to stay on good terms with at least a few other people in the group, or it can get pretty lonely. But as long as you’re having a good time, it’s perfectly easy (and fine) to ignore the one or two people you might not find on your wavelength. Most of us are on pretty esoteric wavelengths anyway.