Over the past couple of decades, my friends and I have done a lot of traveling together. I have traveled with friends who like to ball out of control and those who have absolutely no money and don’t tell you until you arrive at the destination. I’ve traveled with neat and tidy friends and friends that are extremely messy. I’ve shared a room with self-aware friends and friends that have no clue they are annoying to share a room with.
After traveling with so many different types of friends, I have put together a few suggestions on how you can be a good travel companion:
- Be your best self inside the room. You are sharing a small space with someone for several days. Everything you do in the privacy of your own room, you cannot do with a travel buddy. Be extra tidy and clean to ensure that you are not crossing the cleanliness boundaries of your roomie.
- Discuss your “budget-style” ahead of time. It is an awkward conversation but it needs to be had. My preference on where to stay, at the minimum, is a full-service hotel. I like a hotel with a restaurant, a bar, and a pool on site. I like a hotel that offers room service. I tell my friends upfront my preferences and ask their preferences. I believe it is important to decide on the type of hotel, together, that will fit the needs of all parties, as well as everyone’s budget.
- Plan the agenda and activities prior to arrival into the destination. One time I went on a girls trip and everyone in the group had money for activities except one person. Needless to say, it made things difficult for the group because everyone wanted to participate in additional activities but no one wanted to leave anyone out. In situations like this, you are either in a position to front the money for the person that does not have it or you leave that person behind. Therefore, a conversation about budget and activities should be had prior to departure.
- Keep track of spending. Often times, you split bills or pay for things on your own, but sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way. Therefore, if one pays and the other doesn’t, write it down or pay the other person back as soon as possible. Don’t ever assume you don’t owe the other person or people in the group. Have the conversation or just ask. Don’t be the friend that never chips in just because no one says anything to you. Keep track of spending and don’t take other people’s coins for granted.
- Spend some time alone. When you travel with someone, you spend a lot of time together, so make it a point to give each other some alone time. If you are the first person to get up or get dressed, give the other some time alone in the room. When my mother and I shared a room, if she got dressed first, she would sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view while giving me my space in the room while I got dressed. I had another friend that would get up early every morning and walk the beach by herself. It gave both her and her roommate some alone time. If you see someone else doing it for you, take a clue and do it for them everyone once in a while.
- Don’t sleep shame. Everyone vacations differently. Some people want to go-go-go and some people want time to relax. If your travel companion is tired and ready to call it a night, respect and accept it and let them go to bed. You keep it moving. Don’t shame others for how they choose to use their vacation time. At the same time, if they want to sleep in, give them that. Be mindful of your noise level in the room and let that person be.
- Always communicate. You have to be fully honest with each other. I am an extremely adventurous person but my bestie is not as adventurous as I am. I express what I want to do and sometimes she has to draw the line in the sand and say no. For example, I wanted to do “Dinner in the Sky” in Dubai. She told me that it was not going to happen. I had to accept that. We discussed other activities and came to an agreement on several other things to do. What is important is, we discussed it, found activities that we both agreed upon, and everything was great.
- Be present. Traveling is about making memories and having a good time. Don’t spend all your time on the phone or social media. Engage with the people you are with. I know we all want to get our pictures posted, go live, and post stories. There is nothing wrong with that. However, don’t miss out on the opportunity that you have been blessed with. Be present and be in the moment.
I am sure we all think we are the best travel companions and we do nothing to bother other people when we are traveling together. Just because someone does not bring things to your attention doesn’t mean that you are not doing annoying things. We can’t all be perfect. We are humans and we all have our quirks and annoying behaviors. However, we can work to reduce those conflicts and annoying behaviors by putting a few of these tips in motion and working toward being the best travel companion we can be for the sake of our friends and friendships.