Even if you love a person to death, it’s hard not to find a few bones to pick when you spend all of your time with them. It’s why becoming roommates with your BFF may not actually be the long-term sleepover party you think. But aside from living with your friends, one of the most significant tests of a friendship is to take it on the road. We’re talking travel.
While the golden rule of any relationship is ~communication~, here are ten simple ways to cut down on the potential for your next travel buddy to become your ex-travel buddy.
1Discuss your travel expectations beforehand.
If one of you is envisioning a relaxing, week-long vacation where you sleep in, spend time relaxing oceanside, and maybe do some sightseeing when you’re feeling up to it, and the other has a mile long list of activities, there are going to be some problems.
When planning your trip, make sure you stop to set an objective for the trip, and agree on a balance. Is it a sightseeing trip? Are you lookin’ to party? Are you trying to unwind? Do you have a million things you want to see? There are def ways to compromise between these things, but it’s going to be hard to do it on the fly, and nearly impossible if you’re hungry, jet-lagged, and cranky. Do it before you leave!
2Discuss budgetary limitations before you leave, too.
While you both may have sprung for the vacay, your budget while traveling might not be the same as your friend’s. If you’re hoping to live off of street meat and peanut butter sandwiches, but your roommate can’t live without a sit-down meal and sparkling water, this is something you should know going into it, so you can plan accordingly.
Don’t just think about food, though. Talk about activities — are you only going to go into museums or historical sites if they’re free? Do you have a hard number limit for what you can spend on certain activities? Is there a specific splurge you’re open to? This one is especially easy to think you’ll figure it out as you go, but very little stresses people out faster than money — you don’t want you, or your friend, to start to feel overextended (or deprived) because you skipped this conversation before takeoff.
3Don’t pack your passive aggressiveness. You don’t have room for it.
We get it — traveling can be exhausting. You’re globetrotting, sleeping in unfamiliar places, staying up late, eating poorly…All of these things can make you cranky AF for good reason. It’s easy when you’re in a bad mood to let things get to you in ways they otherwise wouldn’t, and it’s even easier to fall into the trap of passive aggressiveness.
Don’t let things get to a boiling point. If you’re feeling frustrated with an aspect of the trip, talk to your friend in a calm, reasonable manner. If you’re adult enough to be traveling with friends or significant others, you should be adult enough to have a conversation. It may be slightly uncomfortable to bring up certain issues, but you’ll be glad you did when you can sort them out before they become Issues.
4Schedule some time apart.
Another easy trap to fall into is spending every waking moment with your travel buddy while you’re traveling — they are, after all, the only person you know! While you might think you can spend 24/7 with your bestie, actually doing it under the added pressures of travel is risky at best.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Maybe one day you both agree to get coffee at separate locations. Maybe you like to run, and your friend doesn’t, so you make time in the morning to do that on your own. Maybe you like to journal, and so take some time by yourself to hang out in a cool Viennese coffee shop and organize your thoughts. Even if you don’t need time apart from your friend, it’s important to be open to it if your friend needs time apart from you — and more importantly, not to take it personally.
5Talk about party protocol.
If you’re traveling the world while you’re young, wild, and free, make sure you have a quick check-in with your friend before you get into your weekend groove. While, especially for women, going out can be a little complex in the safety department, everything is more complicated in an unfamiliar city, or especially in a foreign country. Make sure you have a protocol for how to get in touch if you lose one another (don’t forget, you might not always have phone service like you’re used to!) or a place to meet at a certain time if you plan to split up.
If you’re single and lookin’ to mingle, it’s also a good idea to make sure you and your friend are on the same page. You might be totally fine if your friend wants to go home with some hot French guy named Pierre, but your friend might be worried to walk home alone. On the flip side, if you’re thinking about inviting a guy or girl back to your place, make sure your friend is comfortable with it. (Also, if you’re staying in a hostel, quick answers to all of your late night post-Spanish sangria questions: No, you won’t both fit in that bed. Yes, even if it’s dark, the other people in the room will be able to see you. No, you will not be quiet enough. Yes, the beds are as rickety as you worry they are. Godspeed.)
6COORDINATE YOUR ALARMS.
Yo, this is the most obvious thing in the world, but do not even think about going to bed without agreeing with your travel buddy when you’ll get up. If you’re excited about seeing a new place and don’t bother to set an alarm because you know you’ll be up at 6 a.m. ready and rarin’ to go, don’t assume your friend is the same — they might be jet-lagged and looking forward to sleeping alllll morning.
A lot of peacefully traveling with a friend is setting expectations, and finding a middle ground you can both live with. Never take for granted that you’re on the same page, even if you think of your travel buddy as your other half!
7Be careful and mindful about splitting bills.
It’s all too easy to want to skip the complicated splitting-the-bill dance, especially in countries where it’s not common to get a bill split in the way it is in the U.S. Covering the whole bill and assuming your friend will get you back is fine for a meal here and there — it all evens out eventually, right? — but for a whole trip, it can be risky.
For one, you’re probably on a budget, and it’s so easy to accidentally overspend when not everything you’ve spent is immediately coming out of your wallet. For another, it’s easy to lose a receipt or forget that you covered something, and then not know how much you’re owed.
Guessing and estimating is, again, fine between friends every now and then, but if you feel like you’re spending (however inadvertently) more than your fair share, it’s easy to build resentment, even if it’s not your fault. Figure out what works for you and your friend — whether that’s both of you carrying cash to split things, immediately venmoing the other the difference, or whatever solution you both can agree to.
8Make some more friends!
Your travel partner might be your best friend in the whole world, and you may have allotted the perfect amount of alone time, but really — there’s no way to properly convey exactly how much time you’re spending with somebody you’re traveling with, especially long-term. Making friends from different backgrounds is one of the best parts of traveling in general, but it can really go a long way to keeping things sailing smooth between you and your travel partner. Not only do you have more people to talk to, and more people to talk about later, but you’re guaranteed an inside peek at whatever place you’re visiting you wouldn’t get any other way.
Just be careful not to talk or complain about your travel buddy to new friends!
9Sometimes you just have to let things go.
Did you friend borrow your dress and spill something on it? Borrow your shampoo and use way too much? Take the window seat on the train one too many times? A lot of these minor issues that come up while traveling can be fixed with a quick chat, but sometimes, they’re better left alone. If you don’t have a solution in mind when you confront a problem or see a way to compromise, and it’s not endangering you in any real way, it might be best to take a deep breath, and move on.
10Double check how your friend spells their full name, eh?
Let’s just pretend that you didn’t know your friend’s nickname was a nickname, not their full name, and so in booking your flights you used their nickname…and then got slapped with a bunch of $50 change fees…that would be pretty embarrassing, right? Not to mention expensive. So, just sayin’, if you’re booking on behalf of you and a friend, make sure you have all of their correct information!