How to Travel with Friends and
Keep Your Friendship Intact

Friends Traveling Together

When you think of travel with friends, you likely visualize laughter-filled adventures and memories made to last a lifetime.  But let's be honest, close quarters and clashing travel styles can put even the strongest friendships to the test.  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.  With a little planning and open communication, you can ensure your trip strengthens, rather than strains, your bonds.

Planning Makes (Mostly) Perfect

Before embarking on a trip, it is most important to discuss with your fellow travelers if everyone is compatible to go - and return - as friends.

  • Are there similar or compatible personalities present in the group?
  • Could you all work together to resolve a negative or crisis situation, should one arise?
  • Is there a common understanding concerning the budget for the trip?
  • Does everyone have similar expectations and commitment for making the trip enjoyable?

Be honest with yourself.  Are your friends early birds while you're a night owl?  Do they crave luxury while you're content being a budget backpacker?  

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?  Involving everyone in the planning process and having multiple discussions on interests, preferred destinations, and budget limitations will help aim for a destination and itinerary that caters to (most of) everyone's desires.

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.   Create an understanding that things rarely go exactly according to plan and be open to last-minute changes, unexpected detours, and the occasional compromise.

Deciding What to Do, See, and Experience

Common activity objectives are helpful to make travel with friends more fun.  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.  However, your friends might be a museum enthusiasts while you crave outdoor adventures.  Plan activities that cater to both.

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.

Group travel is fantastic, but everyone needs some personal space.  Plan free time for individuals to explore their own interests or simply recharge.  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.

Sometimes the best travel moments are unplanned.  Be open to spontaneous adventures, even if they don't align perfectly with everyone's initial desires.

Travel with Friends - and Civility

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.  Travel is about give and take.  Be willing to compromise on activities or itineraries to ensure everyone has a fulfilling experience.

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 they get an appropriate seat when flying or riding.  Travel can be stressful.  Be patient, understanding, and offer support to your friends if they're feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

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.

When you travel with friends and bring along civility and positivity, you can ensure your next friend-cation is one for the history books, strengthening your friendships and creating memories that will last a lifetime.  So grab your backpack, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to travel the world with your besties by your side!

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