We missed our flight on our first overseas trip together. That was our first test of friendship. She passed with flying colors and till date, I consider her my best travel companion. I was fortunate to have found a good travel friend in her.
My friend, however, was recounting her frustrations to me recently about her latest travel with friends. Hearing her stories, it brought back memories of my own travels with other friends.
I will admit that I’m not always the easiest person to travel with but there will certainly be moments when you get frustrated or annoyed with your travel friends when you are constantly in each other’s company.
After travelling with so many different friends, I have my own set of rules that I go by to minimise any stress during my travels due to travel companions.
Rule 1: Manage your expectations in advance
One of the mistakes that I learnt early on is not finding out each others’ expectations. Not everyone will have similar interests. Each person may expect different things from the same trip, be it shopping or adventure or food. So knowing what the other is expecting helps in that you are prepared for detours or some compromise along the way.
For myself, I always make sure I let my friends know that I need to travel by my budget before even making any arrangements. So if they are not comfortable with the budget that I have set, I always tell them to just go ahead without me.
Rule 2: Communication is the key.
Of course, this is an essential part of travelling together. When you are having fun and all is well, you would expect this to be the least of your problems. Unfortunately, when things go wrong on your travels, you will soon realise the importance of listening and respecting each other. Each will have their own opinion but you must also be able to communicate your opinion.
I had a friend who was struggling with the pace that I had set for the trip but she did not mention anything to me until after the trip. I would have definitely gone about things differently now.
Rule 3: Share the Responsibility.
I’m guilty of violating this all the time because I can be pretty stubborn on handling all aspects of planning the trip. However, I have found that this is a good compromise when travelling because it cuts down on the stress of arguing. When one is given responsibility, the load and stress of planning for a trip is shared among us.
My friends can be more capable in a certain language so it is more convenient to leave communication to them while I deal with other aspects such as logistics. If they had arranged for our accommodations, for example, I leave it to them to settle any issues that arise from it.
Rule 4: Be Willing to Compromise.
I believe this is the most important ingredient of surviving a travel with friends. I cannot stress how important it is to compromise when travelling with friends. Travelling with friends is not always perfect. You may get pissed off with your friends, you may argue with them when travelling. Ultimately, you will need to learn to compromise.
In each of my travel partners, I have always had to learn on the go and adjust myself to their needs just as they do with me. I have had to learn to tone down my stubbornness and to listen to others. I have learnt to focus on the bigger picture and compromise rather than nitpick on small things.
Rule 5: Be considerate.
When travelling with friends, it’s not just about you. Since you are constantly in each others’ company, a little consideration goes a long way to surviving the trip with your friends.
If you are an early riser, learn to keep the noise to a minimum until your travel companion is awake. Small things like these can annoy your friends while travelling. I know that I take ages in the shower so I usually ensure I wake up slightly earlier. It allows my friend to sleep in and not waste time waiting for me to finish.
On the other hand, I have also travelled with a friend who is both a late sleeper and takes ages to get ready. I ended up waiting so long for her I got frustrated and annoyed.
Rule 6: Allow some ‘Me’ time.
In my opinion, this goes a long way towards resolving some of the issues with my friends. However, not everyone is open to such an arrangement because not everyone is comfortable with travelling on their own so they may end up compromising a lot on the trip.
I have been travelling for the longest time with a particular friend of mine because we both have no problems going off on a separate itinerary for the day. We would just meet up back at the hostel/ hotel at the end of the day. However, I have also travelled with others who prefer to go together at all times.
Alternatively, one can also arrange for a separate meeting point rather than drag everyone along on a shopping trip if not everyone is willing to do. I have done this a few times as I have no patience for long endless shopping.
I’m pretty sure there are many more tips that others go by but these have played well for me so far. Not that it has always been smooth sailing but I have managed not to spoil any of my holidays because of travelling with friends. So far, so good!! 🙂
Do you have any other tips or stories about your travel companion? Please do share, I would love to hear from you!