I’ve done less travelling alone than one might think; I always manage to find someone to take with me, whether it’s a mate, a partner (back when I had a long-term boyfriend we went abroad a lot), a random person off social media (I do this a lot!), OR I just go and meet someone on the way or while I’m there.
Solo travel is GREAT and I definitely enjoy the freedom, but I also love travelling with other people… there’s something so fun about it! And depending on who you travel with, you can have a totally different experience to what you might normally have 😉
I actually have 2 or 3 ‘go-to’ people for travelling… they’re the ones who are on the receiving end of my messages that normally as simple as this:
Me: Right, you up for Poland in 3 weeks?
Mate: Yeah, what dates?
Me: 12-17? Pretty flexible though
Mate: Sounds good, let’s book it later
I think I have this conversation probably twice a week!!
Anyway, going away with friends and acquaintances alike many times has taught me many things about how to deal with travelling with other people…. here’s what I’ve learnt!
1. GIVE PEOPLE SOME SPACE!
People need their time and space when stuck to others for days on end. Don’t take it personally when someone needs time away from you!
2. BE HONEST
On the same subject, if you need space to reflect or just be alone, tell your friends – nicely. Don’t let tension explode into arguments! Just be honest – and be someone who can handle other people’s honesty too!
Sometimes you have to compromise and skip something you want to do for someone else to do something they want to do… and the favour needs to be repaid.
4. GO SOLO
Just because you’re travelling with friends doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. Invest in a portable charger and make sure you have a phone on you. If you need to go solo for a few hours then so be it.
5. BE GENEROUS
Money. Some people have more than others. If you’re the one with more be generous with your money. It’s not going to kill you to pay for a couple of things to make sure your poorer mates fully enjoy the experience with you.
6. KEEP EACH OTHER SAFE
If you’re traveling with friends NEVER leave anyone behind.
Don’t leave them alone to walk streets drunk.
Never let a mate go to a random house alone, or go off with a random person on their own.
And never ever, EVER leave your friends to be harassed by dudes in bars, the streets etc without showing you’re by their side for backup. Some countries have different cultures around this stuff and it’s just not worth your trip being spoilt by having to fight harassment (which is sadly super common in every country).
Now this stuff is all basic safety but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do these… oh and while we’re here – don’t let any one “borrow” “look after” or take your passport for any sort of “administrative” reason.
A lot of countries require foreigners to carry ID on them at all time, and some people are only pretending to be nice so they can steal your stuff.
7. DON’T RELY ON OTHERS TOO MUCH
Keep a copy of all maps, directions, contact numbers, whatever you need to navigate alone.
Don’t rely on the person travelling with you. You never know what might happen and it’s best to know you can rely on yourself.
If you’re like me and can’t read a map, it’s worth making the effort to get Google maps working on your phone whilst abroad before you go. You’ll only regret it when you get lost or have some sort of emergency and can’t find your way to anything familiar…
8. BE PATIENT
It’s a difficult thing to perfect but it’s something you’re gonna need when travelling with others.
Some people get hangry (hungry when they’re angry). Some get sick or affected by planes. Some people are shy when meeting people. Some people are frustrated easily. Patience is really a key component of doing any sort of long journey with someone else!
9. USE STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
Understand your weaknesses and strengths, and that of your travel mates.
I have friends who are particularly nervous when it comes to navigating public transport they’re not familiar with, yet are really great at chatting to random strangers and making us some new friends.
I have friends who are amazing at keeping a sense of excitement and fun going even when everyone is tired, but they’re awful at budgeting their money (haha). Play with yours and their strengths and weaknesses!
10. LET PEOPLE ZONE OUT
When you’re travelling with others people sometimes need to zone out and do that strange stare thing where their face freezes and they’re clearly thinking of something… it’s probably because they’re tired.
Don’t keep asking if they’re ok. Just let them have the small amount of time without communication or any sort of interaction and in a couple of minutes they’ll wake back up (I think everyone does this..)
11. CONSIDER OTHERS’ CHOICES
Respect and consider other people’s choices.
Some people are vegetarian or vegan. It’s not hard to find a place where they can eat too.
…Apart from if you’re in Prague and are looking for veggie food, then it’s impossible unless you’re happy to just eat dessert for every meal 😉
Actually, when this happened I said to my meat-loving friend, “You know what, let’s just accept that I’m not going to find any good veggie options in this city. So from now on you choose where to eat, and sample all the stuff you keep dribbling over, and I’ll just eat potatoes. And next time we go somewhere I’ll choose a few places just for me to have a nice meal”.
It’s called compromise. I wasn’t going to find anything for me anyway so I might as well just let my friend make the most of the meat dishes!
12. TRY NOT TO ARGUE
Travelling is hard. People get stressed. They can snap without meaning to. They can be passive aggressive. Sometimes they argue. Try to remember it’s not their fault, it’s the situation.
Try not to make it worse and inflame the situation. Don’t react too much! Sometimes it’s easier to give people the benefit of the doubt rather than argue with them.
13. TRY TO SYNC AS MUCH AS POSS
If you’re travelling from/to different locations (for example, my best mate lives in England and I live in France), try to be considerate of how much effort people put in compared to you.
For example, when my mate from England and I go abroad we book our travel and half the total cost so we both pay the same. And we time our flights so we arrive around the same time.
So next year when we go to the Czech Republic, she arrives in the location before me and waits an hour alone for me. But on the way back she goes first and I wait an hour alone before my flight. Compromise!