If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together. ~African Proverb~
You and your friends are sitting around talking about taking a vacation together. It sounds like a lot of fun as you plan where you are going, what you’re going to do, which sights you will visit, when, where, and how you will get there. But is traveling with friends a good idea? It depends on who you travel with.
A few years ago, I went on a cruise to the Bahamas with a group of girlfriends. I was the base of the friendship, as I was the only one who knew everyone in the group. We had agreed early on that we were not going to go on port excursions together but use the time at the ports doing what we individually wanted to do. We ended up spending a lot of time together, both at the ports and on the ship. On the ship, we ate our meals together, participated in games, went to different shows, and danced all night. There was one lady in our group, however, who didn’t quite fit in with the rest of us, and one evening it came to light. Overall, the cruise was a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs and almost everyone got along well. And then it happened – a discussion that caused a lot of tension. Her position on the topic was very self-centered and made no sense. When we tried to explain to her that her position could hurt her business, she refused to listen and only cared about her beliefs. I was shocked by her attitude but for some reason, it didn’t surprise me. After the heated discussion, we kept the conversations light, but I knew our friendship had changed. I had a feeling before the cruise there might be an issue with one of the ladies and I was correct – I just didn’t think it would be this particular one! After the cruise, I decided that I will never travel with her again.
So how do you decide which of your friends to travel with? Pick the friend(s) with similar interests and habits to yours. Discuss everything in advance. What the sleeping arrangements will be, your likes and dislikes, the type of traveler you are, the things you enjoy doing, the costs and what you are willing to spend on extras, what sights and activities you will be doing should ALL be discussed before you leave. Be sure to schedule an “alone” day, or at least a few hours here and there for yourself. Just because you’re traveling together does not mean you have to spend every hour together. If you are adventurous and like to wander off the beaten path, traveling with someone who only likes scheduled activities will not work. If you prefer to sit on the beach, reading and sipping on a drink, traveling with someone who only likes hiking will not work. You get the picture!
Despite all of the extra logistics, traveling with friends can be fun. Everyone should travel with a friend or group of friends at least once. Not only do you learn a lot about your friend(s), but you will make incredible memories of the shared experience. Some of my best travel memories are with my friends, taking spontaneous trips to Seward, Kenai, Monterrey, New York, and other places. It’s just a lot of fun with the right person or group.
What are some things you may learn about your friends when traveling?
You will find out quickly what annoys them, their “real” personality, how they treat people, and what type of person they are out of their normal environment. You will also discover if they like to learn about the local culture and how clean and neat they are – and ideally, you will still be friends after the vacation!
Communication and flexibility are key to traveling with friends. Make sure you are open and honest about your expectations, what you want to get out of the trip, how you feel about where you are going, and the things you want to do. Be flexible, because no two people are alike. Try new things and be willing to compromise with the schedule and activities you do. Set ground rules regarding the room and sleeping arrangements. It all goes back to communication. The goal is to have fun, make memories, learn about different cultures, laugh, try new things, AND remain friends after the trip.
I recently sat down with my nieces Kenneth and Jamie. They are best friends who travel together at least once a year and still maintain a very close friendship. Here is what they had to say about traveling together.
If you have traveled with friends, I would love to hear about your experiences. What tips do have to make the next trip even better?