As the Bieber warbles on about “Can We Still Be Friends?” and you and your posse enthusiastically sings along while driving into the sunset into a destination that “everybody” agreed on but was definitely only strongly suggested by one, you look around and wonder if you will still all like each other when the adrenaline of this “great idea of spending time” wears off.
When a friend(s) suggests going somewhere, my stomach clenches and I get filled with anxious thoughts. Especially if it is someone I have never traveled with before. I would like to think my spirit animal is the river, always going with the flow. But it is really more of a neurotic beaver swimming against the current.
The good thing is I have traveled with friends since I was a teenager and despite the drama that happens along the way, we have always come out of the experience intact–our teeth, weaves, and all 😉
So how do I survive travel with friends? How does our friendship withstand the differing personalities and once-cute-but-suddenly-irritating-habits?
I am kidding. You do. Well, maybe come out of it a different person. But really.
PLAN. COME TOGETHER. SCRATCH THE PLAN. PLAN SOME MORE. GET TOGETHER AGAIN. GOSSIP A LITTLE BIT. FORGET THE PLAN. GO BACK TO THE PLAN. CROSS YOUR FINGERS AND TOES THAT IT ALL WORKS OUT.
Well, that was probably how my first grown-up trip with a friend came together. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. But we did plan another one the year after and now it has become a yearly girl’s getaway. So it probably says a lot with how that first trip ended.
What did we learn?
- Know the area you are going.
Wait. Where is the spontaneity? The excitement of getting lost? Well down the drain with “I ain’t got time for that!”. When you only have a few days to spare, you want to nail what you want out of the trip close to the head. So do your research.
- Friends who are living in the area already
- Any blog you get your tips from or stumbled into while Googling “what to eat in the middle of nowhere”.
2. Each of you have to make a list of “must sees/dos” and “would love to see/do”.
The length of the list depends of course on how long your vacay is. This is not the time to wish you have more time to “bond”. Be realistic about your list and the time you actually have. Nothing makes planning more excruciating than someone who wants to see “errthing” over 2 days.
3. Get together and identify common areas in your “must sees/dos” and “would love to see/do”.
Hopefully you have enough to make this a trip you do together rather than “let’s meet up for lunch” or “the next day.”
Hopefully your friendship survives this part so you can actually have the trip.
This one is intended to give everyone a voice. To spare the Type A personalities the stress of having to plan everything. And to give the Type B personalities accountability for something at least once in their life.
4. Plot your “must sees/do” from your temporary area of residence.
Put in an expected time of arrival or completion for your must sees so everyone has an idea when they are expected to be ready.
Include your “would love to see/do” too.
Google Maps is your friend (Thanks to my friend Jenyl for this great idea).
5. Don’t say no to spin-offs from the original plan.
Remember, these are only suggestions. You have to let humor, lady luck and your sense of adventure take the lead. This is a vacation and not a field trip where you have to write a 10 page paper afterwards.
Tip: We liked packing in a lot of “must sees/do” in the first few days. This allowed us to relax during the later part of our trip, check if we can do some of our “love to see/do” in the areas we find ourselves in and wind down for departure. We get to talk about the highlights of our trip, maybe do some shopping and immerse a little bit more with the local crowd.
So how do you survive a trip with friends?