I keep seeing memes to “take it out of the group chat” and plan a vacation with your friends. And I wholeheartedly agree that travel with your friends is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.
Some of my best trips have been with my girlfriends.
A weekend getaway to Oslo was Christine’s idea. Primavera Festival in Barcelona was Stacey’s. I just got back from New Orleans – a trip I suggested my friend Karen join as my travel buddy. I’ve also travelled with platonic male friends to music festivals. They were all a blast. Road trips to rock shows, a day trip to the spa, a full-on expedition overseas —it doesn’t matter how far you are going, or for how long, but travel with your friends is sure to leave a lifetime of memories.
Whether you are currently single or in a relationship, planning a trip with your friends should be on your travel bucket list. Here are 10 reasons why (and my best tip to avoid fights!).
Let’s start with something practical: solo travel is expensive. If you’re like me and have outgrown the hostel scene, hotels generally charge per room, not per person. Most resorts and package vacations are priced “for double occupancy” and charge an extra fee for solo travellers. Since accommodation can be the biggest expense on a trip, splitting the cost of a room is the best way to make your travels more affordable. Same goes for rental cars and taxi rides.
Share the excitement of planning!
A 2020 study confirmed what I’ve long suspected: we are happy when thinking about travel. A whopping 97% of people surveyed said that having a trip planned makes them happier. When you travel with friends, you share that excitement and can keep each other hyped during the countdown to departure.
Deepen Your Relationships
Remember sleepovers? Staying up late having intimate conversations with your best pals? Travel with your friends provides the opportunity to have that kind of deep talk, to get real with each other free from the distractions and routine of home. Whether it’s having fun getting ready together to go out on the town, or enduring a long train ride, you will create so many memories, and so many in-jokes. There’s something special about having someone who knows just what you mean when you start a sentence with… “remember that time….”
Safety in numbers
Enjoying the nightlife is one of the pleasures of travel, but it can be worrisome when you’re out there alone in a new city, especially for women travellers. With a friend, you have someone to watch your drink when you go to the bathroom, fend off any unwanted sexual advances, and walk home with. Even during daylight hours, it’s handy to have a friend keep watch of baggage in airports and bus stations, and to help look out for scammers on the street. If you’re a young person, this will also make your mum relax a bit when you’re travelling. (Just a bit, mind.)
More and better photos
Selfie sticks and strangers are excellent ways to get photos when travelling solo. But wouldn’t you rather have a friend to take pictures with? And if you forgot to take a photo of something there’s a good chance your friend has one.
Sharing To Dos
We all have our own strengths. Maybe you’re good at foreign languages but a terrible navigator. You love seeking out the best food spots, your friend is better at finding great deals on hotels. There are so many little things to research and manage on trips, splitting them up between friends is an excellent way to make sure your vacation actually has some downtime in it!
A voice of reason
Should you buy that dress? Flirt with the cute stranger at the bar? Continue haggling over that art piece in the market? Your real friend will tell you. Honest advice is priceless.
Meeting your friends’ friends
Sometimes your friend has friends to visit where you’re travelling. And whether that’s a free place to stay (score!) or someone to have lunch with, you’ll have the chance to spend time with a local and grow your own circle of interesting people you know around the world.
Trying New Things
I assume if you’re going on a vacation with a friend you think they are fun and smart. So there’s a good chance they have ideas for things to do that you might not have thought of on your own, but would enjoy. Travelling with a friend, you can support each other in more adventurous activities too, push your boundaries with someone you trust. And the only thing as fun as checking off your bucket list experience on a trip is helping someone else realize theirs.
A few caveats…
For all the benefits of travel with friends, there are a few risks. Here are some things to consider before you go.
Be honest about your budget
Discuss money in advance, and only travel if you are on the same page on what you want to spend. There may be moments where someone wants to splurge on a fancy meal, someone else wants to pay extra for premium seats to an event or attraction, etc. That’s normal. But if one person only likes 5-star experiences and the other can’t afford it, you’re going to clash. I personally enjoy travelling with people who have smaller budgets than me because I come home with money!
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I prefer to get up and at ‘em on my travels and like afternoon naps. I have friends who want to sleep in and need a coffee before having a conversation in the morning. It’s always worth talking about this before you leave so that everyone’s sleep schedules are respected.
Prepare to split up
Travelling together doesn’t mean you have to stay together the whole time. If my friend wants to sleep in, I’ll go for my morning walk alone. If they really want to see an art exhibition I’m not keen to spend the money on, I’ll go have a snack and meet them later. And if someone tells me they want some alone time, I don’t take it personal. Even when you want all the same things, solo reflection time is a wonderful part of all travels, so split up and then catch up over dinner.
What will you eat and drink?
I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t drink alcohol or take drugs. That’s something I need all my travel mates to know in advance. I love going out late and hanging out in bars (mocktails are increasingly popular, thankfully!), but if they want someone do a wine tour with, I’m not the right travel buddy. On the flipside, if my friends have allergies or other dietary restrictions I want to know in advance before I make any reservations. Also decide how you will split restaurant bills in advance – as a non-drinker splitting equally in group with alcohol drinkers is not a fair system for me so I usually ask for my own bill.
You might fight
Travel can be stressful, and it’s not uncommon for everyone to have “a moment” during the trip where they are short-tempered. But like any relationship, friends shouldn’t go to bed angry. Take a breath, apologize if needed, then get back to the business of having a good time.
Don’t forget to pack this one thing…
My best advice to head off conflict in the first place is to carry snacks. More often than not when travelling angry is simply hungry (aka hangry), and whipping out a granola bar from your bag can make you the hero of the day!
I hope this has inspired you to make a plan to travel with your friends. If you have tips for travel with your friends let me know in the comments below!