After what feels like a lifetime of social isolation, a friendcation is the perfect way to reconnect with friends and strengthen old bonds (think of it as a family reunion of sorts). As the name implies, a friendcation is a vacation with a friend or group of friends. You could also call it a group trip or group travel, but neither of those roll off the tongue quite as smoothly, do they?
Whether you’re having wholesome conversations over dinner, going for luxury spa sessions with your bestie or enjoying a much-needed gab session over cocktails, a proper friendcation can lead to some of the best memories of your life.
However, there’s a spoiler alert: It isn’t always going to be a perfect trip. From arguments about the right accommodation to fights about preferred activities, we can’t ignore the issues that typically accompany vacations with friends. But not to worry, we’re here to help you avoid that.
With these ten tips for planning a group trip, you can have the travel experience of a lifetime with minimal friendship drama:
1. Consider travel goals and travel styles
Are you aiming for non-stop adventure or more sleep-ins and rest time? Will the group trip involve more luxury, nature or parties? Having these conversations will reduce unnecessary fights during the holiday. Not everyone can have similar travel styles, but we recommend open discussions about the most important things.
2. Align on budgets
Sure, we all want to stay in the fanciest places and eat the best meals, but finding a middle ground is essential for a friendcation. Be open about what you’re able to afford on the trip beforehand, so no one feels like they’re diminishing the experiences of others or being a party-pooper. Plan some free or super affordable activities, like a trip to the museum, because who doesn’t like saving some money?
3. Plan early, plan well
Have a well-defined travel plan — where you’ll be staying, what you’ll be doing, what the budget is. This will lead to fewer arguments as you’ll be on the same page. Make sure to plan the seemingly little things like airport arrival times, so one person isn’t arriving when check-in closes. Also, remember to book things early.
4. View this as an opportunity to learn more about each other
Whether it’s having intimate conversations after one too many martinis or randomly discovering things about your friends that you never knew, friendcations are an exciting way to get to know each other better. As you create new memories and conquer fears in a different part of the world, you’ll learn so much more about your favourite people.
5. Understand that it’s okay to experience things on your own
Going on a friendcation doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. If no one else is interested in visiting that iconic attraction you’ve dreamt about for months, by all means, go alone. That way, you’ll avoid resentment. Doing things alone will help you recharge, anyway.
6. Be flexible
I know we said you should plan, but you need to be flexible, too. Discovering new things along the way is part of the magic of a friendcation, so don’t be too strict with the arrangements. You need to hear everyone out, consider opinions and compromise along the way.
7. Don’t over-schedule
While planning is excellent, leave room in the itinerary. Scheduling too many activities can leave the group feeling overwhelmed. It’ll also give you time to listen to your bodies and know what each person needs at different times.
8. Be okay with the mundane
Trust us, group trips are not always roses, glasses of wine and rollercoasters. Every second of the trip won’t be exciting, and you need to be okay with that. You may need some downtime and that’s okay.
9. Be tolerant
A diversity of opinions can be pretty difficult to tolerate when you’re independent and strong-willed (read: stubborn) but varied thoughts, ideas and lifestyles are some of the things that make friendcations so memorable. While things that seem normal to you might really be foreign to others, learning to be tolerant will eliminate a lot of the drama. It’s also a good idea to give room for excesses. Bad days happen to the best of us so be compassionate towards mistakes.
10. Split the responsibilities
Dividing the tasks so no one feels overstretched can be a great way to plan. Perhaps, you’re great at finding all the best hotel deals and your best friend is excellent at picking thrilling activities. It’s smart to create a list and split everything.