Forty percent of millennials prefer to travel with friends, a more popular option than traveling solo or with a partner or family, as Travel Agent Central reported in February. I’ve traveled with friends for 15 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned between touring the Coliseum and hiking Acadia National Park, it’s that not all friends make good travel buddies. A few tips can go a long way in creating a relaxing and fun vacation:
1. Choose a destination that’s accessible for and interesting to everyone
Delayed flights, missed connections and weather emergencies can all get a trip started off on a stressful note. This can be minimized by choosing a destination that’s fairly convenient for everyone. Likewise, pick a place that everyone truly wants to visit. I, for one, love horses and would enjoy nothing more than a week visiting horse farms in Kentucky capped off by grandstand tickets to the Kentucky Derby. My regular travel friends? Not so much. So when I took a road trip to the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event a few years ago, it made sense to go with my barn friends.
2. Have each friend pick an activity or site to visit
Once my friends and I have decided where we’re going, we each choose an activity or site that’s especially exciting for each of us. I have a particularly lighthouse-obsessed friend who wanted to visit the Marshall Point Lighthouse when we took a meandering Labor Day tour of Maine a few years back. All of us were more than happy to spend a few hours strolling the scenic coastline. More recently, during a trip to Saratoga Springs, New York, a history-buff friend wanted to visit the New York State Military Museum. Examining old uniforms and weaponry isn’t on my bucket list, but I knew how thrilled she would be. So, knowing I’d be in my glory the next day at the racetrack, I went with her to the museum. In the end, it’s about making sure everyone has something fun to do.
3. Talk about money before the trip
Back in the just-out-of-college days, my friends and I had pretty similar travel goals: Choose something cheap and fun. Now, however, some of us have pursued higher-earning careers while others have chosen lower-salary tracks (hello, all you teachers and freelance writers out there). While I’m still in the planning stages of a trip, it’s important that my friends and I know what everyone’s expectations are for spending money. It can be quite awkward if one person expects to eat at a five-star restaurant every night and someone else wants hot dogs from a street vendor.
4. Know everyone’s food preferences and other limitations
Most of the time, my friends and I pick restaurants by walking up and down the streets and reading menus (or following our noses to wherever smells the best). This works because we’ve investigated each other’s food requirements and preferences in advance. You should do the same for the friends you’ll be traveling with. While you’re at it, ask if they have other restrictions. I might love to go whale watching in the Puget Sound, but I’m not going to ask a motion-sickness-prone friend to go with me, nor am I going to ask a friend recovering from ankle surgery to hike Mt. Washington.
5. Respect the need for personal time
Spending three or four or more action-packed days with friends can be great, but the truth is, many of us need quiet alone time, too. After graduation, my parents and my best friend’s parents generously surprised us with a trip to Italy. Several days in, it was clear we both needed to recharge. So one afternoon, I set out to wander around Florence on my own. I walked up and down curving streets, discovered hidden churches and the Great Synagogue, and soaked up the atmosphere of a lazy Sunday afternoon. When I got back to the hotel, I was feeling tired but happy, and my friend was ready for us to hit the town together.
About the Author
Samantha Facciolo is pursuing an M.F.A. in fiction at Emerson College. She teaches in the college’s high school outreach program, emersonWRITES, and is an editorial assistant at Redivider. She has traveled and worked in parts of South America, Europe and the Middle East and loves experiencing different cultures and areas of the world. Follow her @seesamwrite.
Photo of “silhouette success” by Shutterstock/Yuriy Seleznev
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