Travel is awesome. Traveling with friends is even more awesome – especially when that travel is to Panama City Beach for Spring Break 2017! Friends can make your adventure epic for sure, but at times traveling in a group can be challenging. Here’s some great tips to ensure you’re whole crew has a great trip!
1) What does everyone want?
This is by FAR the most important thing, and important to discuss before any further planning. Just because you all want to go to Panama City Beach doesn’t mean you all want the same thing out of it. Sure you might say “oh the beaches” and “ooo, clubs and pool parties” but if you’re thinking 90% beaches and 10% clubs, and they’re thinking the opposite, there’s going to be conflict. Be sure to discuss ahead of time to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2) How does everyone travel?
Flying? Driving? Together? Separate? Make sure you discuss your travel plans completely! From rest stops and truck space for luggage to cab fare from the airport to hotel and all around town. There’s no right or wrong way, to each their own… but to avoid conflict later, like #1, best to figure this out ahead of time.
3) Not every activity needs to be a group activity.
Just because you’re traveling together, doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. In fact, the best groups I’ve traveled with often did do things separately! So if 2 or 3 out of your group want to go swim with a dolphin at Gulf World or hit Club La Vela’s pool for the day, and the rest want to spend the day chillin’ at the hotel pool or beach it is ok to go separate ways at times… Not every day of course, but every few days. It makes for lively conversation at dinner and keeps everyone happy!
4) If you can be flexible, do.
As with any relationship, there are going to have to be compromises. The problem when traveling with friends is that the mechanism for compromise isn’t as ingrained as it is with a spouse (presumably). Also, somebody is going to be a little more of a finicky eater or a little more worried about money… So if you can compromise, do. Stand ground when you need to, but being more like water and going with the flow will make everything go smoother.
5) Don’t be TOO laid back.
This is the counterpoint to #4. Sometimes friends would get frustrated because NO ONE will make a decision. So make it known that if you’re needed to make a decision, you’re happy to do so.
6) Everyone will need some personal time.
Everyone needs some “me” time, especially introverts traveling in a group. It’s not being anti-social, it’s just some quiet time (or music-infused time) to recharge the social batteries. For example, one of your friends may need to wind down at the end of the day watching shows on her laptop, while another reads a book, calls home to check in with the parents, etc. Factoring that in, and keeping #3 in mind, will make things a lot easier.
7) Don’t focus on pennies.
Money is the cause of more arguments among friends than probably anything else. If you let yourself fixate on a few dollars here and there, it’s going to ruin your trip, and if it blows up into something, you’ll risk everyone’s trip. Unless someone is obviously and knowingly skimming or cheating… well wait, why are you traveling with that person to begin with? Typically, you already know who’s going to be “that guy” so if you’re still willing to travel with that person just let it slide…That said…
8) Figure out how to split meals before you go.
It’s probably best to establish what the money plan is ahead of time. Chances are someone makes less than everyone else and is not looking forward to splitting a $400 meal 6 ways when all they had was a salad and one beer… Discussing it ahead of time lets everyone agree on the best practices for the meals – especially that one nice one that you treat yourself to. Planning ahead also gives an embarrassed party to talk about it separately from the group. Regardless, approach this topic with caution… this can be one of those more sensitive subjects.
9) Don’t make ANY decisions when hungry or stressed
This is probably the most important rule. It always amazes me how few people realize that everyone gets SUPER cranky when they’re hungry. You know you read that as “hangry” in your head! It’s common knowledge that the combination of hungry and stressed can easily lead to arguments. With the stress of travel in the mix (getting to an airport, missing a train etc.) and confined areas it’s not the time for serious conversation. Remember #4? Again here. Let the cranky be cranky. Get them food. THEN figure out what the issue is.
10) As in all things, communication is key.
A group dynamic is a fickle, fragile thing. Don’t let things fester or build up. A calm but awkward discussion at the beginning of a situation is ALWAYS better than a fiery argument after one has dwelled for a while. Trust me us that one!