It’s always great to travel with friends. You get to make memories and experience new: places, food, people and cultures with those closest to you. However, many assume they can hop on a flight to a foreign country with their bestie with no problem. That may not always be the case. Traveling can be unpredictable and even stressful at times and people react differently when under pressure or in a new environment.
Most of my travels have been with close friends and friends of friends. While most of my trips have been amazing, I’ve had some trips that caused friction in my friendships. Traveling with friends is an incredible experience, but I’ve learned that you can’t travel with ALL your friends. Below, I am sharing tips on how to figure out if you and your friend(s) are compatible travel companions.
1. Identify Each Persons Travel Personality/Style
This should be the FIRST thing discussed when planning to travel with friends. Everyone should explain what their ultimate goal is for the trip to determine if your travel styles even mesh. If your friend wants to lounge by the beach all day, but you want to go seek adventure, it may not be ideal for ya’ll to travel together. The last thing anyone wants is for their interests to not be included in the itinerary, leading to resentment.
However, this isn’t to say that you can’t travel with friends with different interests. They could help you open up to experiences you wouldn’t have tried with friends with similar interests. You just have to make sure that everyone’s wants are realistic and met during the trip. For instance, I traveled with three friends to Berlin and one of them is vegan. So we made sure to go to places that provided vegan options for her. We ended up eating at delicious places that we probably wouldn’t have went to had we not traveled with a vegan.
If you’re not sure about your travel personality, consider taking this Airbnb travel personality test. The test reveals your travel personality, and your ideal city to travel to. According to Airbnb, my travel personality is “The Bon Vivant” and my ideal city is Barcelona. Which makes sense 😏.
2. Discuss Finances & Expectations
After determining each persons travel style/personality, it’s time to pick destinations and build out itineraries. This is when expectations need to be set and finances need to be discussed. If your friend wants to stay in a luxury resort and splurge, but you want to be budget-minded and stay in a hostel, this may not work. But expectations and finances need to be discussed to see if there can be compromises so everyone gets something they want.
A couple years ago, I went on a Europe trip with three friends who were studying for their masters in Edinburgh. While I was working full-time and had a steady income, my friends budget was limited, so they couldn’t spend a lot of money. And in hindsight, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money since I had student loans and bills to pay when I got back home. We decided on what destinations we wanted to visit based on our budgets. From there we agreed that we’d do as many free things as possible and cook our own meals.
Discussing finances with friends could be awkward, but it’s necessary to have this conversation in advance. The last thing anyone wants is to debate with their friend(s) over eating at a pricey restaurant, or grabbing street food. It may also be necessary to discuss how you’ll deal with joint expenses, such as accommodations. You can decide to alternate on picking up tabs and do the honor system. There’s also plenty of apps that assist with splitting the bill and allows you to easily transfer funds – I’ve used Splitwise.
3. Identify Each Persons Strengths & Skills
Everyone should take on a role before, and during, the trip based on their unique skills and strengths. When I travel with friends, I’m often the planner, time-manager and photographer. Or at least I like to think I’m a photographer. I know I’m naturally a great planner and can also ensure that we’ll get to the airport on time. But I have friends who are skilled at things I lack (e.g. problem solving, bilingualism, etc.). Encourage your friends to take a role that matches their skills, you can always swap roles when needed.
Struggling to identify the type of friends you should travel with? Read my insight on the 12 Best Types of Friends to Travel With at Brit+Co.
4. Keep the Line of Communication Open
This tip applies before, and during, the trip. As mentioned above, everyone’s wants should be met on the trip. So it’s important for everyone to speak up and discuss what their ultimate goal is for the trip. Traveling is an investment, and no one should feel like they wasted money on a trip. It’s just as, if not more, important to keep the line of communication open during the trip. There’s many reasons you may get annoyed or upset when you travel with friends. A new environment, infused with jetlag, can easily lead to frustration. Which is why it’s important to address your issues with your friends instead of being passive aggressive. The last thing anyone wants is to guess why their friend seems upset during the trip.
5. Allow For Space
Depending on how long you’re traveling, being around your friends 24/7 might become annoying. I know I’m not the easiest person to deal with for an extended period of time 😅. Be sure to allow for space from your friends, it’s okay to branch off and do your own thing. For example, I traveled with a friend in Thailand for seven days. On two of those days, we decided to do separate activities. One day, she went kayaking and I made it a self-care day (e.g. massage, mani/pedi, shopping, etc.). The second day, I went to an elephant sanctuary, while she explored the area. Each time, we came together over a meal to discuss our days. It was nice to get a break from each other and do things we really wanted to do without the resentment.
6. Be Present During the Trip
While you might want to post about your trip on social media. Or, have long drawn out convos with people at home about what you’re experiencing. Remember that you’re experiencing the world with some of your best friends – and they deserve your undivided attention. Live in the moment and be present during the trip. You don’t want to ruin the trip by being on your phone constantly while your friend is trying to talk to you.
Have you traveled with friends? If so, what tips would you offer when traveling with friends?