Traveling with friends is a great way to let loose and have a good time away from the daily grind. During everyday routines at home everyone is usually at work or school and it is often difficult to get together and spend some quality time. A trip with friends is a great way to reconnect and enjoy each other's company.
While the idea of traveling with friends is appealing, the reality is these kinds of trips don't always go as envisioned. This doesn't mean all trips with friends end in disaster, but without degrees of flexibility, there is potential for it to happen.
The key to avoiding any misunderstandings when traveling with friends is to give some thought to certain aspects of traveling before heading off on vacation. If you iron out the details ahead of time, this can help diminish the chances of any conflicts arising.
The art of compromise is a big part of having a successful trip. It is important to understand when going on vacation with multiple people, chances are no single person is going to be the decision maker. Group trips are joint efforts and most are going to want to have some sort of say in the planning process.
As you and your friends make plans you all will quickly discover the diversity in opinions, likes, and preferences. Even things such as personal habits or routines will differ between friends.
Some people are early birds, others are night owls; some skip breakfast while others consider a hearty breakfast the most important part of the day. It would be unfair to start banging around in a shared kitchen at 6 a.m. if your buddy wants to sleep in, and it would be inconsiderate if you tended to crash after the 10 o'clock news and a friend was to blast music and party until the wee hours of the morning. In the majority of group trips there will probably be some need for compromise.
These kinds of differences don't sound like a big deal on the surface but when people share living space and itineraries on a vacation, personal habits can impact the trip schedule a great deal. You'll have to realize you may have to compromise and vary your preferences a little to be considerate of your travel mates; consequently they should do the same for you.
Ideally, you'll probably want to make financial agreements ahead of time. Considerations to think about are gas, tolls, tickets, meals, rental car (if needed), accommodation expenses and any other necessary costs associated with the various types of traveling.
The biggest of financial issues for traveling is accommodation expenses. How the space is going to be paid for should be decided well ahead of time. The costs associated with housing may vary depending upon what style of place the group is renting. If you are all in individual hotel rooms this is easier because everyone can pay their own way. However, if accommodations are shared to be more cost-effective, thought may need to be considered in how to split costs, depending on what kind of accommodations are being rented.
For instance, if you have kids and are traveling with friends who don't have children and you plan to share a rental home you'll probably require more bedrooms. In a case like this, accommodation costs may be better split according to many bedrooms you need.
Or the setup may be one master suite with a Jacuzzi and two small bedrooms. You may want to consider the cost split ahead of time for unequal accommodations to avoid any bitterness if one member is in a tiny room and paying the same price as the friend occupying the grand master bedroom. In some cases, size or number of rooms won't matter (or people can take turns), but always good to cover it ahead of time.
Meals are another consideration which might cause conflict. People have different dietary preferences and needs and this is important to remember when buying groceries or choosing restaurants. If your group is sharing a house with a kitchen, the grocery expenses can be split fairly and in an agreeable fashion (or everyone buys their own).
Paying for restaurant meals can lead to potential conflict. Many people like to take turns picking up the tab for friends, which is great, but take note to make sure one person isn't absorbing the bulk of the cost because this could lead to resentments later.
As a potential way to avoid conflict, the group may want to consider putting a cap on how much one party/person should spend or rotate the different meals. Another way to ensure no resentments occur is to simply agree everyone pays their own way with separate bills.
Leave Room for Flexibility
Be prepared to have a level of flexibility, it's important everyone not be rigid in their schedule of things they want to see or do because chances are not everyone is going to agree 100 percent of the time. Some people like to vacation in an inflexible fashion and stick to a schedule to see the sights, while others like to be spontaneous and go wherever the day takes them when they roll out of bed.
Before going on your trip it is a good idea for your group of friends to have a conversation about this and mutually define what kind of trip the majority prefers it to be. No one will likely be happy all of the time, but by building room for flexibility on the trip, it's more likely going to be more agreeable to all.
Get input from everyone about the activities they want to do. If your group is traveling to a location where there are a lot of attractions, there may be too many sights to see in one trip. Before the vacation, organize a group gathering to sit down and go over possible attractions, activities and sights and vote on which ones everyone wants to see.
This way there are no surprises and everyone knows what to expect and one friend won't be expecting to spend the days resting on the beach while another intended to spend the days at the amusement parks or visiting historic sites.
In a group situation there is always going to be assorted opinions, needs or wants. Differences are inevitable and if people in the group are prepared for various approaches or perspectives ahead of time there will be reduced or eliminated disappointment later.
For instance if one member of the group decides go off alone for a while try and not be resentful. Some people need to re-energize during vacations and need to take a break from everything. If this happens, do not be offended, it is not likely anything you've done. Consequently, if you are the one who needs a break from everyone to recharge your batteries, make your reasons known so others understand your perspective and don't feel slighted.
Traveling with friends can be a blast. The key to a successful and memorable trip is to establish agreements ahead of time and be prepared for some compromise, flexibility and understanding. If you take on the trip with this kind of approach you'll all have a great time and come home with some newly made terrific memories.
[ Related Reading: What to Consider Before Traveling Solo ]