Seeing the world with your best friend can be absolutely incredible! And, if you plan your trip right, you will cherish your shared experiences for the rest of your lives. But, before your journey begins, please take a moment to consider some of the stumbling blocks that can present themselves before you’ve even left the house.
Below, you’ll find some helpful tips that I’ve compiled to help you navigate these sometimes sticky situations so that you and your bestie will have an amazing adventure instead of a stress-filled escapade.
1. Choose your travel partner wisely. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Are you an adventurous eater while your friend is a picky eater? Do you prefer to hit a museum in the city while your friend would rather go for a bike ride? Weigh your preferences carefully against those of your potential travel partner. You’re not going to change — and neither will your friend — simply because you’re on vacation together. If your travel styles aren’t a good fit, perhaps it’s best not to travel together.
2. Establish a clear budget. Money matters. Make it very clear during the initial planning stages how much you can afford to spend on your adventure. Be specific. Everyone’s definition of a ‘reasonable budget’ is different. Identify the exact dollar amount you can afford to spend. Obvious considerations for your adventure are accommodations and airfare, but don’t forget to include food, sightseeing and excursions.
3. Manage your own money. Even after establishing a budget on the front end, money matters can still cause stress. To avoid conflicts once you’ve arrived at your destination, pay for as much as possible upfront and have a plan for who pays for what — and how — once you reach your destination. Sure, going Dutch sounds reasonable, but it’s not always practical. Sometimes, it may just be easier to let your friend pay for your latte instead of making two separate purchases. Reciprocate by picking up the tab for the next coffee. Or, if money is a big concern, settle up with your friend at the end of each day.
4. Work with a travel professional. Travel agents can save you both time AND money. By using a skilled professional, the burden of researching, planning and booking your trip won’t fall to one party. Travel agents are highly-skilled in crafting itineraries that meet your needs and your expectations. Additionally, they may be able to get you discounts and value-added amenities not otherwise available. Bonus: If a problem were to arise, your travel agent would be able to address it quickly, alleviating unwanted stress for you and your friend.
5. Identify your ‘must-sees’. Early in the planning process, you’ll determine the destination and the length of your trip. But you may overlook some of the finer points of the trip (another reason to use a travel professional). For example, you may assume that just because you want to spend the entire day exploring the Louvre that your friend does, too. Imagine your surprise upon arriving in Paris when you learn that your friend had planned to indulge in some sensational shopping instead. One of you will come away disappointed and resentful if you don’t have time for both activities. So, it is very important that you specifically identify the things each of you want to see and do on the trip. If your time is limited, booking an escorted tour featuring sights and activities that are important to both of you is a great way to ensure you both of you go home satisfied.
6. Spend time apart. Even if you’ve been friends for decades, too much time together can lead to unwanted stress during a trip. If you are comfortable venturing out alone, it may be wise to spend a few hours apart along the way. This is especially true if you’re away for several weeks. For example, don’t be afraid to spend the afternoon exploring Amsterdam’s canals on a bike while your friend indulges in some retail therapy along the Nine Streets. You can meet up for dinner and recap the day’s adventures!
7. Be present. Your trip is about making memories TOGETHER. Unplug. Don’t spend of all your time texting with family and friends back home or checking in on Facebook. Make the most of your time together by being present for your friend.
8. Be thoughtful. There are a million tiny ways that thoughtfulness can have a big impact on your time together. Take turns opening doors, especially if you’ve been doing some shopping. When you refill your teacup, ask if your friend would like a refill as well. Offer to take pictures of your friend. Sure, she can take selfies. But how about offering to take some styled photos as well? And don’t forget my personal favorite: Take some candid shots of your friend throughout your trip! Some of my favorite photos are ones that my bestie took of me when I least expected it. It’s such a fun, thoughtful way to commemorate your time together.
9. Over-communicate. Chances are very good that your friend isn’t a mind reader. To avoid potential conflicts and misunderstandings, communicate with your friend clearly and often. If you don’t communicate your wants and needs to your friend, most likely she will never know.
Yes, traveling with your best friend can be simply amazing and the memories you make will last a lifetime. But, if not handled property, traveling together can be a stressful experience that leads to awkwardness (and, potentially, the end of a friendship) once you return home. Please use these tips to plan a trip that both of you will cherish for years to come.
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Use these tips to help you get the most out of your girlfriends’ getaway — and call me, Sandy!
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Ready to book your next vacation? Get started today by calling me at (703) 975-1747!