Written by Josie from Gild Society
We all love our friends and family, but let’s face it – who you travel with can sometimes make or break your experience. I believe there are two major types of leisure travel. There’s the vacation type that is primarily based on relaxation, taking it easy, finding peace and quiet, or simply spending time with the people closest to you in a carefree, beautiful place (think tropical getaways or renting a cabin in the woods). Then there’s the exploration type that focuses on exploring, sightseeing, trekking, outdoor sporting activities (kayaking, white water rafting, zip lining, hiking, etc.), and backpacking.
Since the intention of the first type of travel is relaxation, it doesn’t matter as much who you go with as long as you enjoy their company. However if the purpose of your trip is to explore a new place, the people you travel with can make all the difference. Most of these types of trips have a specific purpose or goal, like trekking the Inca Trail, hitting all the historical landmarks in London, or completing all the items on your bucket list for a specific location.
I’ve heard several times that it’s not a good idea to travel with friends. The argument is that traveling can bring out the “bad” sides of people you may have not seen before and it could negatively affect the friendship when you return home. I don’t completely agree with that – one of the best parts about traveling is being able to share the adventure with the people you love!
The best way to accomplish this is to make sure you and your buddies are aligned with the expectations for the trip. Here are some important aspects to consider when choosing your travel companions to ensure your trip is enjoyable and fulfilling for everyone.
Review the itinerary and activities together before you leave. Differences of opinion can cause conflict or make one of you sacrifice something you really want to do for the sake of keeping the peace. It’s helpful to have everyone lay out the things they want to do beforehand so the group can account for it and know what to expect. Don’t travel with a bossy or selfish friend that wants to make all the decisions.
Have similar budgets. Traveling costs money and there are ways to do it cheaply, or go all out and splurge. This is something you’ll want to discuss before the trip as well to make sure the group agrees on what kind of accommodations to book, whether to eat at pricier restaurants and how often, and what kinds of activities to do. You won’t want to miss out on anything, but at the same time it isn’t fair to expect a friend to do something if they can’t afford it.
Punctuality. You’ll need to be on time for trains, tours, flights, etc., especially if you’re trying to cover a lot on your itinerary. If you have a friend that isn’t good about being on time or likes to sleep in, he or she may not be the best person to take on your trip. Save them for your next relaxing getaway.
Mutual trust. Since exploration travel can put you in all kinds of situations, it’s important to trust the people you’re with. They won’t leave you drunk at the bar, let you run off with strangers, or misjudge a dangerous situation – they’ll help keep you safe. You have their back and they have yours.
Pet peeves. They can become 10x more annoying when you’re traveling. If you know your friend has a few annoying habits, make sure it’s something you can tolerate and try not to let them get to you during the trip. Also be aware of your own behaviors that may be irritating to others so you can be mindful and considerate!
Have similar mood and temperament. Traveling can be stressful and it’s important that you and your companions are able to handle any situation in a rational way. The group should be cohesive and it’s okay if everyone doesn’t agree on something as long as there’s a high level of respect for all opinions.
Have a lot in common and similar interests. This one is a given considering you’re traveling together, but you never know. You’ll be spending a LOT of time together, so make sure you have things to talk about or it could get awkward!
In essence, traveling can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can share with people, but sometimes the best of friends can realize they don’t travel well together.
This isn’t a testament to the strength of the relationship, it can just simply be a result of contrasting personalities, bad reactions to stressful situations, or differing travel goals and intentions. I’ve made some of my best friends traveling and it’s definitely possible, everyone just needs to be on the same page. And of course, don’t forget to have fun!!