How to Travel With Friends and Stay Friends!

Are you itching to visit exotic places? Do you have a close buddy or two who want to tag along?

You have been friends for years. Together you raised children, shared a glass or three, laughed till your sides ached and matched each other along the way. But rumour has it that we never really know someone until we travel with them. Could this be true? Absolutely, especially when your room-mate snorts in her sleep or rises at dawn to rustle through plastic bags. Sooner or later, you might find yourself choosing between a terrific trip and a fabulous friend.

It does not have to be this way. The following seven tips will help preserve treasured friendships long after your bags are unpacked:

1. Consider the number in your group

Whether you travel in your own small group or join a larger one, make the numbers work. If your tour involves moving from place to place, two are ideal when sharing a room. Three is a possibility if you all cover the cost of a single supplement. However four people can easily split up and go sight-seeing. Chat with your travel agent and check online user reviews for tips and tales that will maximize your experience.

2. Get your cards on the table

Meet together at least once before committing yourself. Find out what type of travel each one prefers, and why. What were the highlights of previous trips? Disappointments?

Whether you are embarking on a five-star cruise or schlepping your bags on an adventure tour, establishing basic ground rules beforehand will help diminish misunderstandings along the way. Who will room together? How important is shopping? Museums? Exploring off the beaten path? Since even your best efforts, traveling with friends will be a work in progress and the rules subject to change.

3. Follow the money

Each person paid good money and desires top value for their dollar. Keep track of shared expenses. If you borrow from a pal, repay your debt at the first opportunity. Do not be afraid to remind them if they owe you; ask them to do the same. Finances are a touchy topic and play a huge role in making or breaking your experience.

4. Speak with the person responsible

One friend feels slighted; another, misunderstood. There are times when everyone is aware of a situation except the one who can fix it. Nothing undermines a great time quite like feeling alienated. Make a point of clearing the air. Your friends are worth it.

5. Fight fair

If you feel you must confront a buddy, resist the urge to gang up. Speak with her at the earliest opportunity; the longer it simmers, the tougher it will be to sort things out. Weigh your words carefully before opening your mouth; words can hurt. Keep it current and do not dredge up old stuff. Never say, "You always …", even if it's true. Remember, once something is said, it's hard to get it back.

6. Stay open to new ideas

If you've never tried something before, maybe it's time you did. This could be your chance to walk on the wild side. Ask yourself: when I am 85 and sitting in my rocking chair, do I want to regret the things I did not do?

Climb that mountain; go skinny-dipping in the moonlight; dance like there's no tomorrow; stay up all night and watch the sun rise. Take a chance. You just might surprise yourself!

7. Remember that no one is perfect

Not even you. Be assured there are things about you that bother others. If you live alone, you might be shocked to hear that you snore. Or maybe others think you are a poor tipper when you consider yourself quite generous. If your friendship is genuine, it will survive even the worst travel experience. If not, sometimes it never was.

Despite the naysayers, it is entirely possible to travel with friends ~ and remain friends. In fact, some of us do it over and over again. For the time of your life with chums you adore, tackle your trip like a successful marriage: choose your battles, treat each other with respect, take responsibility for your own experience ~ and never bring up the other guy's mother!

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