September 9 2009 by Amy Graff
Whether you're spending a week on the beach in Hawaii or road-tripping across the United States, you'll certainly have more fun traveling with friends than going solo. But group travel can be stressful because the smallest misunderstandings can break up friendships. Here are some tips to ensure everyone returns home friends.
Assign responsibilities. If you're a big group, consider designating a trip leader (ideally the most organized person among your friends) who can take on such tasks as conducting a poll for trip dates, emailing out the final itinerary, and coordinating what people need to bring. This person can also dole out responsibilities to others. You might put one person on researching restaurants and another on planning optional group activities, for example. A great resource for coordinating the group is the website Triporama.com, which allows groups to create to-do lists, chat on private message boards, and build day-by-day itineraries.
Discuss details before you go. How will you decide on a hotel? How will you pick restaurants and split bills? If you're traveling with kids, will you hire a babysitter so the parents get adult time? The more questions you can answer before you leave the better. Money is typically the point of contention so the budget is the most important topic to discuss. If you can't afford to eat at fancy restaurants and your friends can, then you should speak up.
Spend time together - and apart. As much as you love being with your friends, you'll want some time alone to sit by the pool, go for a hike, or check out an art museum. Consider setting up a daily routine that offers everyone the opportunity for time together and apart. The gang can gather for breakfast and dinner, and the middle of the day can be dedicated to free time and optional outings for small groups.
Address problems immediately. When you become annoyed by your friend who buys loads of souvenirs and then asks you to carry them in your suitcase because hers is already overstuffed, say something! Don't let your anger build up and explode into something that strains the friendship. If you come up with a friendly, even funny way, to approach your friend about the situation, she won't be offended by your complaint and you'll feel much better for expressing your frustration.