12 Essential Pre-Departure Tips for Travel with Friends

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Friends traveling together looking at mountain.

Travel with friends can go one of two ways:

  • Outcome 1: Your adventures together will be exceptionally special; you’ll forge lifelong bonds and create unforgettable memories.
  • Outcome 2: You’ll end up hating each other’s guts and wish you’d hit the road solo!

Okay, it isn’t always that black and white.

But the moral of the story is true, traveling with your friends isn’t always easy. It can be an intense experience!

What should be the trip of a lifetime can easily become marred by friction, disputes, and disagreements. You’ll almost certainly experience incredible things together and make epic memories.

Over time, though, it is amazingly common for best friends to get sick of each other. Some even go their separate ways midway through the trip. Sometimes, for the sake of the travel experience, that’s for the best. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t happen though. Travel should bring people together, not drive them apart.

Keeping certain things in mind can prevent separation from happening. At the very least, there are ways to minimize and mitigate friendly disputes on the road.

Planning a trip with friends? Keep reading to learn how to end up with outcome #1.

Go with Your Bestie(s)

First thing’s first – go with your best friend(s).

In other words, choose your travel companions wisely.

You probably know your best buddy better than anyone else; they probably know you just as well. This will go a long way in ensuring you have an amazing experience together overseas.

It doesn’t mean you won’t fall out! After all, it’s easy to say what you want to someone you know so well. That can lead to problems when emotions run high while traveling.

However, overall, it’s far better to be with someone you trust and can be yourself around. You’ve already spent countless hours together throughout your lifetimes. Being in each other’s pockets on the road will be that bit easier. 

Plan the Trip Together

It’s important to plan your trip together, together. All too often one person shoulders the burden. One of you might not have the time, or be as bothered about planning; the other may happily volunteer for the job.

This is a recipe for trouble. For one thing, planning your travels is a big task – it takes time to figure out where to go, what to see, how to get between places, and so on. It wouldn’t be surprising that whoever is doing all the leg work starts resenting the responsibility.

What’s more, one person may have totally different ideas about the trip. People have different interests and desires. Bob may want to do nothing more than laze on a beach all day and party all night. Carol might want to hike up mountains (as part of her travel fitness routine), explore ancient ruins and learn about the country’s history.

woman in hammock

Imagine if either one of these two people planned the trip for the other. It wouldn’t work.

Travel is expensive. No-one wants to keep spending their money on something they aren’t interested in. Plan the trip together in order to decide, fairly and in collaboration, where you’ll go and what you’ll do. It will help you avoid potential issues down the line.

Set Expectations

This point leads on from the last: You need to talk with each other to set your expectations for the trip.

The worst thing that can happen is getting to your destination and realizing you have totally different ideas for the time ahead. You need to enter the trip with a solid understanding of the other person’s interests, desires, and hopes for the experience.

If you’re going with your best friend, then you may already know how they’ll want to travel. But you might be surprised.

Like I mentioned before, people travel in totally different ways! Bob and Carol are going to have to make serious compromises to enjoy their time together.

As you plan your trip, discuss crucial things like where you want to go, how you want to get around, the quality of accommodation you want to stay in, how you’re going to cook/eat, how you’re going to share expenses, and so on.

Set Rules and Boundaries

Get ready for the first of two boring B-words in this post:


I think it’s important to set boundaries ahead of time. Boundary-setting is about laying out your rules of engagement for the trip. It’s about letting your friend(s) know where you draw the line on certain issues.

Maybe you want to be asleep by a certain time of night. Maybe you want to wake up at a certain time. Maybe you don’t want to feel pressure to party too much. Maybe you don’t want to take drugs, or ride motorbikes, or visit dodgy neighborhoods. And so on.

Take the time to lay it all out on the line. Find ways to work together on your boundaries.

This might seem unnecessary and overboard. However, it should also be a big help when you’re on the road. By making something known before you leave and agreeing upon it together, nobody can complain about it when you’re traveling.

Sure, leave room for flexibility when you’re out there. But make sure your friend(s) respect your boundaries too.

Have Similar Budgets

Here’s boring B-word number 2: Budgets.

Traveling with someone who has a lot more, or less, money than you do can be a bit awkward. Simply, one person can afford more than the other. Deciding activities, choosing accommodation, and picking restaurants can become a challenge.

couple in covertible car with hands in the air

Hitting the road with similar budgets can be helpful.

An alternative would be to decide your budget ahead of time. Again, it’s about setting expectations. You decide in advance how much you’re willing and able to spend on things. You’ll avoid awkward conversations, and financial issues, on the road.

Do a Trial Run

Traveling for the first time with your friend(s)? Think about doing a trial run before the trip itself.

This could almost be your very first step in the process.

Going away with someone is intense. Go on a short trip together to test the water. You’ll quickly realize if you could stand a longer (and more intense) amount of time together.

I suppose it’s like having a “try before you buy” mentality. Imagine buying a car. It’s a heavy investment, meaning you’d be foolish to just buy it outright. You test drive it first, right?

It’s the best way of understanding if it will be the right vehicle for you. The same applies with a trial trip. Traveling with friends is a heavy investment.

Take Breaks from Each Other

Okay, let’s skip ahead.

Imagine that you’re now officially traveling with your friends. You’re spending 24 hours a day in each other’s pockets. You’re going where they’re going, and vice versa. You’re eating, sleeping and exploring the world together.

It’s may be as intense as it sounds.

Be sure to get some time apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? Building in some me-time will ensure you continue to enjoy the experience together.

Hang Out with Other People Too

One thing I like about solo travel is how it forces you to meet new people.

There’s only so much time you can be by yourself, though. You may, on occasion, need genuine help and advice from others. When you’re solo, you will have to introduce yourself to total strangers, making new friends in the process.

That’s less of a need when you’re already traveling with friends.

It’s tempting to just spend time with each other, as normal. I mean, you already have company and somebody to share the moment with. There’s less actual need to be with others.

I see that as a bit of a trap.

The people you meet on the road generally make the trip better. It’s to the detriment of your experience if you fail to interact with fellow travelers. Make the effort to introduce yourself to them.

Get Ready for Arguments

It’s natural to fall out with your friends when traveling.

You’re spending so much time together, it’s hard not to have the occasional spat. In some ways, it’s better to get it out of the way than to let negative feelings simmer beneath the surface. Silent resentment can be toxic to the trip, and you’ll never be able to fully enjoy the experience if you’re seething inside.

Arguments are never fun. They can leave a sour taste in the mouth. In worst-case scenarios, they can even bring an early end to the experience and lead you to go your separate ways.

If it happens, though, try to respond to the situation maturely. One argument doesn’t have to impact the entire trip, so don’t let it. You can take the higher ground, apologize, and move on.

Talk Things Through

Communication at every step of the way is key. Voice your concerns, express your opinions (fairly), discuss the situation, let them know your grievances, express your gratitude, ask for their advice, and so on.

friends talking over coffee

Doing so inevitably alleviates any tension and will help solve problems before they get worse. That’s good news for avoiding damaging arguments. Communication prevents issues boiling over unnecessarily.

Equally, expressing yourself openly just feels good. It means you’re on the same page; you know what’s going on with each other every step of the way.

Take a Chill Pill & Enjoy the Moment

There will be times when you want to throttle your friend.

Firstly, ignore the urge, it’s unlikely to end well for anyone.

Secondly, take a second or two to chill out. Breathe for a moment. Take stock and remind yourself where you are and what you’re doing.

This is meant to be the trip of a lifetime. Even better, you’re meant to be sharing it with your closest friend(s). This should be fun, and full of laughter and good times. You want to revel in the excitement, novelty, and freedom. It shouldn’t involve excessive anger and blinding negativity.

Bring yourself back to the present moment and remember how special this situation is. Realize that you may never do anything like it again.

Understand that holding onto anger is a choice. You can let it go. Realize your anger is the product of the situation. You’re probably just tired, hungry and need to rest up. Have a day to just do nothing. That might be all it takes to feel better.

Give and Take

There’s definitely a need for give-and-take, though.

You can’t be the only one making all the effort, and neither can your friend. There needs to be a mutual and reciprocal attempt to remain in good spirits. A bit of give-and-take extends to the entire trip too.

Compromise is a key word that I used earlier. It’s vital for a smooth-running experience of travel with friends. You can’t have everything your way, and neither can they; you’re going to have to sacrifice some of your own preferences, and so will they.

Try and be fair about proceeding. If yesterday was your day to decide the activities, let your friend decide today’s schedule. That way, everyone ends up happy.

Time to Wrap Up

There you have it, 12 essential pre-departure tips for travel with friends.

Exploring the world with your closest friends can be a special experience. You’re with the people you love most, doing epic things in incredible places. It’s an exciting prospect.

The reality can have its challenges, though. The trials and tribulations that occur on the road can often lead to animosity and arguments. Without care and effort, the trip can quickly take a negative turn.

Hopefully, though, the tips in this post will prevent that happening.

Have you got a trip with friends coming up? It’d be great to hear from you. What are you looking forward to most about the experience, and what are you most concerned about?

Pin this to your favorite Pinterest boards and review before planning your next vacation with friends.

Guest author bio: Danny Newman is currently writing and traveling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing. You can also find him on Pinterest.

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