Post Updated Feb 24, 2023
Have you ever told yourself “This trip is taking too long, I can’t wait to be home. I should just travel solo next time.“
Countless times I’ve read and heard stories of people fighting, worse ending relationships because they traveled together. Why? Personal differences.
On a recent post I saw in one of the travel support groups I’m in, one traveler asked for help because she “suddenly” had to travel solo for the remaining days of her Japan trip. The reason? She fought with her friend, her only travel companion.
I assumed she isn’t used to traveling alone that’s why she sought help from the support group. Many replied to her, assuring her that it’s okay to travel alone in Japan and that it’ll be a different experience. Some said to make peace with her friend, as she should, but maybe not so soon as they’re still upset with each other.
Anything can happen when traveling and inconveniences are inevitable. Most people tend to reveal their true character when traveling as they are no longer in their comfort zone. How they handle issues will show their “true colors”. And that’s why I tell friends to travel with someone they’re interested in if they want to know the person more and to see if their personalities match.
I’ve traveled with plenty of people, different groups with different personalities, and what I’ve learned from my experiences is that…
#1 You can’t travel with everybody
“Let’s keep the friendship, let’s not travel together” — harsh is it not? But it is what it is.
Sometimes people’s characteristics, likes, and interests just don’t go well together. No matter how hard you try to adjust and compromise, at some point you’ll break into a fight. The more you force it, the more you risk your relationship.
“So what are you trying to say here, Dee? What should I do?”
If you’re traveling with a long-time friend, you probably know his/her traits, likes, and dislikes. You know what habit of his/hers can irritate you. If you’re willing to look past that, then that’s good. If you can’t, then just stick to your usual night outs and overnight trips — which leads me to my second tip…
#2 You start small (or short)
You see, not all people are good company for long periods of time. Either they get bored too easily, they’re not adventurous like you, you have polar interests, they like to hike and you don’t like to walk, you move faster and they’re too slow, you want to be ready by 8 AM but they shower too long or they wake up so late, you like the beach and they hate the sun, etc… I can list so many things…
What to do? Test the waters. Start small — go for night outs, sleepovers, or weekend trips. If you like their vibe, then great. If you feel like you can spend more time or days with that person, then you can plan a longer trip.
#3 You set expectations
In every group, there’s always one person who loves to plan or is tasked to plan every get-together, sleepover, night out, beach trip, and/or out-of-town trip. I only know of one group of type-A people which means they all love to plan, but that’s like 1 out of 100 friend groups.
If you’re that person who loves (or is forced) to plan, always remember to set expectations.
I am the planner in our group, obviously. Every time I start planning for a trip, I always ask my friends if they have expectations or if they have places or activities that they want to do, and if they have non-negotiables.
I try my best to accommodate all requests but I will be very direct about things that are not really doable, attainable, or worth it. For instance: You’re traveling to (Tokyo) Japan for four (4) days only. Friend A wants to go to Mt. Fuji and Hokkaido. Is that doable? Yes. But would it be worth it? No, because it will be too cramped to fit all destinations in just four (4) days. What should you do? Just tell your friend that it’s going to be a waste of money and time and you will probably not enjoy the trip because most of your time will be spent on train rides. Set an expectation that you will only be able to visit towns/cities nearer Tokyo.
Another example would be identifying your non-negotiables. In my travel group, our non-negotiable is having a private bathroom. No matter where we stay, we need to have a private bathroom. That expectation has been made clear to me (the planner), that way whenever I look for accommodations, I always look for a private bathroom. Everybody’s happy!
These situations differ from one friend group to another, so just try to work it out with your friends.
#4 You lay down rules
I’m not saying this to be the party-pooper-mother-of-all-dragons type of friend. I’m just suggesting this because this might work for you.
What do I mean by laying down rules? I don’t mean having a curfew and stuff like that. Laying down rules means setting bathroom rotations — who goes first and last. Setting rules means deciding whether you want to have pot money for basic and daily expenses or you’d rather manage your expenses individually. If it involves a road trip, who’s the driver and who’s the shotgun?
These are basic “rules” but important ones.
#5 You just go with the flow
I love to plan and stay organized but I am very flexible when it comes to traveling. I always say to my friends that our itinerary is just a reference. As long as everybody’s in and game, we’ll go where our feet will take us. I just like to have an itinerary for the reason that I also don’t want us to waste time thinking about where to go or what to do.
In one of our trips, I booked a hotel only to figure out upon arrival that it’s no longer operating and its listing hasn’t been updated on the booking platforms. The building has been converted into a residential condominium and there’s nothing we can do but request a refund and book another hotel. Did it ruin our trip? No, not really. We had to drop items from our itinerary but we still had the best time.
As I said, anything can happen when traveling and inconveniences are inevitable. What’s important is how you respond and react to these situations. Sometimes the best experiences come from unexpected situations.
#6 You don’t have to force it
Don’t force people to come with you on a trip.
This is something I have learned over time. I have learned to enjoy my own company. I have learned not to rely on or wait on my friends to go on a trip. It’s because there are times when my interests don’t really go well together with theirs, or their schedule won’t allow it, or they don’t leave credits, etc… And that’s totally okay.
Apart from our hobbies and jobs, we all have traits, quirks, habits, interests, specific preferences, and different personalities. These make us unique individuals. We just need to understand and respect that and not force our ways, especially when it comes to traveling.
Think of a friend who shares similar interests as you and is easy to invite on a trip. Start from there and slowly build your travel tribe.
I have found my travel tribe. I’ve been with several groups of people and I still stick with these guys because we share the same interests, we have the same wavelength (personality-wise), and we have totally adjusted to our traveling styles.
I still travel with my other friends but I do have a mental list of who I don’t want to travel with again. And don’t get me wrong, we’re still friends, I just don’t have the energy to deal with them when traveling and I refuse to let that ruin our friendship.
I hope this entry is helpful and I hope you can finally say to your friend “until our next trip!”
If you have any questions, or if you want some tips, feel free to leave a comment or message via e-mail. If you like this article and want to see or know more about my other trips and tips, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.