How To Travel With Friends And Stay Mates
Look up the definition of ‘travel’ and you’ll find something very broad. “To make a journey, usually over a long distance” can be used to describe literally everything from an hour-long train commute to three years trekking around the world – it’s that wide-ranging of a term.
Understandably then, even you and your close mates can have very different interpretations on what you consider ‘traveling’ – in the getaway sense – to be. For one person, it may mean doing and seeing everything a destination has to offer, while, for another, it could be a chance to unwind with slow-paced days and chilled nights.
Go on a trip together and a lot could go wrong. But, if handled correctly, it could easily end up being one of the most memorable of your lives. Here’s how to make it the latter.
#1 Be honest
Being honest with your travel mates in the early planning stages of your trip will pay off down the track. When deciding on the itinerary, be open about what kind of holiday you picture having, what sights and experiences you definitely want to see and do, and how much you can think you can afford to spend while you’re away. This is the time for ideas, opinions and expectations to mesh together.
On the trip itself, continue speaking up for yourself, but try to be more flexible and sympathetic towards others. When people are taken out of their comfort zones, they’re likely to feel more vulnerable than usual with their emotions running high. If a situation is starting to bug you, decide whether it’ll still be bothering you back home and if not, consider letting it go.
#2 Be prepared to discuss money
In every day life, the topic of money may never even come up between friends. But when you’re traveling and spending 24/7 together, it’s an unavoidable one.
To avoid any cash-related drama, make sure you’re all on the same page budget-wise with the accommodation, meals and activities before you start traveling. Do they prefer hostels and buses or are they more of a hotels-and-taxis kind of traveler?
Secondly, if possible, ensure any owing amounts to each other are settled before you head off and if not, agree to sort them straight after. It’s a no-brainer, but it’s something that has the potential to become an issue.
Lastly, don’t brush off individuals paying group costs with a vague “we can sort it out later” – that’s almost always guaranteed to cause problems later on. Instead, divide shared bills and charges as often as you can.
#3 Share responsibilities
Planning a holiday is always an exciting undertaking, but when one person feels like they’re doing most of the work, it can quickly become a tedious task with a huge amount of pressure.
A simple way to avoid putting someone in that position is to split the trip into sections with each friend responsible for booking accommodation and activities for that time block. This ensures equal involvement across the board.
During the trip, some people will inevitably gravitate towards being organisers, while others are happy to take a backseat. In other instances, the whole group can be laidback and still seamlessly manage to make every decision together.
As long as everyone feels heard and respected, embrace whatever dynamic arises and roll with it.
When spending an extended period with multiple people, regardless of how similar their interests are, there will always need to be some give and take – it’s just the nature of traveling with others. The key is to understand that and be willing to compromise. Know that your friends have their own wants and needs too and be open to budging on yours to accommodate theirs.
Also, remember that not every sightseeing day or adventure activity needs to be a group thing. If you’re keen on doing something that your friends don’t seem too excited about, think about doing it alone. Your mates can do what they want during that time instead and you can all meet up to swap stories later.
#5 Spend time alone
The final and most overlooked piece of advice is to make sure you’re penciling in enough ‘me’ time. Particularly relevant for introverts who need it to recharge their social batteries, quiet time can also be hugely beneficial to extroverts as a chance to check-in with themselves.
Even if it’s only a 20-minute bubble bath in the hotel or a quick solo coffee run between activities, the alone time will allow you to process your thoughts and emotions in peace so you can come back fully ready to mingle again. As an added bonus, you’ll be more approachable when alone and may even end up meeting another fellow traveler to introduce to your group later on.
Sangeeta is a Sydney-based writer originally from Washington, D.C. She enjoys spending full days at the beach, browsing plant shops, and eating macaroni and cheese. You can check out her enthusiasm for clichéd sunset photos on her Instagram @sangeetatatiana.