How to travel with friends, happily

Understanding your friends' expectations and agreeing on how to track expenditure will help to make for a pleasant trip

Taking a vacation with friends could turn out to be the getaway of a lifetime or one that is a total disaster. How do you make sure the trip is a success?

It is all about choosing the right travel partners and going in with some ground rules, said Ms Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare, an online travel company that specialises in private custom group trips.

"Vacationing with friends sounds like a good idea, but, in reality, that's not always the case and these trips can lead to broken friendships," she said.

She shares her top tips on planning a vacation with friends that will be memorable in the right kind of way.

Establish expectations first

You may think that you and a friend have the same idea of a holiday because you both want to go to the beach, but you might be interested in relaxing while your friend is looking forward to going to nightclubs.

"Make sure you understand each other's ideas of vacation or you are setting yourself up for conflict," Ms Biggs Bradley said.

Have an itinerary

When travelling with others, she said, set an agenda ahead of time to avoid any last-minute, tense negotiation. Either work with a travel adviser to create the itinerary or delegate one person in the group for the job - it should show when activities start and how long and what exactly they are.

And everything should be optional, so whoever is not interested does not have to join.

Build in some space

There is no need to be joined at the hip with your friend. In fact, taking breaks makes your time together more enjoyable. Order room service for breakfast one day or plan other meals and a few tours for just you and your family.

But, Ms Biggs Bradley said, it is best to schedule these ahead of time - not when you feel that you cannot spend another minute together.

Figure out money matters first

Deciding who is paying for what and how it will be tracked should be discussed before your trip.

"You can end up with one person who doesn't drink feeling angry that they are splitting the bills with people who order expensive bottles of wine. This is the kind of resentment that can doom a friendship," Ms Biggs Bradley said.

If you are with your family, she suggests either settling receipts at the end of the trip according to the size of each family or taking turns covering expenses.

Be aware of parenting styles

You want your children to stick to their usual bedtime while your friends do not care if theirs stay up till midnight. They want children included in every meal, but your idea of a vacation is adult-only dinners. Different ways to parent may not matter at home, but can be glaring on vacations.

"It may not be the best idea to vacation with others who have a totally different view on parenting, so discuss the topic when you're first talking about the potential trip," Ms Biggs Bradley said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'How to travel with friends, happily'. Print Edition | Subscribe