I spent 10 amazing days in beautiful Grenada with two of my most amazing friends and not once did I want to tip toe into the kitchen to grab something sharp and “accidentally” drop it on one of their pillows as they slept…lol. Grenada was one of my most favorite places I’ve traveled to so far and I had an unbelievably great time but what made it even better was the people I went with. But traveling with friends doesn’t always have a happy ending. I’ve had some moments in my lifetime where I wanted to stick my companions in checked luggage zipped tightly so not a stitch of air came through…lol. Ugh. Bad traveling experiences can make you feel like you wasted your hard-earned money and make you feel super uncomfortable—who wants that when you’re so many miles away from home? Not me! So I decided to write a post on how I manage to keep my cool and my friendships while traveling. Because while it’s cool to do some things by yourself (I love doing tons of things solo) sometimes it’s so much better to travel with friends and be with your homies.
1. The most important part of traveling successfully with friends is….
Yes, you. It’s all in the attitude YOU bring to the table. You need to go on that trip with an open mind and prepare to be flexible. Be willing to compromise. Be willing to calm the eff down before things escalate—why would things need to escalate—you’re on vacation! You’re traveling somewhere fun—why are you so angry anyway? LOL
No really, how YOU react to a situation is what affects the outcome. Trust me. I went on a trip where people were driving me crazy but I decided I didn’t want to mess up my trip nor theirs so when I reached my boiling point, I went to another room to decompress and vent to a third party. After that I was okay and back to having fun.
2. Yeah, it’s you but it’s also who you travel with, too.
We all have heard at some point that you have friends you can travel with and those you can’t. This is true. For instance if financial situations differ, this can cause certain situations to escalate. But as I’m getting older I have fewer people I genuinely call friends and as one person pointed out to me “I don’t worry about friends I can or can’t travel with—I’m not friends with people I can’t travel with.” That’s SO true. If you can’t spend three days or more sharing a space with someone, how on earth can you share your most intimate details of your life with that same person? (I’m talking friendships here—relationships are a whole other thing and as I’m single as the day is long, I don’t feel I have enough experience to talk on relationships…lol).
So what I’m saying here is not only deeply evaluate whether or not a friend travels well, but also deeply evaluate why that person is in your life in the first place. But even still, it all goes back to YOU and what energy YOU bring. I can honestly see myself going on a trip with someone I’m not that close with and still having a great time because I know how I am.
Hiking in Lake Placid with Nas
3. Keep finances separate when you can.
Girl, the quickest way to a fight is over some coins. I personally do not care how many people say it’s the right thing to do, but I DO NOT LIKE if I’m only ordering something small in a group setting and everyone else is ordering a gazillion drinks and when the bill comes talmbout splitting it evenly. That grinds my gears like you wouldn’t even know…lol. Luckily amongst my friends everyone is on the “every woman for herself” line of thinking when it comes to the bill. Or if it’s pretty close (I’m not going to complain over a few bucks) then I’m totally cool with splitting it evenly.
But when you’re traveling internationally, there’s things like currency conversion, VAT, and of course gratuity if it’s not already included and if you’re in a country that accepts gratuity. Try to get separate bills or carry cash on you so you can pay exactly what you owe and be done. I’m cool with paying for one meal and then having my friend/s take care of the next one. Drinks in Grenada were SO cheap I threw down my card like I was a baller and paid for everyone’s drinks one night without blinking…lol. More on that in my Grenada recap. And I’m also good about taking the bill myself every now and then if I can, but don’t order 5 drinks and all I had was a salad and talmbout let’s just split it..lol.
When it comes to paying for things like hotel and other stuff, I say if there’s more than two of you, have the most responsible person be in charge of collecting money. I’ve had situations where people went silent the second it was time to pay for big ticket items and it can be super frustrating (those are the types whose role in your life you question…lol). But what would be most ideal is to have everyone pay individually and directly. This last trip everyone was coming from different places at different times so we of course paid individually and directly to the airline, etc. We stayed at Nas’ grandmother’s house so what we paid towards utilities and such was again paid directly and individually. I personally feel the less you have to mix funds, the better.
But when you do have to pool money in the case of hotels and such, I say come up with an agreement upfront. Know exactly how much each person needs to pay and when it needs to be in. Have everyone agree to this (hate to say this but get it in writing if you have to) from the beginning and then use something like PayPal or Chase Quick Pay to pool funds.
4. Plan your itinerary in advance.
We all like to do different things and there may be some things someone in your group may not want to participate in and that’s PERFECTLY FINE. Planning your itinerary in advance allows for you to plan activities you can all do together and then plan things you may want to do separately (when safe) and in the case of bigger groups be able to pair off. Planning in advance also helps everyone visualize the trip and plan accordingly.
5. Keep the lines of communication open.
One time I went on a trip where someone was so adamant about not having any quarrels or complaining that they failed to communicate when something was justifiably wrong and that actually made things worse. It’s okay to speak up if something’s wrong but remain respectable. Instead of saying something like “YOU’RE RUINING MY TRIP!!!” say something like “I was looking forward to doing some shopping on this trip and since we spent so much time site-seeing yesterday, I thought we could head to a mall today.” It’s all in HOW you communicate which I feel isn’t something practiced enough in friendships or just regular female interaction.
6. Have separate spaces when you can.
I don’t mind sharing but I much prefer to have my own space. When it comes to shorter trips I don’t mind sharing a room—in fact the last bunch of domestic trips I took with friends we shared hotel rooms and it worked but mostly because these were short—no more than 2-3 day trips. For longer trips always try to have your own room if you can afford it or look at alternate accommodations. Four of us went to Barbados earlier this year and stayed in a 2-bedroom condo with a full living room that was less expensive than a hotel and allowed for us to have our own separate living quarters for the time we were there. In Grenada we each had our own rooms as well. I highly suggest having your own space when possible.
After I came up with these I started to draw a blank so I asked my girls to add their thoughts.
Tips from my girls:
(my comments are in brackets)
*Understand that not everyone is going to want to do everything together so it’s okay to pair off or allow some quiet time. [I —meaning me, Danielle…lol—knew in advance of the trip that Nas and Marie LOVE going to the beach and I didn’t as much so I brought along a book so I could pass the time. Turned out I got turned out over the beaches in Grenada and loved it as much as they did—this is why it’s important to keep an open mind–you might find something new about yourself.]
*Travel with friends that have similar vacation goals (i.e. relaxation vs tons of site-seeing) [Yes, SUPER important—I once went on a short trip with a friend who went to bed at like 9:30/10 every night and I wanted to go out—talk about awkward]
*For long trips travel with friends you’ve had a previous trip trial run with—if you cannot work for 3 days, 2 nights then 10 days might be hell [TRUE. Try a road trip first before you go to say a 15-day excursion to Australia]
*Try to come up with a flexible budget beforehand so no unexpected expenses come up [Yep. Like if there’s some really nice but really expensive restaurant you MUST try, keep some extra funds on hand just in case—I’ve gone on press trips when I was DEAD broke but I had expenses paid for me but I could never go on a friends trip without some extra funds on hand]
*Understand everyone has different finances when it comes to choosing restaurants, hotels, etc. [So true—try to compromise or stalk Groupon or Living Social type sites for deals where you all can meet in the middle]
*When traveling in groups try to plan at least a few activities where everyone should attend to keep the trip cohesive. [Yep—otherwise why did you all go to the same place at the same time? lol]
With Nas in Chicago
Traveling is such a rewarding experience and doesn’t have to get messy when you travel with friends. Did I miss any tips? Tell me in the comments! Also share your travel experiences with your friends (good or bad) in the comments below!