“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
+ Traveling with friends can be an amazing bonding experience but also tough. Especially if it’s with a small group instead of just you and your BFF.
I went to Thailand with my very close friend Linda and then I went to Greece with three other female friends. It is much easier to go with one person (friend, family member, or significant other) than it is with a group of friends and you’re not just sitting around at a beach house.
Some tips when planning or traveling with a group of friends….
+ Be upfront and honest about money + expectations – especially in terms of lodging.
If you want hostels and your friend(s) wants 5-star boutique hotels, you’re gonna have a bad time. Discuss a realistic budget with some wiggle room in the beginning. Lodging, food, transportation, sightseeing, and spending money (alcohol, shopping, emergency funds)
+ Everybody contributes, voices their desires & makes suggestions during the planning phase. No input? Then no complaining about it on the trip!
+ Use Google Docs to plan your activities. Have a master spreadsheet with different tabs for the finances, lodging, restaurants we wanted to hit, activities and nightlife
+ Find time to meet for planning sessions (you’re gonna need a few of them) at someone’s house or a coffee shop with Wi-Fi and everybody brings a laptop. If not, take advantage of Google Hangouts
+ Use Splitwise: I love Splitwise. It is an app to track expenses amongst groups. Everybody gets paid back and you can easily figure out who owes who!
+ Everybody picks a few key activities or “must-dos” and the group works together to accommodate this BUT do not overload your itinerary. Leave a few hours here or there in a day or days for spontaneity.
+ Scour for hotels on websites like on Booking.com, Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com, and Jetsetter.com. Sometimes booking these nicer hotels with a group ends up being quite a steal. Airbnb is also another great + affordable alternative but I suggest staying for 1-2 nights since there is no maid service and sometimes needed on a vacation (especially with a few chicks or guys together).
+ I also recommend going on tripadvisor.com and look at the traveler’s photos to get a good idea of what the hotel room actually looks like vs. their professional photos.
+ Suggest solutions or ideas if there are any problems on your end. If someone is not happy with the hotel options given, find some hotels that do fit your budget and share your suggestions with everybody else.
+ Read up on the country’s culture & customs & share them with your travel friends.
// There is nothing more embarrassing than getting scolded at a temple or place of worship because your friend is wearing spaghetti straps or shorts. Nobody wants to look ignorant and well….like an idiot. Luckily, most of these places will have scarves or long skirts to borrow for free (or at least pay a small fee) to enter the place of worship.
+ Read up on any common money scams and warnings (such as the prevalence of pick-pocketing). I prefer to use wikivoyage.org to get a good introduction to the country.
WHILE ON THE TRIP:
+ Be flexible and compromise. A friendship is just like a relationship without the sex part. Give & Take! If you eat lunch late but your friend gets grumpy if he/she doesn’t eat at 11 am, give in and grab lunch too or at least find a place to grab a snack and go or relax and enjoy a beer or two.
+ Get alone time even if it’s just an hour or two. Don’t feel guilty about it either. Some of us just need some time to recharge and get away sometimes. It’s not personal.
+ Split up! Some friends might want to call it an early night while the others want to party till dawn and that’s ok. Just make sure everybody catches the bus, train, or flight the next day if needed – be mean about it if necessary in the morning to wake them up. If it’s during the day, arrange a time and place to meet up again and be prompt – especially if you guys aren’t using phones and text messaging in a foreign country.
+ Don’t be on the phone during meals. This is time to eat, drink, bond, and people watch together.
+ HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!