Travelling with friends should be a memorable experience that you will cherish for years to come. However, without some advance planning, clear communication and flexibility, it can easily become more of a challenge that you would rather forget.
In the planning stages, you all must ask questions. You may be close friends but, how well do you really know each other? Travel style is an important consideration as some people like ‘roughing it’ while others want to travel in luxury. Talk about whether you all have similar interests, similar body clocks and a similar level of activity. Not everyone wants to take five-hour hikes up the beautiful mountain just as not everyone wants to spend all day relaxing (doing nothing) on the beach. It is important to consider everyone's wants, goals and expectations of the trip or holiday.
Budget is another essential consideration in the planning stages. This also relates to travel style regarding choices between hostel vs rental vs hotel. Some groups create a trip fund where everyone contributes equally for shared expenses.
Also, remember to discuss how you will split meals on the trip. This can lead to much misunderstanding and disappointment but, if you are all on the same page from the word go, it will lighten the load. Sleeping arrangements should also be discussed early to avoid tension on arrival.
It may be a good idea to work with a travel advisor who is accomplished at helping groups make efficient decisions. The advisor can lead the communication and anticipate any problems before they arise.
Communication and Consideration
Before and during the trip, communication is vital. Everyone needs to feel free to express their wishes and then compromise if necessary. Not every activity has to be done together. Every few days it is a good idea to plan a break from each other to be able to indulge in different interests. If certain members of the travel party are not comfortable going exploring alone, they can use the time to relax in the hotel room, take a guided tour, or visit a spa. One night could be set aside as a ladies’ night out on the town while the men have a guys night in. Personal time is not being anti-social; instead, it allows everyone to recharge their social batteries.
Patience, flexibility and compromise are three important things to remember when travelling with close friends. No one wants to lose friendships due to bad planning, so it is important to have an itinerary but be flexible. Designate a leader to present the plans to the group or delegate tasks to different group members. One could be in charge of the plans regarding getting everyone to and from the airport, the next could choose the accommodation and another could sort out local transport options.
It is always fun to have some days planned down to the minute, with others left for spontaneous outings. Be considerate of each other and pay close attention to personalities, likes, dislikes, and moods.
Being part of a close-knit friendship group is a delicate dynamic that can be balanced well with some pre-planning, communication and compromise.