How to Travel with Friends – and Stay Friends

Getting Around By Stefan Zechner April 7, 2017

Going on a trip with friends has much higher stakes than grabbing a bite, seeing a movie, or playing Catan on game night. Everyone has different travel styles, and on the road, tensions run high. Anything from snoring on the train to picking the right coffee spot can start a bestie brawl.

So before you plan your next group trip, do everything you can to ensure the whole squad has an awesome trip.

Create a Private Facebook Group

Communication is key when it comes to coordinating travel logistics for a group, but email chains and group texts can cause notification overload. Try a private Facebook group. You can see who has viewed a post, create polls, and share files, like the finalized itinerary.

Make Use of Free Survey Services

Whether you’re using the polls in your private Facebook group or free tools like Doodle or SurveyMonkey, surveys are a great way to keep things constructive. There’s no awkward, pointed attacks if someone suggests something that another friend disagrees with.

Keep it democratic by creating polls for everything: hostel vs. Airbnb, car rental vs. public transportation, and things to do, including sites, restaurants, and excursions.

Group Plan on Google Sheets

If you don’t know about it yet, Google Sheets is about to be your new best friend.

Like a shared version of Excel, Google Sheets makes it easy to share travel planning findings with the group. Everyone can provide a few must-dos, must-sees, and must-eats, then star their favorite options or add notes.

Google Sheets is also a great place to store flight itineraries, hotel reservations, and other important information for everyone to reference.

Consider Organized Tours

Exploring on your own is part of the the fun, but if your GPS loses battery or you miss the last bus back to the city, your crew may get a little salty. Once your group reaches a certain size, it may be easier to join an organized tour for certain activities.

This doesn’t mean joining families and seniors on an educational tour, listening in on a 90s era Walkman. There are tons of companies offering excursions for small groups, like Yacht Week and Fat Tire Bike Tours. Plus, it can be nice to have a day (or more) without worrying about the logistics.

Bring Group Games

Be prepared for time-killing. Waiting at the airport, standing in line for sites, or just waiting for that one friend to finish getting ready can lead to petty arguing if you’re not prepared.

Take advantage of being in a group and bring some easily transported games, like Heads Up!, Cards Against Humanity, and Trivia Crack. It can even be as simple as having “Would you rather?” questions ready. If you’re all having fun tougher, you won’t even mind the waiting time.


Pack Some Snacks

Do you know what makes everyone less fun to be around? Being hangry. Since snacks may be hard to come by depending on your destination, everyone should come prepared with a few small snacks. Don’t just leave it for “the mom” of the group; remind everyone to throw a few granola bars in their bag.

Set up Group Photo Albums

Photo sharing has long been part of group travel, but now you don’t have to wait until you get home to enjoy the pics. Your squad can add photos and videos in one place using iCloud Photo Sharing (or the Cluster App for Android users). Group members can also like, comment, and save photos to their own devices.

You should also decide on a trip hashtag! This makes it easy to see photos from the trip all together on social media.

Don’t Be Shy About Money

There’s no way around it: your trip is going to cost money, and not everyone will owe equal amounts. Bill splitting apps like restaurant-centric Billr, or tab-tracking Splitwise can help ensure no one is paying more than their fair share.

If anything’s left at the end, your travel mates can send money with the Western Union app, which facilitates transfers to a qualifying bank account or agent location.

It’s also useful to create a group fund for joint expenses, like taxi rides. Everyone contributes the same amount at the beginning of the trip, tops up evenly if the fund runs dry, and receives a portion of the remainder if there is one.

Leave Things Loose

No matter how tight your group may be, spending day and night with the same people can lead to trouble.

If someone wants to relax in the park alone or lap back to a certain site they really loved, don’t make them feel bad about it. Also, don’t be afraid to split into smaller groups at times. Just download the right chat apps so you can all stay in touch when you’re without mobile data.

Even if you’re equipped with the group travel basics, like patience, flexibility, and open-mindedness, these tips shouldn’t go overlooked. With proper planning and the right tech, you can dial down the drama and maximize the fun.