I’ve done my share of solo travel in the past [The Power of Time Off.] If you haven’t traveled by yourself –I’d highly recommended it! However, nowadays I’m traveling more and more among the company of others. Of course traveling with others means so long solitude, but taking with a pack does have its benefits. To name a few off the bat: you can relive the memories and shared experiences through each other, it’s safer, you’ll never be homesick –and a bonus for me is that I’ll always have a subject for my photographs.
I should mention that traveling with friends does have its potential risks. Like deciding whether or not to dorm with your friend when you first move out there is the potential of destroying a friendship when you travel together. Factors that contribute to this risk include being stuck with the same person(s) every blinking moment and learning to deal with/compromise with each other’s habits and budgets.
Thankfully I haven’t burnt any bridges with those I’ve traveled with. If you and your friends can survive traveling with each other you’ll all be fruitfully rewarded with epic memories and a stronger bond.
Be a Relatively Nice Person
This way someone will invite you or someone would be willing to go on an extended trip with you.
“Theme” Your Trip
Mutually decided what interests your trip will revolve around. Is this a photo excursion where you’ll be waking up around 4am to catch a sunrise over some remote salt tufa lake? Or is your trip going to be one giant buffet? Figure out what you and your buddies are going to do before setting forth on the trip. Otherwise someone is going to be the odd one out and not very happy.
Help with Logistics
Planning long trips reminds me of the pre-production of my photo shoots. –There are so many details to cover! No matter how experienced you or your friends are with traveling there’s always going to be room to contribute and help.
If you’re the one planning find ways to delegate responsibilities. If you’re the one tagging along ask “how can I help?”
Responsibilities can range from:
- Meal Prep and/or Cooking
- Booking Lodging
- Booking Transportation (car rentals, airline tickets, subway passes, etc.)
While I’m on the topic of logistics and responsibilities while traveling with friends stick to your strengths. For instance if you have the best navigational skills then you should take responsibility of reading maps and figuring out how to get to the next destination. Are you the foodie in your group? Then you should be in charge of figuring out where to eat. This mindset applies to every other area of responsibility.
For me I always end up as the photographer of the trip (no surprises there right?) and since my cell phone service provider is as useful as a Slowpoke talking to Psyduck I’m rarely in charge of online research and booking things.
Mutually Agree on a Budget BEFOREHAND
The budget of the trip dictates the expectations and experience of the entire journey. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who wants to skimp out in every way possible or someone who wants to spend like there’s no tomorrow and rank up credit card debt when you’re on the opposite end of the financial spectrum.
Find a budget that works for both you and your travel buddies and try your best to stick with it.
Speaking of budgeting, don’t be that cheap friend that doesn’t want to pay for anything. You’re no fun to be around …go away! Being overly stingy is a guaranteed way to break a friendship. Offer to help cover something (gas, food, supplies) or financially you’re unable to at the moment offer to do something in substitution such as washing all the dishes or doing all the driving if you’re on a road or you could go back and revise the trip’s budget.
Among my friends we cover our own transportation and split shared travel expenses equally. If you decided to do this as well I highly recommend using the Splitwise App. It’s free and available on web, iOS, and Android. What’s great about it is that it easily keeps track of who covers what and who owes what and to who. Also instead of letting all those expense receipts accumulate (and then get lost somewhere) you can collect them within the app by photographing them with the phone’s camera.
Don’t be passive aggressive. Don’t do it! Instead be in constant communication with each other’s expectations and energies. This way you’re always on the same page and no one harbors ill will that eventually manifests into a horrible monster that will destroy your trip and friendship. Just be honest and considerate with one another.
Additionally I found it helpful to communicate a systems of check-ins with each other regarding important items such as:
- Do you have your passport?
- Who has the car/hotel key?
- Should we bring bug spray on this hike?
- Did you bring an extra battery?
Have an Opinion or Be Down
I have a major pet peeve with traveling with others that want to do whatever you want to do, but in actuality aren’t into it. If I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do I would have traveled by myself. When traveling with others and your opinion is requested provide it honestly.
Or if you’re really chill and down for anything –make memories!
Flexibility is Key
As much as you try to prepare and account for every possible scenario Murphy’s law happens.
During my last road trip down a column of states in the States my travel buddy sprained her ankle on the first day and Mother Nature decided to be fickle and throw lightning and hail storms at us. Since this particular trip was based around trail running through a series of National Parks. Potentially this could have soiled the entire excursion, but instead my friend and I opted for hiking with poles over running and had rain gear prepared after having anticipated foul weather.
Bring Conversation Starters
You’re going to be stuck with your travel companions for a very long time and most likely they will be the first time you see when you wake up and the last thing before you hit the sack. Get used to their darling faces! Whether you’re traveling with a long time friend or someone you’ve only recently been acquainted with you will eventually succumb to boredom. There’s only so many times you can comment on that random farm animal passing by through the window.
With situations like these I’d suggest bringing a list of icebreaker questions, games, and if you’re having a technology friendly trip podcasts!
Don’t Touch Their Stuff
Don’t rumble through their stuff without their permission or without telling them know. It’s just common courtesy.
Know Their Sleeping Habits
I’ve gone on trips with light sleepers and people who absolutely need their X numbers of sleep. Let’s just say that it’s wise to have a discussion about one another sleeping habits because those that don’t get their proper Zzz’s in tend to be cranky and irritable afterwards.
Ditch Your Friend
It’s okay to split up every so often. Trust me you will need time apart at some point and even if you don’t it’s nice to spend some alone time with yourself. You and your buddy will end up discovering something new about yourselves and have sometime to reflect.
On a personal note my friends are always ditching me whenever we travel together (or maybe it’s the other way around.) I’m constantly wandering off to take a photo or set up a time-lapse.
Have an Enjoyable Attitude
Lastly have an enjoyable attitude. I phrase it as enjoyable because it’s highly unrealistic to expect to traveling to be all sunshine and happiness consistently. Traveling is a spectrum of conditions, emotions, and experiences. While traveling I don’t expect my travel buddies or myself to the 100% pleasant, but I also don’t expect them to complete miserable nitwits all the time. We’re all human and there will be times when you and your friends will feel unstoppable like the Avengers!
…and times when you really want to punch them in the face (don’t do it!) If you can be the person or bring the person that can be adaptable and find ways to enjoy the trip and it’s bound to happen obstacles you’ll be set for all around good times.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments what travel etiquettes you and friends practice to keep each other from destroying each other!