Traveling can be stressful enough on its own! Delayed flights, long waits at baggage claim, fatigued travelers and personal preferences are enough by themselves; add the dimension of traveling with friends, and you can have a recipe for disaster on your hands. Traveling With Friends Can Kill Friendships.
Let’s start with booking travel because this is where the headaches can begin for some. Deciding on a destination can be complex when multiple people are making the decision. Inevitably, someone is going to have to compromise unless you miraculously agree on all the details.
I travel a lot with friends and sometimes it becomes a chore to plan these trips. One person says, “I don’t want to go to that place, I’ve been there 5 times,” The other person says, “I’ve never been to this place, let’s go there.” Another says, “That’s too far, let’s meet in the middle, how about we go here?” And that’s where the compromise begins. Hopefully you’re not the one who is always making the compromises; if you are, you may want to look for a new group of travel friends. That’s what I did! Find travel companions who have similar travel styles.
Once you pick a destination, you have to book flights. If you’re traveling on miles, it’s unlikely that everyone in the group will have miles on the same airline, and if they do, it’s unlikely you’ll find enough frequent flyer seats on the same flight (depending on group size, of course.) If you book flights on your own, you’re counting on the fact that everyone else will book while there are still awards available. If one person waits too long, there maybe no flights available and someone may end up staying home or laying out cash. Booking on your own also means you may end up on different flights, arriving at different times. If one person runs into unexpected flight delays travel plans can be thrown off.
Hotel/accommodation booking can create all kinds of challenges for groups. Finding accommodations that meet everyone’s budget and taste can be tricky. Sharing rooms can be great, or it can be down right awful. If you know the habits of the person you’re sharing a room with, then you’re much more likely to survive the trip. If you share with someone who has opposite habits or who doesn’t share your travel-style, you maybe in trouble. If one person stays up late while the other likes to go right to sleep, that can lead to cranky roommates. Other things that can complicate rooming arrangements include: room temperature preferences, amount of light/dark needed for sleeping, chatty roommates, room design and more.
Perhaps the biggest threat to friendships are finances. Paying for travel can create challenges for the best of friends. When one person pays the deposits, they maybe left holding the bag if the other person backs out of the trip. Likewise, if one person backs out of a trip, or cancels last minute, the other person may be forced to spend twice as much as they had budgeted. When paying for meals, entertainment, and activities, it’s easy to forget who paid last, how much they paid and who owes what. No one wants to end the trip having laid out more money than planned.
Personally, I’ve had some really good, and some really bad experiences while traveling with friends. Here’s some advice based on my experiences:
- Keep an accounting of travel expenses so everyone pays their own share
- Create an agreement before you travel about how you’ll make decisions (for example, does majority rule?)
- Don’t eliminate travel companions just because you don’t have a lot in common – traveling with someone who has different points of view can introduce you to new adventures
- Do make sure your roommate has similar habits so you’re comfortable with the rooming arrangements
- Contact the hotel/accommodation ahead of time to ensure your preferences are available (double beds, multiple bathrooms, sleeper sofa, etc…)
- Find travel mates who are willing to do things on their own when you need a break. Make sure you’re not traveling with the 6am crowd if you don’t awake until after 10am, that can make for stressful mornings. Be flexible and make sure your companions are flexible as well.
In the end, make sure you try to have a good time and if you encounter problems, work them out, quickly! And, if you do find that a friend isn’t a great travel companion, look for new travel companions so you don’t ruin a friendship.