Traveling with friends always seems like a good idea. What’s not to like about getting away, sharing costs, and having a great time with people you like? Unfortunately in some cases, a friends getaway can be stressful and have a negative impact on the relationship when the trip is over. To help you travel with friends (or family) and avoid conflict, here are three simple things you should do before you book your friends trip.
In my experience the most important thing is to set and stick to expectations. If everyone is up front and honest with what’s important to them and their limitations, it’s much easier to avoid conflict and conflicts ugly cousin, resentment.
So, in no particular order, here are the three things you need to be clear about when traveling with friends:
- Vacation goals
- Food and extra expenses.
Finances are a tricky thing to discuss with friends but having that conversation before booking the getaway is important. Having a “total vacation budget” is crucial because it impacts the other things you need to be clear about. Total vacation budget isn’t limited to the cost of the resort of cruise plus airfare. In addition to those obvious expenses, your vacation budget should include activities or excursions, trip or vacation insurance, souvenirs, food, entertainment, and on location transportation. Having a clear (and realistic) budget — and being honest about it with others you’re traveling with — is key to avoiding frustration or uncomfortable situations while you’re away.
Vacation goals, what you’re hoping to get out of your vacation, is something to consider for every vacation, but especially when you’re traveling with friends. If your vacation goal includes relaxing days on the beach, under an umbrella, sand in your toes, reading your favorite book, and wandering toward the water to cool off and your friends want to sleep all day and spend all night in the clubs drinking and dancing you’re in for a stressful vacation. That, admittedly is an extreme example, but what if your vacation goal is to relax and unwind by the pool and the people you’re traveling with want to spend the days driving around town shopping in every store they can find? What if everyone else wants to play golf and you want to snorkel? In all these cases, if you’re not clear about your vacation goals, someone is going to have to miss out on important things, feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing, or be disappointed when everyone does their own thing. All of these things lead to frustration and resentment if they’re not discussed before leaving.
Connected to total vacation budget is discussing food, transfers (car service, Uber, etc.), and rental cars if applicable. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or cruising food is less of a concern (although even resorts and cruises have “premium dining options”). If food isn’t included in your reservation or meal plans are optional, be clear on how often you want to pay for meals. If there’s no meal plan and one person goes on vacation expecting to eat out three times a day while the other one prefers to get groceries to make sandwiches in the room two out of three meals, it’s another opportunity to add stress and frustration to your vacation. Same thing with transfers and rental cars. Be clear with your travel companions about what you’re willing to spend money on and what your expectations are. You don’t want to be the person paying for everyone to ride in an Uber or the person forced to pay for your share of an Uber if you would have been comfortable taking the public bus or just staying on the beach.
Here’s a bonus tip: be honest with yourself (if not the other person!) about who you are most likely to get along with on a vacation. Everyone has friends they get along with for a few hours or a couple days but find frustrating for an extended period of time. When you’re traveling with friends, make sure you choose people you know you’ll have the most fun with and with whom you’re most likely to get along.
Follow these suggestions when you’re traveling with friends and you’ll have the fun vacation you want and deserve! Need help planning your next vacation? Call Joel at 844-483-6669.