Traveling with friends sometimes results in lost friendships. This is one occasion when it is absolutely essential to choose your companions carefully.
The purpose of vacationing, or traveling for any reason, is to relax, explore, and feed your sense of adventure. But when there is discord among members of the group, the enjoyment level plummets.
As with any test of a relationship, compatibility, shared interests, and mindful civility are key components of a successful trip.
Before embarking on a trip together, a group of travelers should meet and decide if they are compatible enough to go - and return - as friends.
It is important to know what your deal breakers are. What would ruin the trip for you? Is there anyone in the group that may keep the fun away?
These considerations are necessary. Especially if one 'bad apple' can potentially spoil the experience. What will you do if that happens? Could you manage for the duration of the trip or would you be prepared to leave the group and/or go home?
When traveling somewhere you've been before, but others have not, share any information you have on the destination before leaving on the trip to help keep expectations realistic.
It is helpful to have common activity objectives when traveling with friends. When headed to the mountains, it could be hiking or skiing. When headed to the beach, it could be sunbathing, surfing, fishing, or scuba diving.
If your destination offers several options for fun, formulate a plan to incorporate as much as possible. Knowing what you'll do each day, and at approximately what time of day will keep everyone on the same page.
Many resorts and tours require reservations and perhaps a deposit or prepayment. Traveling with folks who do not honor reservations or are unable to stick to a plan can upset the group. Don't be this person.
Also, if the group can't agree on activities to do together, consider splitting into "teams" and scheduling multiple activities during a particular time slot. Always look for a win-win so that everyone has the chance to experience something meaningful on your group travels.
Common courtesies and civility are vital to enjoying your trip as a group. Secrets and whispers, leaving the group without notice, not paying a bill, or individually making sudden changes to the itinerary are behaviors everyone should avoid.
Traveling with friends means just that. You are traveling together as a unit. This calls for a consistent show of respect for each member of the unit, joint decisions when planning or changing plans, and sticking together and taking care of each other.
If there is a group leader who missed a trip detail, or let a plan go awry, try not to place blame. Mistakes happen. Instead, work as a group to find a resolution and make the best of the situation.
And don't forget one of the most basic of etiquette rules: remain mindful of the needs of others. For instance, if one of your friends is prone to motion sickness, help ensure she gets an appropriate seat when flying or riding.
A friend with whom I travel sometimes always has a "travel kit" in her carry-on that contains band-aids, antiseptic ointment, eye drops, a mini sewing kit with buttons and safety pins, and pretty much anything else we may need. This sort of thoughtfulness is just one reason she's a favorite travel companion.
The amount of fun you'll have on your trip is usually evident in the planning and preparation phase. When you have a group of people who can't agree on things, or do not develop a strong level of excitement about traveling together, it may be best if you don't go.
But if you all share similar expectations about traveling together, love the same activities, and like each other well enough to overcome any discord, there's a very good chance you will enjoy your trip.
When you return home, write to each of your travel companions to let them know what a good time you had. You may even return feeling closer to them than before.