As much as I preach the importance of taking solo trips, there’s nothing like traveling with your best friend. Exploring new cities and experiencing new adventures with someone significant in your life can make your memories 100000x better. Traveling with your best friend is a unique experience that I hope you all get the chance to experience.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know this summer I took the trip of a lifetime and roamed Europe with one of my best friend, Mary. I was surprised at how many DMs and “real-life” questions I received regarding how Mary and I survived such a big trip with one another. Mary and I have traveled several times together and believe it or not, we have never had an issue (that I know of haha!).
Spending 24/7 with your best friend means that you’re without a doubt going to get to know them on a new level, you’ll face challenges together, and your friendship will inevitably be put to the test. The result can either be a much stronger friendship or potentially the end of a friendship.
The social worker in me couldn’t resist analyzing what factors lead to successful travel with best friends!
Set Clear Expectations
Before leaving on your trip, set clear expectations about where you want to go, what you’re hoping to do, and what you want to gain. Talk about each of your travel styles. Are you more of a schedule type of person or a plan- as-you-go type of person? Are you hoping to stroll the city streets or try some extreme sports? Would you rather lay on the beach or adventure on a hike? Are you a night owl or an early bird? As simple as all these sounds, it’s crucial to making sure your trip runs smoothly.
Work With Each Others Strengths
Everyone has different strengths. Take time to understand what each person likes to do and what they’re best at. Maybe one of you is good at planning and negotiating and the other is good at navigating, finding events, or finding Airbnbs. Capitalize on each person’s strengths.
For example, I love the planning aspect of traveling. Dare I say…I love the planning piece just as much as the actual trip! I love researching new places, what to do, where to eat, finding the hidden gems of cities and countries, gambling with plane ticket prices, etc. I’m aware that many people dread planning, so I’m always happy to take on this piece of travel.
Communicate Your Thoughts and Feelings
Communicate, communicate, communicate. The therapist in me can’t stress this enough! Just like in any relationship, communication is key…even more so when you’re traveling with someone! Sure, when you’re home, you and your best friend might be able to read each others’ cues, body language, mind, etc. but when people are out of their norm, things change. Traveling can be a very intense experience. Don’t assume you know how the other person is feeling or what they’re thinking.
You’re best friends, so get comfortable opening up. Don’t hold any negative feelings. As awkward as you may feel talking about whatever is on your mind, I promise it’ll prevent issues down the road. Tell your friend when you’re feeling up for something or when you’re not, when you want some time to yourself, or when something is bothering you. They might be feeling the same way!
Be Aware of Your Other Half
Making sure you’re aware of your other travel half is just as important as communicating. If something seems off about your friend, ask them. As their best friend and travel companion, you have a responsibility to make sure they’re okay and comfortable. Use your best judgment if you sense they may need some alone time, need a relaxing day, or even just a mid-day coffee break. Take care of each other while you’re exploring the world. No matter if you’re traveling for a weekend or an entire summer, it’s you and your friend against the world!
Surprise Each Other
Don’t you love when someone you care about surprises you by doing something nice without you asking? It’s the little things in life that go a long away in life, especially when you’re away home. Treat your best friend to a gelato, surprise her with fresh espresso in the morning, offer to carry her bags, if your Airbnb host serves her something you know she doesn’t like take the bullet and eat it for her (s/o to the best friends that take one for the team)! Traveling together is a unique opportunity to strengthen your relationship in ways you wouldn’t be able to at home, take advantage.
Talk About Money
Talking about finances with others is a huge taboo. Before pulling out your passport to travel with your best friend, you’re going to need to get comfortable talking about money together. Do you really want your friendship to end because one of you paid more for dinner than the other? No.
Let’s be real; at the end of the day, finances will not end up being evenly split down the middle. You’ll drive each other crazy if you spend time counting nickels and dimes. Accept that.
I’ve had some friends who pull out their calculators at dinner to calculate how much each plate was to ensure no one paid a penny more than what they ate, I’ve had other friends who want just to split the bill in half, and I’ve had others who pay the bill in exchange for me paying for the next one. Ultimately everyone manages their finances differently. While there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about finances, save yourselves the stress, and talk about how you’ll handle money.
Setting a budget is really helpful. One of the first things Mary and I talked about when we started planning our Europe trip this summer was how much each of us should save. We both settled on a number that felt reasonable, set a spending limit, estimated our highest expenses such as transportation and lodging, and decided we would split our spendings down the middle. I’ve found this to be the easiest and most stress-free way, but everyone is different. Make sure you’re on the same page.
Learn to Love Silence
There’s nothing better than being so comfortable with someone that you don’t constantly feel the need to talk and entertain the other. Learn to love the silence. Don’t feel obligated to speak to one another 24/7. In silence, we can learn a lot about ourselves and the other person. Allow each other to intake all the new surroundings and experiences
Know That It’s Okay to Separate
Don’t be afraid to separate for a bit, even if it’s just for a few hours. Separating doesn’t mean something is wrong or that your friendship is in trouble. On the contrary, separation might be helpful for your relationship. Some people don’t just want time to be alone, but they need time to themselves. It’s okay. Chances are you both won’t want to do the same things all the time. One of you may want to spend the day reading at a cafe, while the other may want to go on a hike. When you’re reunited in the evening, you and your best friend will have plenty to catch-up on.
You survived your trip! You’re still best friends! All is well. Over the next couple of months make sure to make it a priority to meet up with one another to discuss your trip. We all know that every trip gifts us with lifelong memories and lessons. While all those small details of your trip are still top of mind, meet with your best friend at least once a week and talk about how you’ve been feeling since being home and how the trip impacted you. Traveling together is a bonding experience like no other. Take advantage of the travel high to grow your friendship.
It’s also totally okay to want to spend some time apart. After spending a week or weeks attached at the hip, it could be useful for your relationship to separate for a couple of days and unwind. However, if there is anything you want to talk about with them or any negative feelings, talk about them as soon as possible.
Did I miss any tips on how to travel with your best friend?