Traveling with a friend is quite different than seeing your friend every day at home or at work. That’s a lot of one and one time and you want to make sure to travel in a way that lets you remain friends after your trip is over. Don’t worry! It’s not that difficult. Hopefully you’ve found friends as wonderful as mine that can help make traveling together a breeze.
Quick back story: My friend Annie and I decided recently to travel together to Eastern Europe. We would be spending 17 days touring through 6 different countries! Our transport included planes, trains, and automobiles and our accommodations ranged from hotels and hostels to Airbnbs. Suffice to say we were ALL over the place… We carefully planned out our itinerary over the phone (she lives in Seattle), and set about booking our long overdue #friendimoon adventure.
Check out what I learned about traveling with a friend. Don’t worry, it’s all good stuff!
This may sound silly to the planners out there but you’d be surprised how many people don’t plan ahead for trips. Now I’m not saying plan out every second of every day, because where’s the fun in that? What I am saying is plan out the big stuff like the hotels, transport, and the sights that you absolutely DON’T want to miss. If you like the adventure of finding a hostel the night of, you do you, but as we learned that can get a bit stressful especially during the high-volume seasons. It’s always comforting to me to know that even in a strange city, I have a place to rest my head and a way to get to the next stop.
Have your alone time
This is essential for both enjoying your vacation and also staying friends after your trip is done.
Quick story: Our 6th day traveling we arrived in Budapest after going full steam the previous few days hitting all the sites in Prague and Cesky Krumlov. We were EXHAUSTED. Even worse, we had booked a hostel that night in a communal room. After a quick meal, it was apparent to both of us we needed a bit of space and time alone. We loved what we had seen so far, and we were still excited about the rest of our trip, but we severely needed some time to ourselves. We decided to have a night in. Yepp, on our first night in Budapest. We spent a bit of time cleaning clothes, looking at pictures, planning out the next few days, and listening to our headphones. We even went to bed early… and what do you know, it worked! We woke up the next day rejuvenated for our trip!
You can even implement this strategy out and about in the city if you and your friend have very different interests. If science museums are your thing, and she’d rather go to an art museum, be okay going your own direction. Obviously make sure that each path is safe--aka do not let your friend go on a pub crawl by herself--remember, you’re each there to help keep each other safe too! With that being said, it’s okay to go your separate way.
This section goes hand in hand with the last. While you should absolutely make sure you get the time to do what you want to do, get out of your comfort zone and try some something you’d usually pass up. You’re traveling to gain experiences and explore new places, so try something you wouldn’t normally! Annie and I agreed ahead of time on the experiences that we both wanted to see in each city. We’d compromise and accompany each other to various activities, since some experiences are just better with another person! It’s definitely a bit of give and take, but ultimately you’re friends for a reason and must have some similar interests.
Don’t Freak When Shit Goes Down
This is probably THE MOST important thing to remember about traveling with friends. You are a team. Even when things go wrong you need to be able to rely on each other, and figure out a solution. Let me give you a 2 examples:
Here’s when shit went down during our trip:
1) We arrived in Cesky Krumlov and found out that the train we were promised didn’t exist. We’d have to pay a driver to take us to another city to board a train all the way back to Prague, then board another train to go to Budapest… and it goes on. We had our reservations booked in Budapest for that night so we knew that we HAD to get there. We asked the owner of our hostel for help, and sat down with our ipads to try and decide how to get to our next location. After some luck, we discovered that we could take a car just across the border to Austria, and catch a train from there to Budapest for reasonably cheap! So that’s exactly what we did. Crisis averted!
2) When we hopped off the ferry in Dubrovnik we planned on staying in this lovely little B&B in town. We arrived well past 10pm at the doorstep ready to go to sleep. Turns out even our careful planning can sometimes go south. It seems we had booked a room at this bed and breakfast for the same day NEXT MONTH. Now it was 10pm, we had all our gear, and no place to sleep. Luckily, the owner of the bed and breakfast let us come inside and use her internet to find a new place to stay. In a sheer miracle, we found one room fairly close that was still available and in our price range. Annie and owner of the inn raced down the street to the office of this other place and caught them just as they were leaving. We booked the place on the spot and within an hour we were unpacking. Now I won’t lie, I panicked a bit during this incident. I didn’t think we’d have a place to sleep and we’d have to camp out on the beach, or a park bench somewhere. Luckily Annie remained calm, and was quick on her feet to help get us to a place where we were comfortable. She deserves all the credit for finding us a place to sleep that night. With that being said, maintaining a level head and NOT freaking out saved the day… even if I wasn’t the one to do it.
Revel in the Little Moments
These are the parts of the trip that make the effort and stress of travel worth it. We encountered several WOW moments on our trip including stumbling upon a fountain show in a random part of Budapest, finding the cutest and unfortunately most romantic cafe for two single friends in Rovinj, eating at the best restaurant on our entire trip down a back alley in Split, and wandering through the Vasa museum in Stockholm. These are the moments worth traveling for, and the fact that you get to experience them with your best friend makes it even better!