Yess!! You’re going to Europe with your BFFs!!
Awesome. You’ve known these girls you’re whole life, and you are excited to embark on a new adventure with them. You can’t wait to party in Paris, ski in Sweden and take the ultimate Instagram pictures by the Berlin Wall.
You remember that Sarah drinks too much and loves to sleep in very late. Ashley gets angry when she doesn’t get her way and Erin is the rich one with no grasp of reality let alone a budget. Crap. This might be difficult.
Traveling with a group of friends can be a life enriching hit or a dismal miss. Here are 10 tips to maximize the fun and minimize conflicts.
SHARE AND COMPARE YOUR BUDGET PLANS
Although it is in the best interest to save up roughly the same amount of money as your travel buddies, it is not necessary to spend it all the same way. It is very important to map out how you plan to spend your money while traveling. One friend may want you to come and spend half of your hard earned budget on eating at fine dining restaurants while you are fine with $10 treats from the street vendors every day.
*Pro-tip: Have a dinner before your trip where everyone explains what they are comfortable with spending their money on.
SET ASIDE A GROUP BUDGET
Having a separate budget together for shared expenses like taxis and groceries will cut down on confusion. Trading off times to pay for taxis will not work. Believe me, the person who paid for the $30 taxi ride from the airport will secretly scoff when the next person only pays $6.50 for the cab to the nightclub. Save time and by putting together say $20 each for shared taxi rides and each day. Whatever is left, roll over to the next day. Never use the group bank for solo taxi rides or buying food that only you will enjoy.
LET THEM BE THEMSELVES
Yes, it is very annoying when Sarah blacks out drunk at a party and spends the next day in bed lamenting her decision. It would definitely behoove her to stop before she loses her liver, but this trip to Europe is not where you have your grand intervention.
Tell Sarah upfront that you love her wild carefree personality, but you didn’t fly to Paris to hold her hair while she hugs the bidet. Be firm. But when she does it anyway, don’t get too upset. You can’t expect people to correct their lifelong personal quirks on your time schedule. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
*Pro-tip: Also let her know during the dinner meeting that she will have to put extra money aside (Drunk Sarah Fund) for any taxis taken to get her back to the hotel, and the next taxi for you to return to the amazing party on the French Rivera.
When you guys planned the trip, everyone had unique things on their “must-do/must see” lists. If you have no earthly desire to visit a shopping mall (like me) but it is on your friend’s bucket list, you guys can compromise to spend a few hours in the mall and then a few hours at the museum of your dreams. Or try splitting up for a few hours. It will actually be very rewarding to split up and see different parts of the city, get together later that night and tell each other about your exciting day over drinks.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
When you travel with a group of 5 friends, there are a total of 6 different opinions, itineraries and sleeping schedules to coordinate.
Friend # 1 wants to go a museum that is 3 train rides and 55 minutes away.
Friend #2 has spent all morning compiling a list of all American stores and landmarks Google suggested and wants to visit them,
Friend #3 is still in bed and would rather spend the day relaxing the hotel spa
Friend # 4 is sick, and throwing up in the bathroom after eating the food you all urged her not to try yesterday
You just want to wander the streets.
With a group this big, it will be best to spit off into pairs or thug it out alone.
CHOOSE YOUR TRAVEL BUDDIES WISELY
While sarcastic humor and unpredictable behavior might be funny in certain situations at home, the last thing you want to do is bring a difficult person along with you. From my experience, the worst companion of all is the high maintenance complainer. They will complain that the plane food isn’t fresh enough, the train is too loud, the coffees are too small (the coffees are really small), the tapas in Spain don’t look like the ones at the Spanish restaurants back at home, and the prices of chocolate in Switzerland aren’t the same as the prices of Swiss Chocolate in Target. They will get on your last nerve.There is absolutely no room for bad energy or bad vibes so make sure you choose the friends that you are most compatible with.
*Pro-tip: Hang out with your friends on weekend get-aways numerous times before you finalize your travel group companions. Anything that slightly annoys you at home will be magnified to the 10th degree while traveling long term.
SIGN UP FOR GROUP ACTIVITIES
This might sound puzzling, traveling far with your best friends just to meet up with other people – but the world is full of different characters and personalities. Meet a few while you are in a foreign land. Use websites to find interest groups, meet up with them, and have a blast. This way you won’t feel guilty dragging a friend who was absolutely no interest in your favorite pastime.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
A fellow travel blogger explained:
“I occasionally try to deal with things by ignoring them into submission. Surprisingly, this does not actually work. When your travel buddy’s drinking habits, snide comments or refusal to try new things starts to wear on you – for the love of Pete, say something! Allowing things to build up will only make them worse and you’re much more likely to blow up and say things you don’t mean. Talk about it now, before you get all wound up and yucky about it.”
Truer words were never spoken on the subject. It is imperative to talk out any issues that arise as they arise. It may feel good at the moment to ignore small problems, but they will only snowball into a huge argument down the road. If you still want to be friends when you head home, talk it out like adults.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
If you can speak French, offer to be the French speaker while traveling through France. If you are naturally great with a map and can follow directions well, take charge and direct the group to the next destination. Everyone should contribute to the group one way or another.
THE SMALLER THE GROUP THE BETTER
Group travel can be fun for family reunions and destination weddings where the major activities are already planned, but traveling in pairs is best for vacationing. With only two or three people in your group, it is easier to plan daily activities, it takes a shorter time to get ready and you will have less people to keep tabs on.
What are some stories you have from friendcations?
Jelisa is passionate about inspiring fellow millennials to travel. Specifically, utilizing travel as an educational right rather than an elusive reward after long years of working. There are enriching lessons tucked into every corner of the world, and it can be accessed by less than a fraction of the national average college tuition. She firmly believes that life is best understood and dissected through travel, rather than in a classroom lecture. Follow her posts on her personal site.