Travelling with friends is a lot of fun, but combining different personalities, wants and needs to keep everyone happy all on one holiday can leave your head spinning. Having been on a few holidays with friends over the years I share my top tips for ensuring your trip is a relationship strengthening exercise not a social nightmare…
Know your role
As is the case with any group, each person has their own personality and subsequently their role within the group dynamics. Naturally I am a planner, an organiser and a leader but in some groups I have to take the back seat purely because some friends are a little less able to accommodate and so as to avoid arguments I make sure I let them take the lead. In other friendship groups though if I didn’t step up and organise the holiday probably wouldn’t go ahead so you can be a follower in one and a leader in another. Sometimes you lead someone to exciting places and other times you are the one being taken on an adventure….
Holiday desires & budgets
Once you have approached the friends you want to go on holiday with and before you start my favourite part of holiday planning process – research, you need to have a clear idea of what type of holiday your friends want to go on; sightseeing or relaxation? The ideal duration; weekend trip or week-long break and everyone’s maximum budget. Discussing this early on prevents arguments later along the line, avoids disappointment and provides the opportunity for compromise. For example, back in May 2017 myself and three friends from University went to Nice for the Bank Holiday weekend and the reason we settled on this city was because it provided a mix of culture and beach – the idea compromise. So, if at this discussion stage you find that three people in your group want to go on a road trip but two would rather lie on the beach and relax – discuss if there’s room for compromise at all throughout the trip. There is little point getting further down the research route without talking money, considered rude I know but if you don’t know what everyone’s budget is then you could spend hours researching only for someone to turn around and say they can’t afford it.
When & Where?
Armed with an idea on what type of holiday you’d all like to go on and what your budget is the next challenge is deciding when and where. Having a Facebook or WhatsApp messenger chat set up that’s dedicated to discussing the holiday plans is MUCH easier than trying to communicate between several different individuals and relaying the same message over and over again like a broken record.
When? I don’t know if you find this but organising things with your friends as you get older starts to feel like some kind of army obstacle course. Everyone is balancing work, relationships, other friends, family commitments and hobbies so of course everyone gets busy – I’m always teased by my friends for being so booked up that they often can’t understand why I have to plan things so far in advance in order to actually see them! My suggestion to beat this issue is to first decide how long everyone wants to go away for and the way I get around this is polls, I love polls: one night, weekend trip or a week-long break – create your options and then let the group decide, I mean democracy works right? Ahem Brexit aside…. Once you have an overall winner you can look at a variety of date options. Choose four no need to complicate matters and yes you guessed it run another poll!
Where? This is when the budget kicks in, you can’t set your sights on Las Vegas when your friend has only budgeted £200 for flights and accommodation – unless you sleep on the streets when you get there it really just isn’t feasible. Now you know how long everyone wants to go for and when they want to go away you can research the travel distances from the UK (or your home towns if you decide to do a staycation) and look up climate conditions in various places during those months. Now for a group call!! Living apart from my friends it’s hard to get everyone in one place so from time to time if we need to organise anything we have a group Facebook messenger call – harness that technology people. Discuss over your ideas and together come up with a shortlist of around five destinations.
Research & Book
Now for the fun part, the research. Split out your shortlisted destination options between your group and ask each member to look into flights and accommodation options that fulfil the budget, duration and holiday type that the group are looking for.
For flights I’d recommend searching on Skyscanner and Google Flights you can search price differences dependant on departure dates which is great if you are flexible and you can edit departure times as well to compare the cost of flying to your destination with various airlines.
For accommodation you could look at HostelWorld for a massive selection of great cheap places to stay but two of my favourite places to look are Booking.com and AirBnB. The option to pay for accommodation upon arrival with Booking.com is very handy if you can’t afford to pay for everything up front, the website also combines hotels and apartments in one place and it’s incredibly easy to see customers reviews and book. I do enjoy staying in hotels and living the life of luxury but for budget stays and the chance to enjoy local life – nothing beats AirBnB. You can rent a flat or house to yourselves, cook up a storm in the kitchen and bring your own alcohol BONUS! Of course, staying in an AirBnB gives you direct access to the real authentic side of the destination you are visiting so you can wander off the beaten tourist track and meet the locals.
Booking as a group can be stressful but not in this modern day, dial up that group call grab a cuppa or a gin and sit ready armed with all your research to discuss the destination options you have each researched and decide on a final destination between yourselves. Assign one person in the group to book for everyone and then transfer funds to that person as soon as you can.
Where to eat? What to see? Again, another discussion point as a group although this is something that can be left until a few weeks before you go. Hit up TripAdvisor for a list of the best attractions and restaurants in your destination and if you are staying in an AirBnB don’t be afraid to ask your host for suggestions they often come up with restaurant and attraction suggestions that even google wouldn’t be able to help you discover.
Patience & Understanding
Often is the case that although you spend the evening or the day with your friends spending a substantial amount of time together in a confined space is hard. There is little to none personal space and very limited privacy at the end of the holiday you will discover quirks and characteristics you never knew your friend possessed. But you just need to remember to stay calm, be patient and extend some understanding. People get tired, they get hungry or cold or overheated and sometimes people even fall Ill on holiday – this is life and its best if you try not to take it out on each other, if you are stressed take a deep breath and count to 10 before you answer or speak to the group or individual who is grating on your last nerve. ENJOY – you paid for this holiday, you slaved through days at work for this holiday, you relax and enjoy sometimes you just have to bite your lip and wait till you get home to moan about somethings.
Have you gone on a holiday with friends what issues did you come across? Let me know in the comments