To give you a bit of background, Ally and I met in 2013 when we were both living on the same freshmen floor at our college. We have been best friends since then and knew we wanted to go on a bigger adventure with each other senior year (we've already been pretty adventurous, see skydiving as exhibit A, but exploring the west coast was a new area we wanted to take on).
We flew into San Francisco and then traveled down scenic highway 1 (full itinerary to come soon). The biggest realization we had over the course of the trip is that I am a city girl and Ally is a wilderness girl. Honestly, this shouldn't have been that big of a surprise, but it did have an impact on how we navigated the trip and how we each wanted to spend our time. In one of the followup posts I am going to go into determining and planning for California depending on your preferences: nature v. culture. For now, I'm just going to address how to successfully travel with a friend.
01. Set expectationsThis is a BIG ONE. When traveling with someone else it is imperative to be on the same page for the goals of your trip. Are you going for relaxation? Sightseeing? A combination? Will you be getting up early? Closely following an itinerary? Going out every night? Especially if you are traveling with a small group or one other person it is so important to have clear expectations because splitting up is generally not an option.
Have a series of conversations prior to your trip where you talk about what you would like to get out of your travels and see where you may have to make some adjustments. And even before deciding if you'd like to travel together it is good to do some trial runs. Try taking a day trip and seeing if at the end you are ready to part ways or if you would still like to spend time together.
02. Make strategic decisions
Like I referenced before, Ally and I have different travel preferences; she likes to explore nature and I love cultural experiences. This means that we have to make travel decisions for our destination and activities that incorporate these elements and give us both a little of what we want. Making your preferences known when in the planning stages and making decisions that align with what you both like will make it easier to have a mutually enjoyable trip.
03. Be flexibleWhen you travel things go wrong. Conflicts arise, plans fall through, the weather works against you. Being with someone who will help you solve problems and who is a partner is the best way to have successful travels. Even the best laid plans cannot always work out, so being prepared to adjust course and do it with a smile on your face will make it a positive experience not only for you, but for those you are with.
04. Speak upThis is something Ally and I realized later in our trip than we should have. When it seemed like Ally was having a lot of fun doing something and I was over it, I would just keep quiet. And when I made a suggestion and Ally thought it was the only thing I wanted to do, she wouldn't say anything. This meant that we ended up doing things that we both would have preferred not to or to stay on activities longer than necessary. The moral is that kindly expressing what you want to do (and being ok with an affirmative or negative response) is important. Agreeing at the start of your trip that it is all right to say no to one another, but that asking is necessary is the best way to avoid this problem.
05. Have funSo obvious, I know, but remembering that you are with your friend and that you can have fun no matter what is going on is the absolute best way to travel. Whether you are on the California coast in the pouring rain and mudslides (don't worry, you'll hear more about that in another post), or you are in the coolest area of San Francisco in the most beautiful weather, you can have fun. Putting pressure on yourself and friends to have a "perfect" vacation is a mistake and will end up working against you. When things are tense, take a deep breath, smile at your friend, and have fun!
What tips do you have for traveling with others?