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How to Deal With Friends While Traveling

Insider Guides
by Mike Jones Jul 21, 2009
Traveling with a group of friends isn’t always easy. Here are some tips to help you deal.

FOR MONTHS, YOU’VE been excited about you and six of your friends traveling through Southeast Asia together. It’s going to be an amazing trip!

But one month into your six-month journey, you’ve begun to despise the way that Friend 1’s jaw clicks when he eats. You can’t stand the penny pinching of Friend 2 or the fussy dietary needs of Friend 3.

Finally, the whining about everything else from Friends 4, 5 and 6 is driving you crazy.

These people are ruining what was supposed to be the most amazing trip ever!

Could This Have Been Avoided From the Start?

I know that traveling with a large number of your friends may sound like the coolest thing ever, but the truth is, more buddies often equals more problems.

Try keeping the number of travel companions small. A group of between 2 – 4 friends is a good size.

Next, know who you’re traveling with. Outside of culture shock, learning to co-exist with the people you’ve chosen to travel with is probably the biggest adjustment that you’ll learn to make on the road.

Sure, everyone gets along back home when you’re partying together, but you need to find travel partners who you already know you can spend lots of time with.

It’s also a good idea to learn beforehand what sort of traveling your companions have in mind.

For example, there’s no point having your heart set on temples and jungle treks if everyone you’re traveling with wants to just lay on the beach all day.

Tell your friends what you want to do. If their eyes begin glazing over, you might want to rethink your trip with these people.

Not to suggest that everyone you travel with must want to do exactly what you want to do…but why knowingly put yourself in a position that’s prime for future contention?

It’s Too Late For All That, I Need Help Now!

If you didn’t find out beforehand that no one you’re traveling with has the same travel style, that’s okay too.

Remember that you’re not all contractually obligated to be together 24-7. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to travel and different places mean different things to everyone.

If plans differ, don’t feel bad about suggesting that everyone does their own thing. Traveling with others requires personal space now and then.

Still no peace?

Try removing yourself from disagreements before they become arguments. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter how your friend thinks that the island of Phuket is pronounced. Just let it be.

Arguing is a huge waste of your time and your trip. In the past when I’ve had problems with my travel companions, I’ve simply gone quiet, speaking when spoken to and otherwise spending my time seeing and exploring. It works.

If all else fails, you can always just tell the truth.

Once while traveling across Italy with a group of friends, several setbacks to our plans, financial problems and outright exhaustion had us all at each others’ throats.

We decided then and there to sit down, drink a bottle of vodka, and tell one another what annoyed us about each other.

This sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it actually worked. From that point on, we were all aware of the boundaries and feelings of one another on various topics. It didn’t completely cure our fighting, but it did help to calm things down a great deal.

Relax, Reflect, Repair

Last but not least, don’t forget to be patient with your friends.

Yes, they may say and do a lot of things that drive you crazy. Just try to remember that culture shock and jet lag can make people behave differently than you ever thought they would.

This includes you, too. Anyone who grew up with siblings has probably heard their mother tell them that it takes two to argue. Well, Mom, you were right.

Before you make the big choice to tell all your travel buddies that they are horrible people, take a look at yourself.

Self-reflection is no easy task, but an afternoon of introspection might be just the thing to make you realize that many arguments can be avoided.

Travel can be brutally revealing at times. Don’t avoid the truths that often become evident as a result. It’s all part of the experience. In the end, a traveler who can rapidly adjust to less than ideal situations is a wise one.

The bad times won’t last, so learn to build up your patience levels in order to ensure that the good times do.

Community Connection!

If you want to connect with like-minded travelers, check out the people of the Matador travel community. If you need to go solo for a while, well, we’ve got you covered there too – check out the popular article How to Escape an Undesirable Travel Mate.

Happy travels!

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