If I had a dollar for every time someone warned me that travelling with a friend is the fastest way to end a friendship, I would be writing this blog post from Paris.
Here’s the thing:
It’s not that travelling is the kiss of death for all relationships.
Travelling with someone accelerates your relationship.
If it’s meant to last, it will. If it was meant to eventually fade away (or blow up), it will blow up. Probably while you’re meant to be enjoying a gorgeous day in Capri or Buenos Aires or wherever it is you worked so hard to travel to.
I’ve heard so many stories from friends who have hit rocky times on the road, with their friend, sibling or partner, that has left their relationship strained or permanently shattered. However, this is definitely not a reason not to travel together!
I’ve taken long trips with a friend twice, the first time with Claire and the second time, with Chloe. I couldn’t have asked for better friends to travel with, and I’m forever grateful that they chose to spend their time & money overseas with me, and for being such patient, positive & fun travel companions.
While I’ve had great experiences travelling with friends, I’ve seen too many friendships and relationships take a hit while travelling. Pretty much every argument or resentment I’ve seen build, has been because of one of the issues I’ve detailed below.
Travelling with friends or partners can be an amazing experience, and one that you’ll get to relive for years afterwards. With a few simple considerations, you can make the road much smoother.
1. Don’t travel to make your relationship better. Travel to make it even better.
Travelling with your partner can be really exciting, but it can also present some new challenges – especially if you don’t usually live together.
While travelling, I’ve witnessed a relationship breakdown that made the last two weeks of travelling awkward for one party, and heartbreaking for the other.
They’d been together for just over six months when they booked the trip, in the hope of making the relationship work. Unfortunately, this failed spectacularly and probably really tainted their memories of the trip.
Travelling is an intense roller coaster of extreme highs and sudden, sometimes terrifying, lows. Kind of like having a baby ( or so they tell me). Before you book your tickets, you need to think about whether this person can see you at your best and worst (often in a matter of minutes) and still want to stick around. You also need to be able to do the same for them.
2. Manage your money.
Mixing friendships & money is rarely a good idea, but it’s an even more terrible one when you’re travelling. I’ve always travelled with friends who are really honest with money, and we always made sure we evened out everything by the end of the day.
It can be a little tedious, but when you’re travelling you often need to watch every dollar – so instead of having an internal grumble three weeks in about the croissant you shouted on the first day and the drinks you shouted last week, make sure you’re even every couple of days.
Oh, also – blowing your budget early on is not only sucks for you, but you’re worrying about money and becoming an overnight Scrooge can really impact your friend’s time too.
To keep track of my money, I’d put my daily amount into the calculator on my phone, and subtract money every time I spent it – more or less. Each morning, I’d add my daily budget to yesterday’s balance.
I wasn’t 100% accurate, but it gave me a good idea of how I was going, which was really important as we couldn’t check our travel card balance on our phones. Despite some days of big spending, we both managed to stay in the black till the end of the trip. Success!
3. Make sure you’re both on the same page.
It will be hard if one of you is squeezing the most out of every dollar/euro/rupee, if the other has cash to burn. You can make it easier by sitting down before you travel and talking about how much you each have in your budget per day, and what types of experiences you’re after.
By all means, if you’ve got the means (and discipline) to save, but your friend doesn’t, make sure you fit in the experiences you worked hard to afford – but talk about it first and make room for compromise.
4. Travel in twos, not threes (if possible).
I can’t think of too many times I’ve been around people travelling in a group of three, that’s worked out all that well. A party of three makes for awkward power dynamics and extra personalities to manage.
It can also mean when there is an argument, there’s one person awkwardly in the middle, who eventually has to pick a side (or train seat, or to go on the walking tour rather than the museum, etc).
If you are holidaying in a group of three, take care to mix up who gets the mattress on the floor, the seat by themselves on the long train trip and who is calling the shots each day.
If you’ve already booked a holiday with you and your two best buds, don’t freak out. You’ll most likely have an amazing time, especially if you go in knowing that a group of three can be a bit trickier to manage on the road.
5. Own your mistakes. Forgive your friend.
This is easily the most important tip for maintaining any relationship while you travel. Sometimes there is nothing harder than admitting you’re wrong, but it’s especially important when you’re living in someone’s lap for weeks or months at a time.
When you’re living in someone’s lap for weeks on end, it’s not the time to pretend your stubbornness or pride are endearing personality traits. If you need to apologise, don’t waste another second of your precious holiday time skirting around the issue and pissing off your travel companions – spit it out!
Even if it’s as small as “Sorry I was a bit grumpy earlier, I was just a bit stressed about missing the train”, a little can go a long way towards preventing bigger problems.
When your friends are the ones screwing up, you need to let it go. As in, let it go and don’t bring it up again. Don’t spend a single precious second holding a grudge or being moody. The millions of happy memories you make will make up for it.