Travelling with friends is an exciting prospect, promising unforgettable adventures and shared memories. However, the dynamics of travel can sometimes stir unexpected tensions, putting friendships to the test. To ensure that your travel experience is filled with laughter and joy rather than disputes and disagreements, it's essential to navigate the potential pitfalls wisely. Here Stella Ladikos, therapist and Founder of Meraki Mental Health Training, lists her top tips to avoid conflict.
1.Agree on plans before you leave.
Everyone has a different idea of their dream holiday. For some, that might mean adventure and exploring all day everyday, and for others it might mean entering sloth mode and slowing right down. For many it’s a combination of the two.
You can balance everyone’s wants and needs by pre-planning your holiday together, before you go. This gives you all time to research any activities you might want to do and present them to the group, and you can all decide upfront which activities you are and aren’t interested in.
2. Remember you don’t have to do everything together.
Sometimes when we’re travelling with friends, we might feel like we need to do everything together as a group. This is probably the worst idea you’ve ever had.
There will undoubtedly be differences in how you want to spend your time, as well as different energy levels and natural body clocks. If one person in the group is an early riser and wants to catch a sunrise hike every morning, you don’t need to participate if that’s not your cup of tea.
In fact, I actually think group trips actually work better when everyone has the opportunity for a little space. Set the tone before you leave and discuss as a group that you may end up having some time apart.
Try and emphasise that if you need some alone time or choose not to join an activity, it’s not personal.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
If you’re going to be spending an extended period of time with your pals, especially if it’s your first trip away together, you need to remember they can’t read your mind. Let’s be real, most arguments happen when you’re hangry, or they’re the cumulation of a few smaller things.
So keep your friends updated on how you’re feeling and what you want to do, and ask them to do the same for you. By regularly checking in with eachother, you’re able to air any grievances before they become all encompassing.
4. Be willing to compromise.
Travelling as a group will almost always mean there is some aspect of compromise in your day. Whether it’s choosing where you’ll eat, what you’ll do, or where you’ll go, it’s unlikely that everyone will always want the same thing, and that’s okay.
The thing about compromise though, is that everyone needs to be willing to compromise. If you find that you are the only one willing to bend over and over again, then it’s important to bring this up with your friends.
Everyone should be happy to compromise when making decisions as a group, so you can land on something that everyone is happy with.
5. Look after yourself.
Just because you’re on holiday with a group, doesn’t mean you should throw your usual self care practices to the side.
Travelling somewhere new can have anxiety bubbling to the surface for many of us, so it’s important to look after yourself while on your trip. You’re less easily agitated and more likely to speak up for your needs and compromise on decisions when you’re feeling your best.
Your usual self care might include some daily exercise, mindfulness, getting enough sleep and holding firm to your boundaries - please don’t stop doing these things just because you’re away from home.
Sure, you probably don’t need to follow your usual routine to a tee, but make sure you’re building time into your day to fill your cup.