Traveling with friends is either a huge nightmare or the best trip ever! Okay fine. Something in between is also possible, but we mostly hope for the best and are scared of the worst. I’ve traveled with a couple of friends, mainly because shared fun is twice as fun and I sometimes find it hard to approach people.
After traveling with friends, colleagues, fellow students, and my best friend, I’m happy to give you some advice on how to not have nightmare trips after which you see your friend in a whole different light.
What activities do you enjoy during your vacation?
I love to be in nature and despise visiting cities and churches, which is why I’ll never travel with my mom again. Yes, I know, compromise is a thing; but you don’t wanna compromise half your holiday now, do you? In that case, maybe consider traveling solo. Travel with friends interested in the same things as you.
How many photos do you take on a trip?
If one of you constantly has to stop because the other one needs to take 10 pictures of a space invader graffiti (I’m so guilty of that!), that might cause friction. Make sure you and your friend are on the same page with the daily pace for photo ops!
How independent are you?
If you’re going for all-inclusive holidays, it’s probably less of a problem than when you rent an apartment. However, I once rented a nice beach bungalow with a friend who until that point had only lived with her parents and didn’t have to do any housework, while I grew up with divorced parents and had to do half of everything. I became frustrated with my friend on the trip for not cooking or seeing some bits that needed to be done. Know each others habits and be upfront about your expectations to avoid friction.
What food do you like?
This sounds like a minor issue, and it can be! On holidays where you tend to eat out a lot, it can be a problem if you’re with a picky eater or god-forbid a vegan (like me!). I remember being in London with two friends and on most days we just frequented food markets until one day, there were only restaurants and we could not decide on one for at least half an hour, after losing a lot of nerves. Know each others preferences, but be willing to be flexible when it comes to finding dinner!
Plan the trip or wing it?
If the two of you are co-captains of the plan or both decide to go with the flow, then that’s ideal! I once went on a holiday where I got stuck doing most of the planning because my friend is more the “laissez-faire” type of person, which made me resent them a bit even before the holiday started. Be willing to work together on planning and voice any concerns that come up before the trip.
How do you approach challenges?
I once was traveling with a friend who worried about everything. I’m talking down to if the busses would accept our student ID although the website said they accepted any European student ID. That behavior stresses me out, while others might be fine with it or even like it. Know what stresses the other out and try to avoid those actions. Let your friend know if something is stressing you.
How do you two interact (especially under stress)?
I tend to overthink things, which is probably annoying, but my best friend has an awesome way of calming me down. And sometimes we can just say the truth right into the other’s face, e.g. “you stink, take a shower,” without getting into a fight. This one is really hard to predict with people you don’t spend much time with. Be sure to know how to work with, rather than against, each other.
What are you like when you’re tired?
My friend and I once stayed with these super nice musicians we jammed with almost all night and even though we had to catch a train at 5 AM. We are both still surprised that we didn’t lash out at each other that day! We just played people watching and let the out steam gossiping all day. Being tired is a huge risk of getting agitated really quickly. Get your rest, but also recognize when you’re getting cranky.
If you do grow tired of the person you’re traveling with, here’s the advice I can offer. Last year I went on a trip with my best friend. Getting irritated by her was basically unavoidable since she was in a really bad place. We took a day off from each other, and it really helped! We met this couple that was in a similar situation, so she went off climbing with the man and I had a beach day with the woman. Afterwards, we could stand each other again…until a few hours later, she slammed the door waking me up, who then spent 4h with insomnia…but that’s a different story for a different post. It is so important to spend some time apart when you’re at your breaking point. That’s probably the what has made my experience traveling with friends so great!