Travelling With Friends

Experience of a lifetime, or a nightmare of catastrophic proportions?

One of life’s cruel little jokes does seem to be that no matter how loving and respectful a friendship is, no matter how warm and snuggly and mutually agreeable, that a long weekend overseas together can be enough to kill it dead. Trust me, I know. And I’m not alone, I have heard countless tales from friends who, exhausted and emotionally drained from their holidays, would lie prostrate on my couch and regale me with the horrors inflicted on them by their supposed best friend. And the irony is that on another couch in an equally diabolical state there lies the other half, just as hurt and just as dumbfounded. How can this be?

Diversity in our friendships is essential. It keeps things interesting, keeps us learning more and means that we almost always have a friend at hand who’s character fits perfectly with our current mood. Feeling frisky and thirsting for a night out? Call Cara. Feeling cosy and want to bake cakes while listening to Regina Spektor? Give Emily a ring. Nobody wants to spend all of their time with someone exactly like themselves, so for the most part having different personality types around you is a great thing. Except for when you go on holiday. Because then, you see, you can’t escape. Suddenly you notice that Cara’s drinking kicks off at 1pm while you’re keen to go for a hike. Or you want to have a cheeky dance and a flirt but Emily wants to stay in the hostel reading her book. The very things that you loved about your friends can become things that make your hair float slowly on end, and your fingers furiously twitch.

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Not all travelling friendships are made equal, so here are a few basic pointers to help you to decide if taking that mini break together is a good idea, or if it will result in tears, tantrums and a quick flight home.

Money

This is a really important one. You might not think about money much in your friendship at home, mainly because you don’t share a room or eat every single meal together. People are either A) very exact and tense B) don’t mind a little give and take C) very relaxed and a little too into the take. You can put a B person with either of the others and they’ll probably be fine (although feathers will ruffle a bit), but if you pair an A and a C you’ve got a big, dirty fight coming your way. If in every other respect you think you’ll match and still want to travel together then it is essential that you sit down and clearly discuss money first. Are you paying for your selves or are you taking turns at paying? If you can discuss it upfront before the trip and come to an agreement that you’re both happy with then you could be ok.

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Activities

As per Cara and Emily above, some friends are brilliant for a night out, and some are perfect for Sunday strolls and brunch. For travelling you really need to be going with a friend who has similar interests to you, otherwise you’ll get frustrated. If one of you is really keen to see some galleries, visit historical sites and and not drink too much, and the other is going for the beach and the cocktails, it won’t work. Have a chat first about what you want to get out of the holiday. If their dream itinerary sounds like your idea of hell, don’t do it.

Eating/Drinking Habits

Similar to activities, it’s important that you are both on the same page with this. Personally I would infinitely prefer a bottle of wine and some tapas to a cup of tea and a salad, so if I’m travelling with a girlfriend it makes sense to go with someone with a similar vibe. Some people can also skate by with skipping breakfast and a having homemade sandwich for lunch, while this would be considered holiday heresy for another. Food for thought.

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Hygiene

If you’re sharing a room, you want to be at a similar level of cleanliness. This one is certainly not a deal breaker, but if you prefer your clothes carefully ordered and your bed made, while your friend chucks her dirty knickers on the floor and borrows your toothbrush this may cause a rift.

Ability To Handle Stress

Oh, this is a big one. Even when the trip is going amazingly well, there is always a degree of stress involved with travelling. You might not speak the language or understand the culture, run out of money, anything. The better able you are to handle stressful situations, the better a travelling companion you will be. If your friend tends to have a melt down over the little things, you might be in for a tense time.

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Sexing It Up

That’s right. Because who doesn’t love a little fling in Rome or Vienna, a little turn at dancing the pelvis tango on their holiday? Well, quite a few people, and it happens more often that you’d think. If your friend is a prone to kindling hot sparks of passion when she’s unleashed upon new territory, just be prepared that you might spend a night on your own. Or if it is you who likes a sultry summer’s kiss with a dark eyed stranger under the light of the moon, don’t forget who you came with, and don’t leave her alone too long.

The good news, after all this doom and gloom, is that with the right person travelling with a friend can be absolutely glorious. If you are on the same wave length, share interests and passions and have the same sense of adventure then it will be an experience that you will never forget. Some of my best ever trips have been with my friends, and I will remember them and cherish them as long as I live. But I have also experienced true misery when travelling with friends who were great ‘city pals’ but completely wrong for a few days away.

I wish you a beautiful trip, no matter which horizons beckon you, and I hope that you have a glorious person by your side to lift you up, make you laugh, and share a sandwich with.

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