1. Love Thy Companion
Ok you don’t literally have to “love” you companion but you should definitely have the same mindset. If you are a spontaneous spur of the moment traveler it would make sense to travel with other spontaneous travelers. If you need structure and stability find others who need a “plan” as well. I myself can play on both fields I, like to have a general idea of where I will be going but once I get there it’s a toss-up what will take place for the day! However most of my travel companions lately are way too far on either end of the spectrum for me. Some I really need to say hey we have stuff to do get ready! While others I find myself being nagged way too much because I’m too “adventurous” for their taste. So choose your companions wisely, you do not want to be butting heads with your friends on your travels, they are supposed to be fun!
2. Communication, Communication, Communication
This is a MUST for any venture no matter how long or far your travels will be. Regardless if you are a spontaneous traveler or a structured one, you and your travel companions need to know what is going on! If you are afraid to speak up maybe you shouldn’t be traveling with them. You don’t want to spend 30 minutes driving to the best seafood spot in town just to find out your companion has a seafood allergy. Communicate, plan to some extent at least, and have a blast.
3. Respect Each Other’s Belongings
They may bring some items you are not interested in or perhaps just because it’s not yours you do not pay much attention to it. Traveling is supposed to be fun, you do not want to spend time arguing with your friends about how you lost their makeup bag or broke their camera. Take the extra two minutes to be considerate for your companions, after all if they are traveling with you I would assume you have some level of a relationship built up. Don’t spoil it over something silly.
4. Discuss Interests and Dislikes
Going along with the communication topic, you and your companion(s) should discuss ahead of your trip what is strictly off the table and what you would love to do. Skydiving for instance, for some it’s an absolute NO, but for others they wouldn’t exactly go do it on their own but they are not exactly opposed to going either. Have some time to figure out what is going to be accomplished on the trip. You may be spontaneous but you still need to consider your companions.
5. Accept That Things Will Go Wrong
No matter how much you plan realize eventually something will go wrong, especially on long trips. Make sure you and your companions thoroughly understand this. Accept you will probably end up arguing at some point. As fun as traveling is it can be stressful at times when things do not go as planned. Travel with people you know a simple argument will not ruin the experience with. Nothing is worse than negativity when you are trying to create a positive experience!
6. Do Your Own Thing Every Now and Then
Especially on longer trips like my cross country road trip for example, it can be nice to do some things on your own. I spent the last half of it driving back to the east coast solo. Completely different experience! Maybe you want to hike a trail that your companions are anxious about. Maybe they want to visit the mall while you would rather adventure. Set a meeting point/time and explore on your own. Just because you traveled together does not mean you must be attached at the hip every second of the trip. It can be nice to have some alone time to walk the beach or just adventure through town on your own.
7. Have Each Other’s Back
This may seem obvious but trust me after traveling 7,000 miles with two other people in a packed out Focus I can assure you it is a golden rule for travel. I am a very minimal packer when I Travel. I pack more photography equipment than I do clothing honestly and never bring more than 2 bags. My companions on the other hand had more stuff than I would like to think about. Things get misplaced, expensive things get crushed, wallets and cell phones get put down and forgotten. Look out for each other, it would be terrible if you realize on the last day your passport is missing or you forgot your ID at a bar. Also on the road you are bound to run into some crazies, if you are strong willed and you know your companion is soft spoken and not big on confrontation, look out for them! Nobody is saying get into a brawl but just have their back, keep them safe and avoid bad situations.
It does not matter how much money you plan on starting off with, know ahead of time how much you plan on spending before ever leaving the house! Yeah that shot glass may be funny, yeah your favorite band may be playing in town but is it worth not eating the last two days of your trip? Is it worth not having the gas money to get home? DO NOT rely on your credit cards with a “oh I’ll just pay it off when we get back” mentality. Things can go wrong, unforeseen expenses can pop up and suddenly that concert was not such a smart investment. No matter the size of the budget, have one in place! Also always overestimate your expenses. It is much better to have extra cash at the end rather than searching for pennies on the last day.
9. Realize You May See a New Side of Your Companion
Maybe you guys have been friends for years and you know each other’s favorite food, color, tv shows, social skills, etc. Maybe you think you know everything there is to know about your companion(s). The longer your trip the more you will get to know the “real” side of them. Hopefully if you have been close for a long time you won’t see too many surprises, but accept that there may have been things you never knew that could come to surface after a few days on the road. Maybe they are normally the quiet one, but after a few drinks they become the life of the party. Maybe they always seemed neat and organized but after a few days on the road they have laundry everywhere and souvenirs in bags all over your car. Brace yourselves, you will get real acquainted on long term trips, especially road trips.
10. Have Fun With Each Other!
Trust me after a 5 week road trip doing a circle around the US I know better than most how much of a headache some days will be. But remember, you are still traveling! You are not sitting on the couch at home watching TV or sitting in an office staring at a screen, you are on the road with your friends! Have a good time and enjoy yourself! Don’t let one little bad experience here and there ruin your trip. Explore, adventure, and make memories!