Experiencing a new place is perennially thrilling, nurturing your zest for life while satisfying your wanderlust curiosities. Doing it with friends makes it even more exciting, as sharing such experiences brings a host of other emotions, moments, and revelations that make your trip even more memorable, if not always for the best reasons.
Here’s a short list covering just some of the joys and pains of travelling with people you know, from colleagues to school or childhood buddies, and why, for better or for worse, it’s always a worthwhile endeavour.
Doing things together
Probably the primary purpose of travelling with friends. After all, many find confidence and courage in meeting strangers and new environments with their buddies around. Whether you’re whitewater rafting, pub crawling, or checking out historic landmarks; friends bring their perspectives, personalities and reactions without the resistance of awkwardness or self-consciousness that come with strangers.
Every moment is one for your history books, with the potential to be forever recounted during future meetups, whether good or bad. Plus, you get savings on things like shared transport and group tour deals, and security and reassurance amongst familiar faces.
We are all different. It’s why we became friends with these people, and why travelling with them is going to be exciting. But sometimes, in ensuring that we do what we wanted to do, disagreements and unpleasantness can arise that might spoil the mood and, in severe cases, the whole trip.
When travelling together, learning to give and take is happening amongst everyone in your group, but it’s up to you to make the most of these moments by taking the chance to be flexible, open-minded, and understanding. ‘Yeah, I’m pretty scared of creepy-crawlies, but let’s give this street stall a try because you want to.’ Or, ‘I didn’t know you were so scared of bugs, let’s go to that restaurant we walked past instead.’
Compromising is pretty fun, depending on your perspective, and can usually exceed your expectations when fueled by the rush of stepping outside your comfort zone in a foreign country.
Whether they mention it during the planning for your trip or not, everyone has their agenda for travelling with this group. (Sometimes that agenda has only to do with a person in the group, with no concern for itinerary.)
And because of all the time you’re spending together, that agenda is going to reveal itself during the trip, whether in frustration or subtle, passive-aggressive silences, that might send your plans down the drain. These confrontations are just one of the many ways in which travelling together enforces communication, as you see your friends in a more revealing light.
From planning together, to dealing with unexpected events, you’ll be forced at some point to say how you really feel which, again, has outcomes that can go both ways. Communicating what you want out of the trip, and listening to what your friends want, might require that extra effort, but can take your travelling experiences to the next level.
Exposing your other sides
Another part of stepping outside your comfort zone involves doing things out of character, like making a decision or being the impetus when everyone else is hesitating.
Just as being in another country is a chance to be someone else without fear of judgement, because no one knows you, travelling together creates opportunities to reveal another side of yourself to your friends.
Taking the lead in haggling for a discount, or letting someone else decide what to have for dinner, can astound your friends or affront the subliminal machinations of the group’s dynamic, disrupting events in the best or worst way. And your friends obviously recognize and know you, so there might be some judgement when you take those leaps, but it shows a person is comfortable enough to break out and show another side, which could be great for friendships (Point #3 comes in handy if the situation gets sticky).
Travelling together, you’ll definitely see what your friends are genuinely like, and this could potentially make or break your friendships, but see it as a chance to strengthen your bonds. There’s nothing like making and handling mistakes, great decisions, and pleasant surprises to make your friendships even stronger, and travelling with your buddies is a sure-fire set up for such opportunities. Pack some patience and empathy, and never forget why you’re travelling together in the first place.