I’ve discovered that every single trip will be different and your experience of a city or country will change depending on your travel companion(s). I’ve travelled solo, with one other person, two other people and now four other people. There are pros and cons to each and I couldn’t tell you which scenario I enjoyed the most! You may enjoy being more spontaneous, love planning out every single minute and or have a general itinerary to follow but with room to be spontaneous (or none of the above). Through my experiences, I thought I’d share some tips I find helpful when planning to travel with friends.
Talk about expectations before booking
I think this is one of the most important things to do before travelling with anyone. Talking about what you each expect to get out of the trip means no one will be disappointed when you get to where you’re going. It’s good to know if you’re planning on staying out late every night, getting up early to view the sights, not planning on sleeping (me), eating out for every meal, or if you just want to enjoy each other’s company in another part of the world. It’s good to be on the same page BEFORE you go through the hassle of booking accommodations and flights rather than get there and the trip ends up a disaster.
Talk about money
You don’t have to get into the details about your friend’s personal finances, but you should all have a general idea of the budget for the trip: will it be a cheap, mid-range or a luxury trip? You don’t have to have the exact same amount of money to spend but I find the trip goes much more smoothly if you’ve had this conversation. The most important question: is the budget an upset limit or is it flexible? If it’s an upset limit (i.e. you can spend no more than that amount) then I recommend including a “contingency” amount in your budget (I use about 10-15% of the total estimated cost of the trip). There will always be something missing when you’re planning a budget.
If you’re interested, I wrote a blog post about travel budgeting here.
Talk about Accommodations
Speaking of budget, is everyone comfortable staying in the same type of accommodations? Is a cheap hostel (where you get what you pay for) okay for everyone? You have so many options for choosing accommodations when travelling with others: you can stay in different accommodations; compromise and stay in a hotel half the trip and a hostel the second half; stay in a hotel the whole time; couch surf; it’s up to you.
This one is tough. Sometimes you can be great friends with someone but your travel styles may be completely different. If you travel with them, you could risk putting a strain on the friendship when you return home or the friendship may end completely. I think there are two solutions to this: 1) take shorter trips or 2) don’t travel with them.
I’ve travelled with friends who, unexpectedly, ended up being a perfect match to my travel style – everything went flawlessly. However, I’ve also travelled with friends that I unfortunately won’t travel with again. You may also prefer to travel alone – I loved my first solo trip and plan to do another one later this year.
You can read about my solo travel experience here.
You can spend time apart
If you want to go to a museum/restaurant/attraction, go! The wonderful thing about travelling is there’s something for everyone but not everyone wants the same thing. Sometimes you need your own space (which is totally fine), so take it. It is easier to split up when there are more people but don’t feel bad if you want to wander off by yourself, stay longer at a museum etc.
Let your travel companions know how you’re feeling. You can’t be expected to be happy the entire trip – you’re bound to get hangry (angry when hungry), tired, uncomfortable, upset etc. when in a new place. It’s better for everyone if you speak up and let people know how you’re feeling.
Lastly, ENJOY YOURSELF! You travelled to explore a new place with someone else and you should enjoy the time you have there together. Don’t sweat the small stuff, make new memories, take in new experiences and have fun!