I’ve been back a couple weeks now from a really fantastic trip with some of my best girlfriends, and with jet-lag blessedly dissipated, I’ve begun to dive into my photos and notes. So many pictures, and a lot of information. And memories. Really fun and good memories. (Like this one!)
For obvious reasons, small group travel is very different than solo and paired travel. Here are some key points to remember and how to best enjoy the spectacular places you will see with your friends:
This is the most important part of group travel, specifically travelling with your friends. Why? Because it’s not just about you. It’s about what’s best for the group and making sure everyone gets the most out of the experience. Cost/budget, what to do, where to go, where to eat, etc. Because we were going to be in several places for short periods of time, we each stated our wishlists and a few musts for each city. This allowed for some planning and tends to be easier when one or a more of you have already been to a place. I’ve been to Paris a few times, but two of my friends had not. It was incredibly fun to see it through fresh eyes.
Equally as important as compromise. These are your friends, but you don’t live with them – or perhaps you do. But three weeks, or even a few days, all day, every day, has its moments. Everyone has quirks or a bad day; no one is perfect. You love them, and there’s no point in creating conflict, so keep that patience cap on. Sometimes you just need to let things go. If there’s a spat, talk about it; hug it out. Buy the next round. Be supportive. They are your tribe.
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Communication is key
When we started planning our trip, we agreed on a) to pipe up if one of us wasn’t down with something; and b) we didn’t have to be together all the time. If someone, or a pair (the buddy system is important!), wanted to go do something else, we set a meeting place and time and checked in periodically through our WhatsApp group.
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This bundles up all of the above, but specifically applies to bathroom time; particularly with a group of girls! Check in before you take a shower, be quick, and remember that mostly anything outside of bathroom appliance related activities can be taken care of in front of a non-bathroom mirror. Also try also keep your stuff in your own space.
Create a WhatsApp group
Figure out how to communicate with each other about trip related matters or if you get separated. We sent links, photos, etc to each other over WhatsApp, and it was very helpful.
Sort out who is paying for what
This is really important so that you know who owes who what. For this trip, each of us was in charge of booking a city and we would communicate price, etc before booking. Everything was recorded on the Google Drive spreadsheet I created, and we would make sure to transfer the money ASAP. When we had a rental car, we each put money in the kitty for gas, and as per the norm, we took turns with the drink rounds.
Book appropriate accommodations
An obvious #GetThrifty perk to travelling with more than one person is some shared costs, particularly for accommodations. Because, let’s face it, that is usually the biggest money suck when travelling. You will rarely get to have your own bed, never mind your own room, but you will save some money — which means more good food and wine! I’m slightly more partial to apartments or aparthotels (fridge and laundry!) than traditional hotels, but costs and location always determine what makes the most sense. Example: Some hotels have complimentary or cheap breakfast, but apartments have fridges and small appliances for minor groceries and making breakfast at “home”.
Here are my recommended accommodations that are great for 3-4 people in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Paris (two options), and Barcelona. All have free wi-fi and are great value for money. Warning that some don’t have elevators, but this is a blessing when eating all that good food!
#GetThrifty: If it’s your first time using Airbnb or Booking.com, here are two links for credits/discounts for first stays. Every penny counts!
Friends are the siblings God never gave us.~ Mencius