May 27, 2014

Six Tips for Traveling with Friends

Have you ever heard a quote that immediately captured you? It just spoke directly to you, like it was written about your life? That happened to me when I was studying abroad in Spain with my best friend, Megan. Here it is:

The quote made a lasting impression on me, and sometimes I like to envision my life written out on the pages of a book, the best chapters earmarked, like ragged pages because they've been loved so much. 

If you were to go pick up my book and read one of my favorite chapters, it might be about my time in Spain with my best friend, Megan. We studied Spanish together at La Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, but we learned more about ourselves and our friendship during that time than we did about the language and the culture. And we were nearly fluent after we returned, so that's saying something. 

One of the things I learned is that traveling with a friend is one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences you can have in a lifetime. If you're anything like me when you start out planning your trip your expectations are high.

The trip will naturally be more epic than our best night out! Plus, since we're such good friends we'll obviously want to do all the same stuff and hang out with all the same people. I'll have a wing-woman, my best friend, and I'll be her side-kick if she ever needs anything. I mean there's no way I won't have the time of my life.

The truth is I did have the time of my life, but it definitely had its ups and downs. After traveling with my best friend, I learned a couple lessons:

  • Set expectations on the front end. You may get along great with your friend, but you want to make sure that you're both on the same page about your priorities for the trip.  
  • Be honest about your budget and how you plan to spend your money. If you plan on staying in hostels but eating at five-star restaurants, you may not appreciate impromptu shopping trips every afternoon. You're investing time and money so make sure you spend it on things that are important to you but remember it's a compromise when you travel with others - so be willing to bend a little to please your travel companion.
  • Don't get caught up in the details. Have a plan, but be prepared to be spontaneous. When you're traveling, it's all about experiencing the culture. If there's a concert in the park or bike tour that looks awesome, be willing to break from the plans to try something unexpected.
  • It's all a compromise. When you decide to travel with someone else, you have to take their concerns and interests to heart. That doesn't mean you need to be a pushover, but you have to find the happy medium to please everyone. 
  • Arrive and depart as friends. Traveling is exciting, but it can be incredibly frustrating. No matter what happens on your travels remember that you've chosen to take a trip with someone you consider a friend, make sure that you return with an even stronger bond.
  • Practice makes perfect. Like everything else in life, you have to walk before you run. Try taking some smaller, weekend trips before packing your bags for a big vacation. Maybe your friend is an early riser, and you're a night owl - good to know before you take to the road (or air). 
It's been far too long since I took a trip with my bestie but I'll get to see her in the next couple weeks, and I'm elated. 

Be Blessed,
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