Traveling with friends is awesome.. until it goes awry. Travel can be stressful for anyone - with foreign languages, new maps, confusing train lanes.. add a few more people into the mix and it can get frustrating!
Here's our best tips for traveling with friends, and staying drama-free!
1. Communicate expectations
Communication is key to a good trip! Before you even start to plan, discuss what everyone wants in this trip. Agreeing on a location is a good first step, but what do you want to do once you get there?
If you want to spend the whole time in Paris at the museums and your friend wants to visit 5 bakeries sampling croissants all day, there's going to be conflict about how to spend your time together.
Just because you want to do different things, it doesn't mean it won't be a good trip together. Find some middle ground. Maybe your friend is down for three museums every other day of the trip, and you're willing to go to their top 5 bakeries.
2. Making planning fun!
I know it can be hard when everyone's busy with work or live far away from each other, but try to make time to talk and plan together.
For my most recent trip (with 6 people!) my friends hosted a trip planning brunch! They made a beautiful charcuterie board and delicious drinks. We hung out, caught up, then pulled out a laptop to start making an itinerary!
My friends' charcuterie board was almost too beautiful to eat.. almost!
When planning for a trip with friends living far away, we scheduled a couple video calls, had an active group chat, and made a shared Google Doc to discuss what to do on the trip.
During our trip planning brunch, we made this beautiful, very topographically actuate map with activities we wanted to do! My only regret is that I don't have a better photo of it.
3. Let's talk about money
Before you start booking flights and hotels, check in with everyone's budget. Ask what people think is reasonable to spend on accommodations, meals, activities, etc.
If one person wants a 4 star hotel and the other can only afford hostels, you'll have to figure out what works for everyone involved.
Keep in mind that not everyone puts the same values on things. Maybe one person doesn't care for expensive accommodations but would rather spend more money on a Michelin star restaurant. This goes hand in hand with tip #1, in that you need to communicate what you expect and think is a reasonable expense.
4. You don't have to spend 24/7 together
Just because you're traveling together, it doesn't mean you have to do everything together. Maybe there are things you want to do that no one else is interested in- maybe go do it alone or with just part of the group!
In my recent trip to Hawaii with 3 couples, my boyfriend and I were recommended a magic comedy show. It was $100+ and not exactly and activity that comes to mind when you think of how you want to spend time in Maui. No one else in our group was interested so we picked one night to have date night and each couple went our separate ways. The next morning we had a great chat at breakfast about how each others' night went!
I got this delicious Dole Whip because one of the couples got it on their date night and recommended for me to go the next day!
5. It's ok to have alone time
Especially if you're more introverted, it's good to have time to recharge alone or away from the big group. Maybe it's as simple as having time at night dedicated to watching tv alone in your hotel room.
If you feel that tensions are getting high, maybe suggest some time to cool off alone, reflect, and then meet back up to discuss how to travel better together.
In one trip to Japan, I was travel with two girlfriends. Previous to meeting up with them I had visited Kamakura during Hydrangea season- something I knew they would love! I suggested for them to go without me and I spent the day in Nikko to explore somewhere new. That night we met up for dinner in Akihabara and showed each other photos from the day.
After spending time apart, you'll probably be more excited to spend time with your friend again, and likely to have something interesting to share with each other!
6. Sometimes you just have to accept compromise
Maybe someone in the group is a sensitive eater, or on a tighter budget. Remember to be a good friend and be considerate of their needs. It's not a great move to pressure someone into doing things just because you want to.
I find it easiest to just ask before booking- make more expensive activities opt-in rather than assuming everyone is interested. If there's disagreement in what to do, remember tip #4- you can split up!
And if something doesn't go your way, remember that you can always go back and do it next time. Save something good so you have an excuse to come back!
7. Don't just go with anything because the group want to do it
If you're conflict adverse, it might be tempting to just do whatever the other people want to do and go with the flow, but that can sometimes backfire.
If there's something you want to do, speak up! If there's something you don't want to do, you can just say "You guys have fun, but I'll sit this one out. I'll meet up with you afterwards."
Your friends will appreciate your input and will want to know if you are actually excited for the activities, rather than there and disinterested.
If someone in the group is being pushy, stand your ground. If you just go along spending on things you don't care for, or doing activities you don't find enjoyable, you're only going to build resentment and complain-- and nobody wins.
8. Remember to Share Expenses
Before the trip, talk about how you want to split expenses. Will you be Venmo-ing each other? Will you have a Splitwise or spreadsheet? It's best to establish when and how people will pay each other back for each item in a way that everyone's comfortable with and everyone feels is fair.
If you have an expensive meal where people ordered vastly differently priced items, you probably want to ask the server to split the bill, or to save the receipt to break down costs by item.
Don't let one person in the group reserve all the expensive hotels, activities, flights, etc. Maybe they are uncomfortable with holding just a large balance so make sure to check in a see if you can help reserve some items, or if you should pay them back sooner rather than later.
Not everyone's comfortable talking about money so be sensitive and communicate as clearly as possible.
10. Check in even if it's awkward
Don't just assume everything is fine just because there wasn't an argument. If your travel mate is hesitant to bring up an issue, a simple "How are you? Everything OK?" can give them a little nudge to open up.
Even if it's awkward to talk about something bothering you, it's better to have it out in the open so that the other party knows. Trust me, it's better than having it build up and turn into a big argument!
Bonus Tip! 11. Eat first, talk after
I don't know about you, but I've been known to get HANGRY in the morning! Something about trying to navigate directions in a foreign language on an empty stomach makes me easily frustrated and the next thing I know, I am telling everyone to stop talking so I can hear myself think! And that's probably being generous towards myself..
I've learned to keep a few snacks (granola bars, mint, gum, candy, etc.) in my purse just for these instances when my blood sugar is running low. (Read: What's in my Travel Bag) I love my friends but sometimes I get cranky when hungry. Let's keep it under control!
Have a good tip for traveling with friends? Leave a comment below!
Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.