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Traveling With Friends

Jet setting around the world with your best girlfriends in tow is a sought-after, often-Instagrammed dream. If done right, it can mean amazing memories and more stories that you can count. I have had the opportunity to travel with some of my friends and I’ve learned a few things along the way. For me, some of those lessons came a bit late, but in true mom-friend fashion, I am here to share my tales with you. So buckle up, kids. You’re about to get some wisdom.

Travelling with friends can be thrilling, hilarious, and absolutely spectacular, but it can also be stressful, fight-inducing, and end-in-flames bad. So, I’ve put together the list below of what I’ve learned to have the end-in-rainbows type trip.

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DO: GET ON THE SAME PAGE

This covers a WIDE variety of discussions that need to be had, but it is so important for you and your co-travelers to all be on the same page about your goals for the trip, your budget, what types of things are okay with you and what are off-limits. This was one of those lessons I learned first-hand a bit too late but also why it is number 1 on this list. It is so crucial for you and your friend(s) to understand one another when travelling.

For example, are you paying your own way on your adventure but their parents are footing their bill? This should be a conversation between you about how much money you feel comfortable spending per day and what type of budget you have. A good way to approach this is to set some broad guidelines before you even board the plane. Talk through things like:

  • How much are we comfortable spending for meals out?
  • Are we willing to splurge on a meal here and there?
  • What price of activities are we willing to tack on on a whim? $10 paddle boats? $80 show tickets?
  • How much will we go out at night and how much should we plan to spend on nights out?

Now most of these questions tackle in-the-moment spending, but of course broader budget discussions should be had about the bigger ticket items: hotels, transportation, etc. Of course it’s always hard to talk about money with friends, but if approached in a way of everyone putting on the table what they’re comfortable with BEFORE the trip occurs, I promise that it will alleviate so much tension when the time comes.

Once the awkward financial conversations are out of the way, next you’ll need to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as goals for the trip. This means tackling what everyone really cares about doing/seeing while away. Is your single girlfriend ready to mingle and wants to kiss as many guys from as many countries as possible? Is your art-major friend interested in museums and seeing the architecture? And does your foodie friend want to try every specialty dish in the city? Now I’m certainly not saying everyone needs to want exactly the same things out of a trip. In fact, having varying interests is half the fun- your foodie friend introduces you to a new dish and your art-major friend takers her on a tour of the historical buildings. But what I am saying is you should talk this through and know where everyone is coming from and what they expect. It also helps you formulate some plans. Perhaps if two of you are interested in club-hopping, the other two know that they’ll both be comfortable grabbing a late-night coffee and pastry instead.

 

DON’T: COUNT EVERY PENNY

So, I just got done saying that everyone should be on the same page financially, so this point may seem like a bit of a back track. When you’re out and about exploring new places and trying new foods, it’s going to happen that someone is a few bucks short or someone’s card doesn’t work. I am a firm believer that, in the long run, chipping in for one another works out in the end. If one of you covers a $3 latter, the next one pays your way on the subway, and another spots someone for the cab ride, it will all work out. Even if each of your balances are a few dollars off, it’ll be close enough in the end.

Of course, this is dependent upon everyone being open to contributing and helping when needed, so do keep a general tab to make sure one of you isn’t repeatedly spotting everyone, but if all of you are giving and willing to spot one another, it’s not worth keeping tabs of every dollar. It’s stressful and causes unneeded tension.

All that being said, I really only intend this for the small stuff. If someone is paying for the hotel for everyone or is using their Uber account for every ride, that should be tracked and split evenly and fairly.

 

DO: CONSIDER SAFETY

So, speaking from experience here again. My best friend Mel and I went on a roadtrip two years ago from Philly to Kansas. Hate on the seeming boringness of a roadtrip to Kansas all you want, we had an absolute blast. Halfway through our drive there, though, we had an encounter which both of us still say was the scariest thing either of us has ever experienced.

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Here’s us in our blissful ignorance hours before it happened

We had booked a hotel online through Priceline and I thought I knew what we had booked, but when we showed up, it ended up being a motel-style room with the door right along the parking lot. We got in late, got ready for bed and hit the hay, knowing we were going to be heading out early the next morning. Then, at about 5am, we were awoken by pounding at our door. A male voice was shouting, demanding that we let him in. We could hear him body slamming the door and were sure it would give way any second. The way he was talking, we were positive there were other men with him. At one point, as I was on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, I watched him through the window breaking down the window next to ours. That’s when the panic set in because we figured he’s make it into our room any minute. So, without knowing what else to do, we barricaded ourselves in the bathroom until the police showed up. We sat in there and listened to him continue to body slam the door and threaten us. Luckily, it held and the police showed up a few minutes later.

From that experience, I learned the importance of safety while travelling. Even without leaving your country, being in a new environment puts you at a disadvantage in terms of safety. Especially when it is you and your girlfriend(s), you may appear as an easy target to someone who wants to harm you. When travelling, be sure to:

  • Always know the address of where you’re staying (I didn’t know the address of our hotel, which delayed the dispatcher from sending the police)
  • If not at your hotel, keep a general idea of where you are while moving around, keeping an eye on street signs, mile markers, exits, etc.
  • Know the local emergency number. This is especially important when travelling to different countries- its not always 911
  • Know where your friends are going if you are separating and have a plan of when and where to meet back up
  • Remember what each of you is wearing that day. This could be for something as simple as spotting each other in a crowd or, slightly morbid, being able to explain to police what they were wearing if something were to ever happen
  • From my own personal experience: don’t get motel-style rooms with doors accessible to the public

 

DON’T: BE STUCK IN YOUR WAYS

In the first point, I explained the importance of getting on the same page about your trip with your friends, but here is the reversal of that: when in new places and situations, it is so important to not be stuck in your ways. Use this opportunity to try something you regularly wouldn’t. Especially with your friends around, taking the chance and trying something new together could be so fun.

Maybe you went into the trip having a very strict budget and saying you didn’t want to go out at all. If one night the rest of the group feels like going out, take the opportunity to try something different. Let yourself blow that $60 on cover charges and drinks and see where the night takes you. Or maybe you always said you’d never eat an insect, but then you pass some fried grasshoppers from a street vendor. GIRL DO IT. Long story short, know your goals and what is comfortable for you, but please be ready to try new things and step outside your comfort zone, especially when it means trying new things with your friends.

 

DO: COMMUNICATE AND TAKE BREAKS

This is a tried-and-true rule for any relationship and any situation, but it is especially true when hopping around the world with your friends. Remain open and honest with one another. If something is bothering you or making you uncomfortable, calmly and respectfully communicate it. No matter how much you love your friends, being with them 24/7 for a trip where you eat, sleep, and explore together, something is bound to get on your nerves. Do not spend the whole trip getting progressively more annoyed at whatever is bothering you and potentially ruining your experience. Have a talk about it, hash it out, and move on. And if needed, take the night off and try separate adventures to get some alone time. When travelling, your companions are probably the only people you know in the country, so take care of your relationship and don’t let anything break it down.

 

That’s all I have for now! Do you have tips for traveling with your friends or a crazy story from your last all-girls trip? Share them in a comment below!

 

 

 

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