Travelling with friends is one of the best ways to see the world – nothing beats the feeling of discovering an incredible city, beach or hidden gem with a friend. But it isn’t always plain sailing when you’re heading off on an adventure with someone who will have different interests and different things they want to see. So to help ensure a trip with your friends runs as smoothly as possible, we’ve shared our tips on how to make traveling with friends work for you.
DISCUSS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR TRIP
This is by far the most important thing to ascertain before you do any further planning into your trip. Just like everyone is different, everyone has different travel styles and just because you all want to go to the same place, doesn’t mean you necessarily all want to do the same thing. So before you go away, carefully consider what you’d like to accomplish on your trip and discuss this with your travel buddies so you’re all on the same page before you go.
If one of you wants to see it all whilst the other is more interested in shopping or beach hopping, friction between you might quickly arise. A discussion about daily routines is also a good idea as someone who is up all night partying is quickly going to wear out someone who wants to get up early to start exploring. No single approach is better, but it’s definitely better to have had this discussion before you go so you know what to expect.
WORK OUT A BUDGET
Money can be a sensitive subject when travelling with friends and it’s probably the cause of most arguments above anything else. So before you start planning your trip, establish each other’s budgets and discuss how much money you are each prepared to spend on things like accommodation, food and transport. If one of your friends is expecting to take taxis rather than a bus and stay in five star hotels instead of an apartment, it’s better to figure this out ahead of time so you can plan ahead.
An important thing to remember when you’re travelling is not to focus too much on the pennies; if you let yourself fixate on money it will ruin your trip and possibly everyone else’s too. One option that often works for friends travelling together is creating a group kitty that you all contribute to and shared expenses come out of that. An app such as Splittr can do the work for you, so we recommend downloading it (plus, it’s free).
PLAN AHEAD, BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Before you arrive in a new country, it’s nice to have a rough itinerary in place; places you want to visit, how long you want to stay, and ideas of what you want to do once you’re there. When you are faced with too many choices, conflicts can quickly arise, so planning ahead and discussing options beforehand can help to avoid this. However it’s important to remember that your plans don’t have to be set in stone. If you’re not enjoying your time somewhere, move on to the next place. If another traveller recommends somewhere that isn’t in your original plans, go; these often turn out to be some of the best places. So be organised but allow for spontaneity – it’s your trip and you can spend it exactly how you choose.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Being open and honest with one another is an essential part of travelling with friends. When you’re spending so much time with someone, regardless of how good a friends you are, it’s likely that there will be times on your trip when you get on each other’s nerves. If you do end up having an issue with someone or something, such as somewhere you’re going or the pace you’re moving at, getting it off your chest will make you feel a lot better and could also resolve the issue.
It’s better to have a calm and awkward discussion about something that’s bothering you, than to let it build up until it’s a blazing argument. Being open and speaking up from the start will also make it a lot easier to talk things through when something goes really wrong on your travels, and you will really appreciate the importance of listening and respecting each other’s opinions.
BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE
Compromise is often the key ingredient to surviving travelling in a group, and as with any relationship, you are going to have to make sacrifices at some point of your trip. Although it sounds like the perfect scenario, travelling with friends isn’t always easy and you may get annoyed with each other or argue over the silliest of things when one of you is tired or stressed. You may think you know your friends well, but it isn’t until you travel with them that you really get to know them inside out, and you may find you need to adjust yourself to their needs and personality traits just as they will do with you. It is often the case that you are travelling with someone who is a fussy eater, picky on accommodation, stingy with money, and although it’s important to stand your ground in some circumstances, being as flexible as possible will make your travels go a lot smoother. Everyone is different and chances are you won’t want to do everything your friends want to do, so it’s important to work out things you both enjoy doing and be happy to do a few things for the sake of your friend. By doing this, you might even find you like something you thought you didn’t.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPLIT FROM THE GROUP
Just because you’re travelling together, doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. It’s perfectly fine to go off and do your own thing every once in a while, whether it’s just for a few hours or a few days. Resentment will grow quickly if you start to feel you are constantly following your friends about and only doing the things that they want to do. This might be the only time you visit some of the places on your trip, so you don’t want to feel you wasted your time in them and didn’t do and see things just because your friends weren’t interested. Before you go away, do some research on the places you’re going. Make a list of things you definitely want to do and see while you’re there, and go off and do them. You definitely don’t want to get home at the end of your trip and feel you’ve failed to do the few things you really wanted to do, especially when you’ve paid so much money to be there.
ALLOW SOME ‘ME’ TIME
When you’re travelling with a friend, you don’t have to spend every minute of every day at each other’s sides. Everyone needs some alone time, so don’t feel guilty about it. It’s not being anti-social and it’s a great opportunity to go off and do something you want to do without the guilt of dragging your friends along with you. Whether it’s going off and listening to music, reading a book or finding a coffee shop to sit in, a few hours doing your own thing one afternoon can make a big difference. But before you brave the streets on your own, remember to organise a time and place to meet back up again to avoid spending the whole day by yourself wondering where your friends are.
SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY
In travelling there can be a lot to organise, from working out train schedules to splitting the bill from dinner last night. The key to getting stuff done is to work out who’s good at what and play to each other’s strengths. As you go, it will become clear who has the best sense of direction, who can read maps, who can speak the local language, who is the happiest asking questions and directions from strangers, who is best at dealing with money, the list goes on.
Getting people to do the jobs they are most happy and confident with is a great way of spreading the workload and means not one person is left doing everything and at the same time the ‘control freak’ of your group isn’t making every decision for you.
OPEN UP YOUR GROUP
Whether you’re travelling in a pair or in a group, travelling is a great opportunity to meet new people, and for many this is one of the best parts. Spending time with other travellers can take the strain off travelling with the people you spend every day with and can dilute any issues you’re having with the friends in your group. It is also a great way of finding out new places to go, places you might not have even considered had you not been given the recommendation. So make yourself approachable and you could end meeting people that stay friends for life.
DON’T MAKE ANY DECISIONS WHEN HUNGRY OR STRESSED
This is probably one of the most important rules, yet the one that gets forgotten most often. Nearly everyone gets irritable and impatient when they’re hungry, it’s called ‘hangry’ and it is a real thing. It’s at these times that arguments tend to happen, and with the added stress of being somewhere you don’t know, making any decision when your any of your group are hungry or stressed is asking for trouble.