Have Friends, Will Travel

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Combining an impromptu getaway with an overdue bonding session with your friends might seem like the perfect antidote to summer doldrums. To ensure that the trip is memorable, you’ll want to keep drama to a minimum. Here are a few pointers to ensure the group’s vacation is a complete success.

  1. Size up your travel partners
  2. Gauging a close friend’s approach to travel may not be too difficult — but what about the friend he’s bringing along? If you can, take a day trip nearby to test the group’s compatibility.

  3. Give yourself a cushion
  4. Perhaps the idea of traveling with others appeals to you, but you’re still recovering from a shared vacation nightmare. You may wish to meet the rest of the group a few days into the trip or extend your stay past their planned departure. Splitting a trip this way might be a relief to those who value going it alone, but who would enjoy sharing a part of their vacation with others.

  5. Don’t compromise
  6. This is meant only partially in jest. Of course you should take the desires of your travel partners into consideration when creating an itinerary for the day. However, if your travel buddies scoff at the idea of schlepping across the city to a little known gallery that you’re dying to check out, don’t fret. Remember that this is your vacation — go your own way and seek out what will make you happy.

  7. Three’s a (nice-sized) crowd
  8. Generally speaking, the smaller the group the less complicated the travel — therefore traveling in a pair might be easiest. However, unless you’re best buds with your partner, it might be pleasing to have a third or fourth “wheel.” While two of you go shopping, the other two may opt to hang back at the hotel pool.

  9. Traveling duty-free
  10. After years spent toying with the idea of traveling together, the whole gang finally picks a destination — southern Spain. Since you have rented an apartment in Seville several times (lucky dog), your friends assume that you, the expert, will plan the group’s trip. Kindly thank them for the honor and graciously steer them towards your favorite travel resources. You should not be held responsible for the success (or failure) of the trip. Give everyone a chance to weigh in on the group’s itinerary.

  11. Don’t panic. Prioritize!
  12. “If there were only more hours in the day?” is the standard lament of many gung ho travelers. You may be tempted to schedule every waking hour of your group’s trip to maximize those precious hours. Don’t. Less is more. Pick the day’s priorities and reserve sufficient time to devote to each one. Anything else you can fit in is just icing on the cake.

  13. Money matters
  14. Nothing sinks a trip like a fallout over money. When it comes to financing and budgeting a trip with friends, never assume anything. How will you split costs? Who will put what on their credit card? Does everyone fancy splurging for a few nice dinners out? While it can be uncomfortable talking about money, clearing the air before you go will make for smoother sailing.

  15. Go with the flow
  16. Hindsight affords us the luxury of knowing when we’ve overreacted. Sure, your bed partner’s dramatic snoring might have had you searching for ear plugs most nights, but in the light of day her nocturnal noises were funnier than they were grating. The shabby hotel room he booked is legendary on the group’s return as the spot where the crew “roughed it.” Keep this phenomenon in mind when you feel yourself getting worked up over something that will appear trivial in five months’ time.

— Katie Hamlin