We’ve all been there. You’re traveling with a group of friends, having a great time, but then someone has a breakdown.
My friends and I use the expression H.A.L.T. to describe this moment. Usually a breakdown happens because a person is: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. The worst part about hitting a HALT breaking point is that it can not only ruin your day, but it can ruin everyone else’s too.
And typically, the larger the group of people, the more likely that you’ll experience these moments.
The best way to avoid this pitfall and have an amazing group trip is to be prepared. Follow these simple tips, and help everyone on the journey have a fulfilling and stress-free time.
#1 – Get Organized
You don’t have to be an Excel Master, but getting plans organized will help immensely in preparing for your trip. My friends and I like to collaborate on a Google Sheet. Try labeling each column by day, and plan out meals and activities in the rows below. If you’re feeling really type-A, you can color coordinate things. Staying organized doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous; in fact, it allows for more fruitful spontaneity. Having an itinerary will help give your trip purpose each day, and the framework to easily go off-schedule too.
#2 – Communicate Early and Often
When planning a trip with friends, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month-long excursion in another country, communication is the key to success (while planning and on your trip). A friend of mine pointedly says, “Unmet expectations lead to premeditated resentments.” Simply put, if you have expectations that you never voice, they might not be fulfilled, and you might end up feeling resentful. This, more than anything, can be the ultimate trip ruiner. It’s important that you and your friends talk about what it is you want to do on your trip, the things you want to see, places you want to eat. Again, keeping these conversations organized will help everyone know what’s important to others (see Tip 1).
#3 – Know Where To Spend Your Money
One of my most important rules for vacation is to not stress about money. When you begin to pinch every penny, your stress levels go up and take away from the beautiful experiences before you. It’s important while planning a trip to prioritize your budget according to the things that matter most. For some, the accommodations are everything, so you may spend a bulk of your budget on that fancy resort (and make sandwiches for lunch to save some money). For others, it’s all about experiences — in which case, you’ll want to research the excursions you might take so you’re prepared for those costs. To save money on housing, check out safe and affordable options like hostels or AirBnb.
#4 – Plan Some “Me-Time”
Group travel is great, but even the most extroverted people should carve out some “me-time”. Take a morning jog alone, or find a few hours to slip away to a coffee shop for some reading or people watching. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you or brings you joy, find time to do it on your trip to clear your head and center yourself. The best time for this is usually around the halfway or three-quarter mark of the trip. If you’re on a trip for more than a couple weeks, you should aim for several moments of “me-time”.
#5 – Do Something You Don’t Want To
Part of what makes traveling with friends great is experiencing something new together. Step out of your comfort zone, and do that thing you said you ‘wouldn’t be caught dead’ doing. You’ll look back on the trip and be grateful you experienced something new with the people you care about, regardless of how terrifying or weird it seemed at the time.
#6 – Photo Sharing
Taking a trip with friends means you’ll all be snapping away on your phones, capturing different perspectives. An easy way to avoid the daily “hey can you text me that one photo” routine is to start a shared photo album. If you’re all using iPhones, you can easily start a shared iCloud album and add photos to it each day. If not, Google can save the day. Create a photo folder on your Google Drive, and add everyone to it. You’ll love being able to look back on all the photos.