Several years ago, I celebrated a “significant” birthday in Paris with a dear friend who was also celebrating a birthday ending in zero. One of the more interesting things about our European adventure was that our spouses had planned the trip for us as a surprise, making hotel and flight reservations without our knowing or having input.
My friend and I had never taken a road trip together, much less shared a hotel room. The very idea that our husbands decided to put us on an airplane to enjoy eight nights in Paris based on their hunch we would be successful travel mates still boggles my mind. Thankfully and joyfully, they were correct! The only dicey moment was when someone mistook me for my friend’s mother. In honesty, I could not and should not blame my friend for the mistake, but she didn’t have to enjoy it so much.
We experienced the adventure of a lifetime together. But such is not always the case when traveling with friends. Our success as traveling companions showed me a few things that have me looking forward to more trips with friends. Here are a few tips I hope will help your travels with friends be more fun and less stressful:
Discuss your must-see destinations
Before you leave, make sure you have a conversation about your vacation goals; listen carefully to your companion’s wish list of priorities as well. Together develop an itinerary that takes into consideration all of your hopes and expectations for the trip. You may not be able to accomplish everything on the list, but at least you will both have offered input into the planning, allaying possible hard feelings before the trip starts.
Go with the flow
Know that things will not always go as planned. The more laid-back you can be when the unexpected happens, the more enjoyable the trip will be for everyone. And who knows—sometimes a wrong turn can lead to something better than the planned itinerary. When you are open for an unexpected adventure, it will find you. Being inflexible may result in missed opportunities as well as incite bad feelings among your travel companions.
Do not let bad thoughts fester. If you are unhappy about something, say it, but do so kindly and with respect. Talk it out. Better to resolve the matter quickly and not allow resentment to take root.
Every activity does not have to be done together. A little personal time for both of you makes the time you are together more enjoyable. Consider escaping for breakfast or for an afternoon stroll on your own—it will do wonders for your psyche and that of your friend.
Establish a general agreement on budget and what you are willing to spend. But do not fixate on money. Counting pennies to make sure you don’t pay more than your share of the cab fare is a downer. Don’t do it.
I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.