At its best traveling with friends, a best pal or a small group enriches the shared life experiences and the compatibility that brought you together in the first place. Whether it’s an organized tour or your own planning with an agreed upon itinerary, accommodations, as you head out the big decisions are made. But living together 24/7 even in the short term can reveal surprises and stresses not evident in day-to-day interactions with your nearest and dearest. Following are some tips to help set expectations and ensure that the trip is indeed the wonderful memory your friendship deserves.
1. Understand one another’s daily habits.
Because we know the devil’s in the details…
- Are you an early bird to her night owl? After a long day of sight-seeing, a hot bath/bed is the only curative and prep for the next day for some; others read/watch tv or engage with locals/other guests; the wind-down can be very different.
- Timeliness: Do you agree that breakfast is at 8 but know it’s impossible for the group to gather before 9? Is an appointed time only a suggestion? It’s hell to wait, and the stress can go from “annoying” to “unmanageable” faster than you can say “Trip Advisor”. Be advised.
- Are you wash and wear traveler paired with a fashion plate? (see timeliness)
- If meals are important to you, are you okay with a grazer?
- Here’s a big one, and sensitive: drinking. Wine at lunch and dinner may be outside your purview at home, but your companion/s may see it as part of the cultural experience and a luxury of the holiday. Give some leeway here; it’s okay to do the afternoon’s museum on your own.
2. Know the travel tics and priorities
- Are you traveling with a compulsive (phone) photographer? It’s hard work being around a photo-hound, according to my friends. She’s the one grasping the iPhone, always looking for the right angle, composition, lighting, taking multiple shots. If you’re guilty like me, share your work as soon as possible with flattering shots of your pals, or better yet, ask someone to snap all of you. It’s like an immediate post-card everyone can forward.
- The structured versus the spontaneous. Are you a deep-dive, paired with a drive-by? Are you carpe diem to her scheduled itinerary, unruffled by “getting lost” for the thrill of what you might discover? A meeting of the minds is due here, with some concession on both sides. Lots can and will happen on the fly. Stay flexible.
- Is shopping a must? Tourist trinkets, serious purchases or exotic markets? Some of us can’t pass up a shop; for others, it is simply not as important as soaking up the experience. Know before you go which side of the ledger you and your pal fall on so you can adjust the expectations accordingly.
Maybe you linger at the museum exhibits while your pal/s explore the market.
3. Expenses on the road
- Agree beforehand how shared daily expenses will be allocated. Trip kitty? Keep a tally and settle at the end?
- Split a joint bill with cards where possible. I don’t mean down to the last cappuccino, but a pay-as-you-go plan avoids sticker shock at the end and helps the budget-minded keep track of her spending.
- Disposable spending is often a sensitive topic; be mindful and considerate.
4. Consider your own room
- Sharing accommodation can be fun and certainly cuts down on expenses. But, with multiple destinations, a night or two on your own will give you both welcome privacy.
- If you’ve committed to sharing (a cruise or tour), arrange some ‘alone time’ in the room to give each of you a privacy break.
- In shared quarters, be über-vigilant about neatness! Particularly the bathroom (a blinding glimpse of the obvious; do I even have to say this?)
5. Mix it up
- Have a cousin in a town you’re visiting? A long-lost college roommate? Some of the best experiences I’ve had traveling with friends is to meet their friends along the way. If you’re lucky, you come away with a new friend yourself, but even if it’s just a passing afternoon it will be one of the sweetest memories of the trip, I promise. On the other side of the equation, sharing a friend is a gift to a friend.
In closing, a few Rules of Engagement….
- Every few days, take a few hours off from each other’s company to follow your bliss. Don’t feel you have to do everything in lockstep. Afterward, sharing the solo adventures is like hitting the refresh button on the day.
- Be considerate in your social media posts – pictures that are hilarious between the two of you may not be as funny once posted on Facebook.
- Communicate! …. don’t let a pent-up an irritation ruin even a moment. If there’s an issue, get it out there. That’s what friends are for. It’s time to hit the road!
I feel so very lucky to have had the privilege of deepening my friendships through travel … friends who endured my tics with humor, patience, and grace. I hope I returned the favor in some way.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list… what are your experiences and the lessons learned in traveling with friends? Please add in the comments below!
© 3 Score & More, 2017