It’s that time of year again, travel friends: February. Personally, this month tends to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb for many reasons. It brings frigid weather, the dissipation of New Year’s resolutions, and dwindling daylight.
As it always does, trip planning for the looming spring and summer months keeps me from slipping into a deep seasonal depression. I consider it somewhat of a coping mechanism. Curating a group of friends to accompany me makes the coming trip all the more exciting.
More often than not, planning a trip with friends is perpetually difficult. You may want to visit the local history museum, but your best friend might want to relax by the beach. Your friend might dream of backpacking through Europe, while you envision a luxury hotel with a rooftop infinity pool.
Allow this article to serve as a personal guide to successfully traveling in a group setting - because no vacation is worth a valuable friendship. For better or worse, here are my tips for traveling with friends.
In the words of Fleetwood Mac, you can go your own way
It’s pertinent to take time for yourself during group travel. This means taking a long walk alone, going to a museum, or my personal favorite: drinking a glass of wine at a cocktail lounge. Sharing hotel rooms, space, and time with others can be exceedingly exhausting, so this alone time will allow for true self-reflection and serenity.
It’s not your way or the highway
Operate your group vacation like a democracy, not a dictatorship. Everyone should not be coerced into eating at the restaurant only you prefer, or only visiting the nightclub of your choice. Compromise is your best friend and if your group’s interests differ from yours, take some alone time to do the things you truly want to do. There’s no harm in occasionally splitting from the group.
Choose your (travel) friends wisely
You might consider someone to be your best friend, but this does not make them a good travel buddy. Imagine this: your best friend from college loves early morning hikes, quiet spaces, and vegan dishes. If you love the nightlife scene, a medium rare steak, and sleeping in all day, then consider this an impasse. The dichotomy is evident and it might not be in the best interest of your friendship to travel with someone who envisions a completely different vacation than you do. Unless, of course, you two are willing to compromise.
Birds of a feather don’t always flock together
I cannot stress this enough: every activity does not have to be done together. The point of a vacation is to relax and nothing is more stressful than being forced into visiting a museum you have no interest in for the sake of your friends. A bit of distance allows for great conversation when you eventually regroup with your friends.
As in all things, communication is key. Be sure to respect your friends while traveling together and curate the perfect group whose interests are closely aligned with yours. (Almost) nothing feels better than a perfectly planned vacation.