Susan Barnes – aka travlin’ girl – is a travel writer, editor and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since, and makes Tampa her home with her husband and miniature schnauzer, Lucy. In addition to writing extensively for print and online media, Susan is a co-host of #girlstravel chat on Twitter, Mondays at 2 p.m. ET. Feel free to follow her via travlingirl.com, and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Her next adventure in her Penelope “Daisy” is Disney World with her nephew!
Traveling with friends is a lot of fun. You have someone to share experiences with and make memories together that will last a lifetime. But how do you make it work? It takes planning, patience and teamwork….and the perfect dress with pockets! I recently took a trip with two of my girlfriends – Dawn and Robin. In fact, we travel quite often together. For a trip a few summers ago, we flew to Europe and visited Switzerland, Paris and London – all in essentially six days (taking into consideration travel time). There was a heck of a lot of planning involved – here’s how we made it work.
Put on your dress with pockets and get ready to travel with your friends!
- Pick a place. Deciding where to go is the most fun about traveling, isn’t? Domestic or international? Desert or tropical island? Adventure and active, or relaxing and low-key? Once your go-to place is decided, let the dreaming begin! My friends and I are very fortunate in that Dawn works for an international airline and we all from her Friends and Family benefits. (Yes, I’ve already told Dawn she can never, ever, leave this job.) We knew we could get to London and wanted to go elsewhere in Europe. We tend to be active on our trips, so we looked at top hiking spots throughout Europe and decided upon Switzerland. Through the course of our chats over the phone and via email, I threw out there that if we took the train from London to Switzerland, we’d have to change trains in Paris – why not stay the night? And so it was we added Paris to our itinerary, if for just 17 overnight hours. We’d finish up the trip with a day or two in London.
- Set a budget. Dealing with money’s no fun, but it’s really no fun when you and your friends have different ideas of how you’ll be traveling. Talk with each other and be honest. Are you going to rough it and go camping? Budget or moderate hotels? Or, totally luxury and indulgence? What can all of you afford? Fortunately, Dawn, Robin and I have traveled together quite a bit and know our monetary limitations. However, we did choose the most expensive country in all of Europe when we chose Switzerland (lesson learned). But we made it work. Side note: Swiss chocolate and Gruyere cheese are very affordable whilst in Switzerland. Fondue is quite pricy.
- Book ‘em, Danno! If you’re traveling by any other means than your car, it can be a bit challenging coordinating reservations, especially if you’re traveling from different places. To make our trip happen, we split up the research and work that goes into travel planning. I took on researching inter-Europe air and train fares, and Dawn and Robin looked into accommodations and a rental car in Switzerland. We all looked for the lowest rates we could get, while still taking into account staying safe when it came to where we’d be staying. When we all agreed upon flights and train schedules, not to mention hotels and b&bs, it was time to book. I went ahead and fronted the $$$ for our inter-Europe flight and train tickets; Dawn forked over the cash (or, really, credit card) to hold our hotel and car rental reservations. We’d settle up later, we figured. That’s where things can get hairy. Dawn and Robin are like sisters (and they themselves are sisters), and if they didn’t pony up the cash, well, I know where they live. J As we went along our journey, we simply split all bills three ways and paid cash. That way, no one was stuck with the bill, and we didn’t have to deal with finances when we got home. It worked out well. Of course, after our return home I learned about crowdtilt, a site in which people can add money to an account and then access that account to pay for things. Like inter-Europe flights and train tickets. Or hotel rooms. Now we know for next time!
- You Want to Do What? Probably the biggest part of traveling with anyone else is being flexible. Chances are you won’t want to do the exact same thing all of the time. It’s important to find out what everyone wants to do, and then accommodate each of those wants as much as possible. After all, you’re all on vacation, so make it enjoyable for everyone! On our trip, Dawn chose where we hiked in Switzerland. Robin wanted to see the Eifel Tower in Paris. And during a trip to the National Gallery in London, we came upon a duet playing piano and violin in one of the galleries in which Monet’s “Sunflowers” is on exhibit. Breathtaking. Of course, it may be nice to go on your own for a little while, too. Perhaps your friends are tired, or you just need to getaway. That’s ok! On our last night in London, Robin’s feet were blistered and she couldn’t take another step; off to bed she went. Dawn and I? We walked down to “our” corner pub and had a pint of Kopparberg cider (the best cider on earth, by the way).
Sure, we had little spats over the six days. Walking for two hours in Paris at 2 a.m. trying to find a cab back to our B&B had me out of my mind. But all in all, we had an amazing time, with the photos and incredible memories to keep with us. And we can’t wait to do it again!
Do you have tips you can share about traveling with friends? Let us know! In the meantime, pick out your next dress with pockets at our online store!