I love to travel. Growing up, my family took vacations as often as we could. We all had our own responsibilities and we all got along pretty well.
Traveling with friends can be awesome…sometimes. Friends can either make the trip epic and memorable or they can ruin it, making you wish you’d gone alone. And sometimes you end up splitting up.
I thought traveling with one of my friends who I’d known for a few years would be fun. Boy, was I wrong! Some people are impossible to travel with. So here’s a list of dos and don’ts to make a trip with friends as easy and argument-free as possible.
1) What does everyone want?
This is by FAR the most important thing to discuss before any further planning. Just because you all want to go to to the same place doesn’t mean you all want the same thing. Sure you might say “sightseeing” and “eating good food” but if they’re thinking 90% relaxing and 10% sightseeing, and they’re thinking the opposite, there’s going to be conflict.
This happened to me. My friend and I went to southern California and while I wanted to see the sights, she was more interested in getting high and laying on the beach. So before you go, have a plan. So you don’t end up splitting 3 days into a 7 day trip.
2) How does everyone travel?
I love staying at Airbnb’s. and am perfectly content buying groceries and not eating out for every meal. I’ve traveled with a few people that can’t imagine not eating out for every meal and getting vegan food, Carrying around 50 lbs of luggage, and staying in a lush hotel. To each their own. Like #1, best to figure this out ahead of time.
3) Not every activity needs to be a group activity
I’ve made this mistake before. Just because you’re traveling together, doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. In fact, the best groups I’ve traveled with often did do things separately. Not every day of course, but every few days. It made for lively conversation at dinner.
4) If you can be flexible, do
As with any relationship, there are going to have to be compromises. The problem when traveling with friends is that the mechanism for compromise isn’t as ingrained as it is with a spouse (presumably). Also, somebody is going to be a little more of a finicky eater, a little more squeamish about accommodations, a little more worried about money.
So if you can compromise, do. Stand ground when you need to, but being more like water and going with the flow will make everything go smoother. But…don’t be a pushover!
5) Don’t be TOO laid back
This is the counterpoint to #4. Sometimes my friend would make all the major decisions and not even ask for my opinion even when I knew most of the decisions were not very smart.
6) Everyone will need some personal time
Everyone needs some “me” time, especially introverts traveling in a group. It’s not being anti-social, it’s just some quiet time (or music-infused time) to recharge the social batteries.
Factoring that in, and keeping #3 in mind, will make things a lot easier.
7) As in all things, communication is key
A group dynamic is a fickle, delicate thing. Don’t let things fester. Don’t let things build up. I’ve seen this happen and it’s toxic. A presumed slight, a mistake on a check, any number of things can seem like an issue but digging deeper, aren’t. A calm but awkward discussion is ALWAYS better than a fiery argument.
Do you have any tips about traveling with friends? Drop a comment below.