You and your friends are ready to hit the open road and make some memories! Great! Traveling with friends can be an amazing adventure that deepens bonds and creates lasting memories; but it can also be extremely trying on relationships. Here are our tips to making it out of your trip with your friendships intact (and hopefully stronger!)
1. Pick your battles
We will start with the most obvious: Compromise. Meet in the middle on things, and choose your battles wisely. Little things that you don’t actually care that much about aren’t worth your energy, things like restaurant choices, what size dorm you sleep in, and what departure time may matter to someone more than the other. You’ve made it off the plane and into your first foreign country, allow for give and take and understand when something is really important to someone or if you are just having an opinion to have one.
2. Take a time out
No one, and I mean no one, likes to be around another person as much as you will be when backpacking together. Plan to take side trips solo (or with new friends), go to dinner alone, take a day to lay on the beach and read by yourself. Not only will it give you a much needed break, but it will give you some new things to talk about when you meet back up. Trust me, after a week together non-stop you will have exhausted far more conversation topics than you thought possible.
3. Choose wisely (or not at all)
Piggybacking off of #2, one of my mother’s favorite sayings is, ‘there are worse things than being alone.’ Which may sound depressing, but is also very true. Consider who (if at all) you travel with before you leave. Make sure your intentions and expectations for the trip are the same, because if one of you is trying to have a spiritual experience full of personal growth and the other is trying to party their way through Eastern Europe, you will clash. Traveling alone is challenging, but believe me, you are capable of it – so choose your travel companions wisely and if you don’t align, go at it alone or split up and find people you click with along the way.
4. Group size matters
The more the merrier does not apply to travel groups. Sure in a group of 8, it’s easy to break apart and pursue niche interests – but have you ever tried to coral 7 of your closest friends out of the house and into a restaurant you haven’t made a dinner reservation at? It will test the strongest of bonds. My sweet spot is 2 friends. If you want to go off solo, you easily can without leaving the other person high and dry. It’s enough people to hang out with at a bar or restaurant, but not so big that solo travelers will be too intimidated to talk to you.
5. Have one navigator
You’ve heard the saying ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’; well the same goes for navigation when traveling. Let one person, preferably the person with data and a good sense of direction, take the lead and everyone else just sit back and enjoy the ride. If you really think about it, you probably already know which of your travel buddies would love this role.
6. The great money debate
There are two drastically different trains of thought on this:
1) There is a saying in Spanish “cuentas claras amistades largas.” Basically, friendships lasts when money isn’t involved. I have friends who swear by the, ‘pay for yourself and do not share expenses’ mindset and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would share expenses.
However, (2) if you and your friends are equivalent spenders, and no one is likely to go on a bender with your money for the week, I say just split expenses evenly and make paying bills and buying tickets as simple as possible.
If you differ drastically in spending, like you order 1 beer with dinner and they have 3 tequila shots and a margarita, then under no circumstances should you pool your money. But, I went on a 4 month trip with a friend and we just pooled our funds and divided everything 50/50. Sure she bought a scarf in Nepal, but I continued eating when she had food poisoning – so it all evened out.
7. Play games
You will need to pass A LOT of time. Have your go-to games that neither of you tire of. “Would you rather”, “Kiss, Marry, Kill”, “21 Questions” are some of my favorites and provide a much needed laugh when your train is delayed 3 hours.
8. Kindness is king
People go through a range of emotions and experiences while traveling, and as their (maybe only) friend you need to be there for them. That means when they suddenly get a full body rash while in Dubai, you don’t roll your eyes at them and tell them to get over it. Something I have done and deeply regret.
What are your tips to traveling with friends? Tell us in the comments!