Traveling is friends wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t have a job in the travel industry so I am not traveling full-time. However, when I do travel, I love to travel with friends. Most of the time that is. Friends can certainly make or break the trip.
After various trips together with different friends and groups of friends, I have had experiences both positive and negative. And from that perspective, here are a few hints for making your voyages as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
Talk Before Travel
Figure out what everyone in the group wants out of the trip. What is the most important thing to each person? As you start planning, be sure to talk about your desires and goals of the trip. Just because you all want to go to the same location does not mean that you all want to do the same thing. If you don’t talk about it there may be the inevitable conflicts when one of the parties wants to spend most of the time in the museums while another wants to be at the beaches for the majority of the trip. One may be looking forward to partying until the early morning hours while another may want to set out early to find their prime spots. Just because there may be differences does not mean you should cancel the trip together. But each traveler should understand what the others in the groups want out of the trip so all can work together to make it a vacation to remember.
Allow for Personal Time
Just because you are traveling with a friend or a group of friends does not mean that you all have to do everything together during the trip. The best trips I’ve had included personal time where each did things separately at times during the trip. It made for some great dinner conversations when we all got back together in the evening.
Be Willing to Compromise
Every relationship involves compromise at times. The problem with traveling as a group of friends is that you may not have developed the compromise skills necessary to deal with being together during long time periods such as a vacation. So when it comes time to be flexible, be flexible. Stand up for yourself as needed but being flexible and going with the flow will make the trip go smoother for everyone. This one tip has probably had the most positive significant effect on my travels with friends. It has made my voyages much more memorable and strengthened my relationship with my traveling companions.
Don’t Be a Wet Noodle
Okay, be willing to compromise as mentioned above. But don’t be so lazy as to back off and never make a decision. It is fine to be flexible if you are really okay with whatever the group decides. But stand up for yourself enough that they know you will make a decision, or communicate your opinion, when needed and when you have a strong opinion.
Figure Out the Money
Money is usually the cause of most arguments among traveling friends. If you focus on the pennies and are not communicating as a group when it comes to the things requiring monies, then you run the risk of running right into problems during the trip. Decide on a basic money plan ahead of time. Hotels, costly tours, transportation and especially food can be sources of conflict. If the group wants to split the cost of meals evenly but one of you has a special diet, or one does not drink alcohol, that may be a problem. Discussing these matters ahead of time provides an opportunity for each person to weigh in and for all to decide on the approach the group will take.
Don’t Go Hungry
Another key rule, don’t make any major decisions while hungry. Everyone gets very cranky when they are hungry. And travel stress with flight schedules, tour group deadlines, trains departures, etc. adds to the anxiety. Eat first. Then make the necessary decisions. Trust me, you will have a much better trip following this rule.
Just as it is important to talk about the trip as a group during the planning stages. Traveling with a group is a dynamic and delicate undertaking. Communication is the solution to avoid blowups. Don’t let things fester or build up without talking about it with the person or persons involved. Otherwise, a potentially toxic event may spoil the trip or even the friendships. Bringing up issues, however awkward, is always better than ending up in an explosive argument. Don’t ask me how I know.
So gather your friends, make your plans, be flexible and communicate well and you will build many memorable memories and develop even stronger bonds with your traveling companions.