How to travel with a friend and keep your BFF status (and sanity)

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Being friends with someone and traveling with someone are two entirely different things. Hanging out, even on a regular basis, doesn’t give you the same insight into a person as traveling with them can. Whether it’s a road trip, a backpacking adventure or a week on a tropical beach somewhere, jetting off with a BFF can be great fun, but it also has the potential to test your friendship. If you’re planning to go on vacation with a friend, there are ways to make sure it all runs smoothly. We’ve put together a helpful guide to keeping your sanity while vacationing with a pal.

Before you book

How to travel with a friend and keep your BFF status (and sanity)
Lauren Hilifinger, Roomies via Flickr CC BY 1.0

Think long and hard about who you want to travel with and why. It’s important that your travel companion is someone you already know pretty well and have already spent time with in a variety of situations – so not just the person you go for brunch with once a month, the new friend you just met at work or the person you’ve never actually seen outside of a bar. Knowing a person well before you go and having an idea about their moods, what sets them off, etc. can make a huge difference when it comes to having a compatible trip.

Before you leave

Sure, there’s the packing and the planning and the excitement since vacations are awesome, but there are a few important things to discuss before you leave.

How to travel with a friend and keep your BFF status (and sanity)
Matthias Ripp, Travelling via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Budget: Big spenders and thrifty travelers don’t always mix. If you’re more of a spontaneous, “YOLO” kind of person who doesn’t mind splurging now and again, but your travel pal is going to want to pinch pennies you could hit some snags. So before you go establish a budget that you’re both comfortable with.

Type of trip: What is the goal of this trip? Total relaxation? Eating your way around a city? Whirlwind sightseeing? If the two of you have different ideas of what the trip will entail friction could arise. It’s important that your overall goal for the trip matches that of your co-traveler so no one gets upset when their expectations aren’t met. You don’t have to want exactly the same things, but it’ll make your vacation easier if what you want out of the trip is similar.

Deal breakers: There are certain aspects to everyone’s personality that should be disclosed before spending an extended amount of time with someone else. These include whether or not you are a morning person (or you need at least two coffees before you are verbal). Or whether you go to bed late or early. Traveling with a party animal when you go to bed at 9:15 p.m. every night will become a problem. Air any potentially grievances before you go so you know what you’re dealing with.

What to expect

How to travel with a friend and keep your BFF status (and sanity)
Giuseppe Milo, Piz Arlara – Trentino Alto Adige, Italy via Flickr CC BY 2.0

If you’ve chosen your travel companion wisely and you’ve established that you have similar visions for your trip things should roll along smoothly. But surprises invariably happen. To ride any waves without losing your friendship footing we suggest the following:

  • Know that at some point one person will get tired and cranky. We all do, but this is especially the case when traveling. Don’t sweat it and don’t take it personally.
  • Expect that even if you do have the same trip goals there will be things that you want to do that your friend doesn’t and vice versa. That’s OK and totally natural – you don’t need to be attached at the hip. It’s good to split up from time to time.
  • Expect to learn new things about the person you’re traveling with. Expect to like some of these discoveries and not like others. No one is perfect, but ultimately, the more you learn about someone the closer your relationship can get.

Avoiding fights

Image: iStock © Ondine32 Photo: 68738713
Image: iStock © Ondine32  

No matter how close you and your co-traveler are there’s a good chance an argument will come up. Spending an extended amount of time with someone will do that to even the closest BFFs, but all-out brawls can be avoided.

Communicate: Remember that friends can’t read each other’s minds. If you have a beef, air it out rather than waiting for your travel companion to figure it out. The more you stew the bigger the chances of a fight later on.

Be honest: If the thought of going to an all-night rave on the beach with strangers you just met at a café turns you off, say so. Going and then moping while you’re there will only make matters worse.

Compromise: OK fine, she dragged you to the rave and it was OK, but now you’re kind of tired. But you went because you knew it would make her happy. That’s called compromise. Now maybe today she’ll go with you to that museum exhibit you’ve been trying to drag her to. Traveling together is all about give and take and compromise will keep  you both happy.

Featured image: iStock © Ondine32  

How to travel with a friend and keep your BFF status (and sanity) was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Jessica Padykula
Author: Jessica Padykula (91 posts)

Jessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.