Just picture it: You and one of your closest friends are having an amazing adventure as you make your way from one exotic destination to another. You spend your mornings drinking coffee together as you plan your day. Evenings are spent laughing over a well-deserved pint of beer as you recount the day’s experiences. Sounds pretty amazing, right? Travel is an amazing experience, and it can be even better when you’re traveling with friends!
Trips like this can sometimes take a lot of work and some very careful planning to make sure they go as planned (or not as planned but that is simply part of the experience!). Traveling with friends can either be the trip of a lifetime or a living nightmare, so you must be respectful and patient and have an open mind both before, during, and after your adventure.
The Adventure Travel Journal, Your Faithful Companion
Traveling with friends can be a life-changing experience. We’re here to help you make the trip even more memorable! The Adventure Travel Journal can help you and your besties plan your trip and record memories. Keep track of your itinerary, come up with a packing list, jot down notes, and make good use of over 40 engaging journal prompts to create a living scrapbook of your journey together. When you return, you’ll be able to flip through the pages for years to come!
How to Travel with Friends
We know that traveling with friends can be challenging, especially if this is your first time going on a trip together. Maybe you’re used to solo travel and aren’t quite sure what to expect from a group trip. Luckily, our team of in-house travel experts has spent decades traveling with old friends, new friends, and everyone in between. And we’ve used our experiences to put together a list of tips and tricks for you!
Traveling with someone you don’t know super well? Or did you receive a last-minute invitation for a weekend getaway with a group of people you’ve known for years? Either way, these travel tips will help you navigate the good times and the bad. We’ll help you and your travel buddies have the best travel experience possible!
Choose your travel companions wisely.
In the words of Mark Twain, “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.” He couldn’t have been more accurate if he tried! Traveling with other people tells you a lot about them. It can often make or break friendships. As much as we would love the statement “friends that travel together, stay together” to be true, this isn’t always the case.
Even if you have known your bestie for decades, traveling with them is very different than normal, everyday life. You will see people’s good sides and bad sides, and the things that normally never bothered you can suddenly drive you crazy when you’re together 24/7. This is one of the many reasons it’s really important for you to choose your travel companions wisely.
Your best friend in the entire world may not be a great travel partner for you. The bad experiences you have with each other can have long-term consequences on your relationship. Simply put, if the trip goes poorly, you may even end up losing that friend forever.
When you’re thinking about traveling together, there are a few things you should discuss to see if you’re a good match. Try not to be hurt if one of your friends decides they don’t want to travel with you after you’ve discussed what your plans are and what type of budget you have. Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, it can actually help protect your friendship in the long run.
Make sure your travel styles and expectations match.
One of the most important parts of choosing your travel companions is making sure your travel styles AND your travel expectations match. For example, one of you may be looking forward to a relaxing beach vacation in the Maldives where you can get away from the world. Another person may be wanting to test their limits by going on great adventures where they spend their days hiking through the Amazon jungle or rappelling off a cliff.
While these are definitely two awesome bucket list trips you can do with friends, it may be a little difficult to combine them into one trip without some careful planning. This doesn’t mean these two travel styles can’t mesh. But it does mean the trip needs to incorporate two different travel styles.
For example, you could go hiking to Colombia’s Lost City and follow it up with a few days spent exploring the beautiful old town of Cartagena and relaxing on the nearby beaches. There has to be a balance. Everyone should feel like their needs and expectations are met. Otherwise, you may end up experiencing a lot of friction and resentment during the trip.
Be honest about the type of traveler you are.
When you’re deciding whether or not you should travel together, be honest about the type of traveler you actually are. It’s easy to say you’re laid back and love to try new things when you’re sitting at home. But this may be a completely different story when you’re out on the road and out of your comfort zone. If you have a feeling your friend is looking for a different experience than what you feel comfortable with, it’s better for both of you if you say this early on. Don’t just move forward with the travel planning and hope for the best!
This is also true if you have any unique habits you think may impact the travel experience. This could be anything like wanting to take naps throughout the day to having some interesting beauty or bathroom regimens you do each day. It may feel a little embarrassing to talk about. But people generally appreciate an honest friend, and this gives them an idea of what to expect.
For example, I traveled with a friend who would take around three hours to get out the door in the morning. For the first few days of our trip, this was driving me crazy—I really wanted to get out and explore! I ended up changing my routine: I slept in a little later, went for a run, grabbed breakfast, and was back in time for her to be finishing getting ready. It worked well, but I wish I had known early on what to expect.
Choose your accommodation wisely.
Even if you aren’t planning on spending a huge amount of time in your hotel room, the accommodation you stay in shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you choose accommodation that doesn’t allow for a great night’s sleep (aka party hostels, budget hotels located on noisy streets, etc), it may make everyone a little grumpy the next day. As a result, everything could feel harder.
Keep your eyes peeled when reading reviews about properties (even 5-star hotels!). Check that the beds are comfortable, that it isn’t overly noisy, and that there is enough space in the room to feel comfortable. In my travels with friends, we’ve been stuck next to nightclubs, had hostel mates that snored like trains, and even endured hours of amorous couples who seemed to have an endless amount of energy. All of these things can lead to a horrible night and an even worse day.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends, you may want to consider renting a large Airbnb. Many of the larger Airbnbs offer all of the amenities of a home. This can make handling the logistics easier since you’re all in one place. You don’t need to waste precious time waiting for one another in the lobby of the hotel. And you can easily cook your own meals, which saves you additional time throughout the day since you don’t have to search around for a restaurant.
Be especially careful when it comes to the bathrooms.
If you’ve been traveling in the US a lot in the past decade, you may have noticed that the new trend for many hotels is to offer “open plan” rooms where the bathrooms and toilets are separated from the rest of the room by windows and glass doors. While this is a great way to make the room look bigger, it is far from ideal when you’re traveling with friends or a romantic partner.
Although it may not seem like a big deal when you’re booking your rooms, the lack of privacy for… ahem… bathroom matters can get annoying quickly, especially if you don’t feel comfortable “getting down to business” in front of someone else. You may also discover that your friends have some slightly odd bathroom habits that you didn’t want to know about.
When you’re choosing your accommodation, look closely at the bathroom photos to try to figure out if the bathrooms are secluded from the rest of the room. If you notice this is the case, double-check that your friends are okay with it, even if it doesn’t bother you. They may not be happy about the peek-a-boo bathroom, and this could put unnecessary stress on your trip, especially if you have to change accommodations last minute.
Schedule in some alone time.
Have you ever heard the saying that distance makes the heart grow fonder? This couldn’t be more accurate when you’re traveling together and spending some time apart. Doing your own thing can give you time to reflect on everything you’ve seen and all of the experiences you’ve had. If the trip is going well, it will also likely help you appreciate all of the quality time you get to spend together.
Traveling with friends doesn’t mean you have to be together all of the time. In fact, it’s a good idea to schedule some alone time during which everyone gets to do their own thing for a few hours (even for a few days if you’re traveling together long term). True friends will understand how important this is for everyone’s sanity. If there is someone upset about being alone, try to figure out why. There is likely to be something more going on that they may want to talk about.
Talk about money before the trip.
Everyone has different travel budgets, so it’s important to discuss this when you start planning your trip. If someone in the group doesn’t have the same amount of money to spend on the vacation, you need to decide relatively early on if you’re going to want to keep it budget-friendly, help your friend cover the costs, or maybe decide if it’s probably better to have the budget-conscious friend sit this one out.
It’s likely to feel pretty uncomfortable when you have this initial conversation. But it will definitely save the other person from the stress of overspending money that they don’t have. Everyone else will be spared forgoing the kind of vacation they want
Make sure everyone is involved in the planning.
When you’re planning a trip with friends, it’s easy for one person to take charge and plan the entire trip. It’s also easy for everyone else just to step back and let them do it. Unfortunately, this can lead to one person’s interests dominating the entire trip. Others may feel like they aren’t having the vacation they imagined.
If you’re the person doing the majority of the planning, include everyone and their opinions when putting together the final itinerary. Like many of the things on this list, that will help reduce tension later on and can help ensure everyone gets to do the things they want. If you can’t figure out a way to include something, make sure to explain why. Don’t forget about that precious free time!
Be open to changes or suggestions.
If you’ve been doing the majority of the planning, don’t forget to be open to changes and suggestions. We know the trip can begin to feel like your baby, which makes it hard to accept other people’s ideas. However, keep in mind that it’s their trip—they’re also spending their hard-earned money on it. Even if you think things won’t work logistically, hear them out. A good friend listens, and they may have some ideas on how to fit everything in that works even better than what you had in mind!
Try not to overdo it.
If you’re the type of person who loves filling every minute of your vacation with fun activities and sightseeing, that’s awesome. More power to you! Unfortunately, not everyone is like that, and many people need to have some downtime throughout the day, especially if you’re traveling as part of a big group.
Even if you have a long bucket list of things you want to do during the trip, try not to overschedule your day. Things always go wrong when you’re traveling (which is part of the fun!). If you don’t leave a little bit of wiggle room in your schedule, you may end up having to cut out things that people were looking forward to doing. Scheduling just one or two things a day makes it much easier to see the most important things on your bucket list without making everyone stressed out about timing.
Avoid hangry-ness at all costs.
Most people love to eat. But people also tend to get grumpy when they don’t get to eat when they want to. We’ve probably all experienced being with a group of people that can’t agree on what they want to eat. So instead of just sitting down somewhere, you walk around from place to place, checking out menus, getting more hungry and annoyed by the minute.
When you’re traveling with a group of close friends or one of your favorite travel buddies, it’s best to avoid hangry-ness at all costs. Start the day off right by eating a filling breakfast. You can then schedule meal times and have a rough idea as to where you want to eat. You can even make a tentative plan at the beginning of the day about when and where you will grab lunch and dinner. That way, everyone will be on the same page and can snack accordingly.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
When you’re traveling with friends, it’s natural to want to let your hair down a bit, especially if you’re in a new city or country. However, it’s a good idea to try and limit the amount of alcohol you consume. Even the best group of friends may have some skeletons hiding in their closets, and the last thing you want is for some of these to come tumbling out when you’re on a European getaway or an All-American road trip together.
Besides, it’s probably not very likely that the hangover you have the following day was worth the night out. If you absolutely must get out for a night out on the town, try to drink at least one glass of water for every serving of alcohol. Keep in mind that you may also be experiencing slight dehydration if you’ve been out in the sun or at the beach all day. You’ll have to drink even more water to compensate!
Don’t leave anyone out.
When it comes to group travel, there’s a strong chance someone is going to feel left out. During your next trip, try to make an effort to ensure everyone feels included. This is true even if you’re traveling with your best friend and one or two other people. At the end of the day, everyone is spending their time and money to travel together, and one person shouldn’t have to feel left out.
Don’t spend all your time posting about the trip on social media.
We probably all have that one friend who spends an entire vacation either posting about the trip on social media or asking for people to take photos of them that they will later post on social media. Whether you’re spending the weekend in New York or backpacking together through Southeast Asia, don’t be that person. Instead, savor the experience, and enjoy the time you get to spend with your friends. Chances are that they are much more important to you than some random people that follow you on TikTok or Instagram. So don’t make them feel they’re playing second fiddle to some virtual friends of yours.
So, Are You Ready to Roam?
We hope this list of tips for traveling with friends has left you inspired to explore with your favorite travel buddies. Hit the road with a full tank of gas for the ultimate group trip! Don’t worry too much about having a bad time. After some honest discussion about expectations, your friends will still be good company. And the togetherness you share will be so rejuvenating!
Want to secure a rental car and test the waters? Check out “Planning the Perfect Road Trip With Friends” to see how things go! And when you’re sure you’ve hit a groove, consider “17 Fun Trips to Take With Friends!”
If you want to read more awesome travel articles, head over to the Let’s Roam Explorer blog. This amazing resource is full of hundreds of destination guides, must-see lists, and blog posts that will help make travel planning a breeze!
Frequently Asked Questions
When you’re traveling with friends, it’s important to be respectful and patient. Try to keep an open mind throughout all parts of the trip. Everyone is different and travels in their own unique way!
If you’re debating whether or not you want to travel with friends, think about the travel styles of everyone in the group and their budgets. If these are very different, traveling together may be hard.
Traveling with friends can be an amazing experience, especially if your travel styles and expectations match. Talk openly before you decide whether or not you will travel together to avoid problems.
Everyone has their own style and expectations when it comes to group travel. For the best results, be honest and open about what you expect. And bring along a travel journal to document the experience!