What Not to Do While Traveling with Friends

Caroline Morse, March 01, 2016
Fares from Washington DC:

    Traveling together is one of the best ways to strengthen a friendship and create memories that you'll look back on fondly for the rest of your life. It's also a great way to cause a rift that may ruin your bond forever. Option A is better. Make these tips your roadmap for vacationing with friends, or risk coming back as mortal enemies.

    Mistake # 1: Not Talking About Your Budget Before You Book

    Working with similar budgets for your trip might be the most important part of a successful vacation with friends. If you only want to stay in nice hotels but your buddies can only afford hostels, you need to plan different trips. Figure out what everyone is comfortable with spending (making sure to include transportation, accommodations, food, activities, etc.) before booking a trip together.

    Mistake # 2: Disagreeing on the Importance of Time vs. Money

    Your attitude towards costs vs. hassles is another difference maker. If you want to spend your money on cabs rather than public transportation to save time, but your friend would rather save money, you're going to have fundamental differences that could cause big conflicts on the trip.

    Before you book, talk about whether you're going to do non-stop flights, take ground transportation over flying, public transit or cabs, etc. Neither attitude is better than the other—everyone has different priorities—but your priorities need to match in order to get along while traveling together.

    RELATED: How to Save Money for Your Next Trip

    Mistake # 3: Being Inflexible on Dining

    Are you a devout carnivore traveling with a vegan? Or are you determined to hit every pastry shop in Paris, but your friend is gluten-free? Growling stomachs plus totally different dietary needs are a recipe for disaster. Compromise is key here. Is it really going to ruin your experience to find a restaurant that has something both of you will be happy with? If so, maybe you're better off traveling with people whose tastes more closely align with yours.

    Mistake # 4: Spending Every Second Together

      Everybody needs a little alone time now and then. Remember that you don't have to spend every minute of the trip with the people you came with. If there are different things you want to see, split up for a few hours. When you meet back up after, you'll have plenty of new things to talk about.

    If you don't feel safe traveling alone (or you're on a guided group trip where you can't get away), try instituting a daily portion of "quiet time" with your friend where you can each read, nap, or listen to music (via headphones of course) without having to interact with each other.

    RELATED: What You Learn By Traveling Alone

    Mistake # 5: Being Rude

    Lack of sleep and unfamiliar environments can make even the nicest people cranky. Just make sure that you're not taking your bad mood out on your friends. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, slip away from the group for a little bit (even if it's just a quiet cup of coffee solo) to try and calm your emotions before rejoining them. Snapping at your friends might feel good in the moment, but it can easily lead to drama and put everyone else in a bad mood, too.

    Mistake # 6: Traveling with Early Birds (If You're a Night Owl)

      Love sleeping in on vacation? You're not going to feel very relaxed and rested if your travel buddies prefer to rise with the sun to explore a new destination. You can make different sleep schedules work if you're okay with splitting up, though—the early risers can meet the night owls at a designated lunch spot, for example.

    Important caveat: You'll need separate hotel rooms for this to work. Otherwise, prepare for resentment when the night owl comes home late at night and wakes up the early bird, and vice-versa.

    RELATED: 10 Annoying Things About Hotels (and How to Deal with Them)

    Mistake # 7: Not Compromising

    Not every moment of every trip can be 100 percent about you. (We know, life is so unfair.) Be sure to do what your friends want every once in a while, even if it's not your first choice for the day. Whether it's going to the restaurant they wanted to try or taking time to let them browse in a gift shop, if everyone on the trip gives a little, you'll all get a lot in return.

    Mistake # 8: Making One Person Do all the Planning and Research

    You might think that you're doing your type-A friend a favor by letting them take on all the trip planning. Saying "We can do whatever!" and "I'm good with any hotel you pick!" may make you feel like you're being easygoing, but it puts a ton of pressure and responsibility on the person who gets stuck planning the trip.

    Get together for a group planning session where you can pick and agree on hotels/activities/etc., or put each person in charge of a different aspect of the trip. Either way, make sure everyone has a hand in organizing the trip so that if (when) things go wrong, you're not blaming just one poor scapegoat. One fun app that can help with the process is Travefy, which helps groups plan and pay for trips together.

    RELATED: Spring/Summer Trip Planning: Money Management

    Mistake # 9: Bailing Out at the Last Minute

    Once things start getting booked, it's really going to mess up your group's plans if you flake out at the last minute. It will probably increase the costs for everyone else, too. Don't cancel once you've committed unless you have a really good reason. If you do have to change plans at the last minute, offer to pay for any costs your friends might incur (like your portion of the hotel) to make up for it.

    Mistake # 10: Spending More Time with Your Phone than Your Friends

    Don't spend all your time buried in your phone whenever there's free Wi-Fi. Make an effort to put your phone away during meals and join in conversations with the people you came with instead. After all, isn't that the whole reason you went away together, for some quality time and fun with each other in real life?

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    Read the original story: What Not to Do While Traveling with Friends by Caroline Morse, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.