By Diane Small
There are lots of reasons travelling alone is a beautiful thing: the independence, the challenges, the freedom. But taking a friend along can transform a relationship – both for better, or for worse. The secret is knowing how to travel with friends. Whether it’s one pal, a group, or even a lover, communication is the key to a happy holiday for you and them.
Here are our top tips on how to travel with friends – and not end up hating them!
1. First, choose the right travel buddy
You know what your friends are like already, right? There’s the chic urbanite who loves dressing up. The out-of-control party girl. The prudent Patsy who’s cautious about everything. Matching your friend’s personality to the type of holiday you’re on is vital! The party girl probably isn’t the best bet to take to a yoga retreat, but she’d be great in Ibiza, for example. The fashionista may not want to backpack across rural Peru. Maybe you love your chatty friend when you meet for coffee, but can you handle all that gabbing for days on end? You get the idea.
2. Agree to ‘what if’ situations
So, you’re going with your bestie to Cancun and you know there will be lots of cute guys. What if you pull one (or your friend does)? Or you’re off camping for the first time, but you’re not sure how long you can endure sleeping without an actual bed. Agree with your travel partner on what you’ll do if any probable situations arise on your vacay in advance.
3. Work out a budget
Your friend earns half of what you do. She wants to stay in a hostel in Hawaii, and you’re eyeballing the Kauai resort in Poipu. How can you compromise? Are you willing to book a 3 star hotel ‘in the middle’ of your budgets, or would you rather supplement her share in the five star resort? Do you hate taking public transport in foreign cities? Ask your friend if she’s willing to share cab fares before you embark on your journey. Understanding how much money each of you has budgeted for the trip will save your from having big arguments later. (Tip: keep receipts if you’re sharing costs so there’s no disputing who paid what later).
4. Talk about expectations
Are you aiming to relax on this holiday, sleeping in until noon, then exploring a city at your leisure? Or are you more into party mode? Do you want to flop down on a Mexican beach and read a few magazines every day, or do you want to check out local museums, ruins and culture? Or both? Agree with your mate on what you want out of this vacation, as well as wake-up and bed times – if you ask me, there’s nothing worse than sharing a room with a night owl when you’re a bit of a lark (and vice versa).
5. Are you sharing stuff?
You’ve brought enough of your favourite organic shampoo to last for the week – and your friend decides she loves it, and uses it, too. Are you going to freak out? Or are you happy to share? Make your position on your stuff clear. It may seem petty, but I personally nearly damaged a friendship when she borrowed my favourite white Vitamin A bikini (without asking!) and proceeded to get peach juice all over the top (it never came out – but she did buy me a new bathing suit).
6. Don’t forget to plan alone time
Travelling with a friend doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck with each other 24/7. Taking some time for personal space can do wonders for the energy of the trip: It gives everyone the time to do their own thing, whether it’s shopping for souvenirs or calling their boyfriend at home.
Learning how to travel with friends – basically, engaging in a little bit of planning ahead of time – can halt potential disasters before they happen, and create a holiday that not only creates beautiful memories, but that deepens a friendship, too!