What this should really be titled is “How to Travel with Friends and Still be Friends When You Arrive Home” – but I thought that was a little aggressive.
Traveling is always an amazing experience, but as the saying goes “it doesn’t matter where you are, but it’s who you’re with that really matters.” Sure. I buy into that. But when it comes to traveling with friends, both take high priority. Sometimes your best friends are great travel buddies; however, everyone likes to travel differently. Sometimes your favorite travel buddies might not be your best friends. When it comes down to it though traveling with your friends is such a unique experience that definitely requires some planning.
First, size matters…😏
…SIZE OF THE GROUP PEOPLE!! I’ve found smaller groups work best. I’ve travelled in giant groups with over 30 students, I’ve travelled with one other person, and I’ve travelled with groups anywhere in between. What’s important is to find a group of people with similar travel styles. Some friends might be more into sightseeing, while others are more into hanging out and getting a more local feel for a new location. All traveling styles are amazing! While you can’t always pick and choose how your friends like to travel, it’s important to make sure everyone is interested in the same types of activities or at least that everyone’s traveling needs are met. For this reason, I feel that smaller groups are best. Other than in the photo above (we all were the perfect travel buddies!!!), I’d recommend group sizes of about 5 or smaller. Obviously if your friend group is six or more people, you’re going to have a great time too!! I just feel like the planning stages of a trip are so much easier with fewer people.
Second, picking the location
Now that you’ve got your group of friends together and everyone is committed to a trip, how do you pick a place to go? When I was traveling around Europe, my friends and I tended to pick the places with the cheapest flights and/or cheapest accommodations. If you have a bigger budget, try putting everyone’s top destinations in a hat and literally just pick one. If you have a consistent group of friends you like to travel with, take turns going to each person’s top destination. The possibilities are truly endless and where ever you don’t get to this time around will make a great option for your next adventure. You can always try my very inefficient method of sending photos of the destination to your friends daily. Annoying yet occasionally effective.
Third, organizing flights/accommodations/things to do and see
I found that dividing up the responsibilities is the most painless way of traveling with friends. This way, everyone is involved with the planning, so no one is too overwhelmed with the details. So, for a group of let’s say three: Have one person be in charge of transportation, one person in charge of your accommodations, and one person be in charge of your itinerary.
For the person in charge of transportation, she will make sure to know they best way to get to and from the airport and will book any arrangements that need to be made ahead of time. She will also know the best way to get around wherever you are going (is everything walkable? what’s public transportation like? etc. etc.). If you’re going to be taking the subway or some other form of public transportation, I’d recommend this person has a copy of the subway lines on their phone. Everyone should really have a copy of this if you don’t have cell service tbh.
The person in charge of your accommodations will be the one to book everything and keep up with check in and check out times. Whenever I’ve travelled, we found it was cheaper for us all as a group to stay in Airbnb’s, so this person would be in charge of talking with the host and whatnot.
Finally, the person in charge of the itinerary will be the one who ensures that everyone sees and does what they want on the trip. I’m personally someone who wants to see specific places when I am visiting a new place; however, I also prefer to have a flexible schedule. Obviously if people in your group want to do very different things and you are under a tight time schedule, split up! You all don’t need to be attached at the hip; however, I find that the fun of traveling with friends is sharing experiences. What I have done in the past is before the trip I will have everyone send me all the various places they want to see and the different things they want to do. From there, I will map everything out on a personal Google Map. This way, everyone is happy because we will hit all the major points of interest for each traveller. Check out my Budapest Vlog (9:10) to see my traumatic (too extreme?) experience in the creepy Buda Castle Labyrinth. Needless to say, I was not the one who voted to go into the dark and damp tunnels, but it was a memorable moment to say the least.
Fourth, how to manage finances between the group
VENMO! Don’t have it? Download the app. Your monetary issues are now solved.
Flights: buy yourself
Accommodations: pay whoever booked your hotel/hostel/airbnb back immediately after they pay for it (if you choose to drop out of the trip you are financially responsible for backing down on your commitment).
Expenses on the Trip: Pay for as much of your individual expenses as you can by yourself (food, activities, souvenirs). However sometimes that is unavoidable like at restaurants or somewhere with one check. Just keep a tally in the notepad on your phone of what you owe each friend and how much each friend owes you. That way, both friends are held responsible and money won’t become an issue. Then, Venmo everyone accordingly at the end of the day, or depending on the duration, at the end of your trip.
Finally, be flexible and have a blast!
This is a bit of a no brainer, but I believe still needs to be said. You’re traveling with your friends!! What an amazing experience!! Traveling should be an enjoyable experience and creating so many amazing memories with your friends. If it’s your first time traveling with your friends, remember everyone has different comfort zones, priorities, and financial budgets. Be flexible and live in the moment!! Trust me, you’ll be realizing you were back traveling with your friends the second you return back home. ❤️