World Endeavors staff has helped many a friend pair or group find a meaningful experience abroad. It’s only natural to want to share a new and exciting experience with a buddy, right? As socially-wired humans, our confidence is often bolstered by a companion who can help us through the rigors of learning, adapting, accommodating, and problem-solving in a new culture. While we often recommend a solo trip for many solid reasons (see past blogs), sometimes traveling with a friend makes sense. Here are some tips on how to do it gracefully, without hurting your relationship.
- Be clear about your objectives – Come together and share the reasons why you want to have a meaningful experience abroad. Make sure both (or multiple) parties share equally in the discussion. Don’t hold back. Now is the time to discover if you share similar motivations and values. And DO make sure that both people are thrilled about the destination and the type of learning experience you have selected.
- Talk about money – You may have a completely different financial situation than your friend. Don’t hide this difference. If one person can afford the trip and the other is going to struggle to make ends meet during the experience, it’s good to know ahead of time. You can adjust your program type or duration to better fund the experience. And our staff might have ideas about how financial aid or scholarships could help, so definitely include us in the process!
- Communicate your expectations about free time – Are you going to eat every meal possible together? Travel together on weekends? Do you need alone time or moments to meet up with new friends? Don’t put stress on each other during the program. Talk about the possible scenarios that might happen and how the friendship can thrive even with some new routines. You will have hours of travel time on the plane to casually chat about the future – so use some of it to talk about the day to day stuff you might encounter. Planning a check-in ritual like breakfast in the morning, or setting aside one or two weekends to travel together will give your friendship the maintenance it needs without leaving you feeling like you’re attached at the hip.
- Minimize complaining – People usually have a negativity bias – that means, we tend to see the problems before we see the successes in life. Getting together to chat about all of the things that aren’t what you expected, or the disappointments of the day, will sour your experience and your friendship! Try to be balanced with your observations. Make sure you notice the good and the bad (ideally, more good!). Be grateful, hopeful, patient and flexible as often as possible.
- Make other friends – The more the merrier. Make new friends but keep the old. Widen the circle. Adding friendships to existing ones is a generous act and will help your own friendship stay fresh. What if you don’t hit it off with the new, third wheel? Then find a fourth. Give your old friend a chance to meet someone new. Meet people on your own. Embrace the best part of travel – getting to meet new, interesting people with stories you’ve never heard before!
- Laugh a lot – Stay lighthearted. See a movie together. Sing songs. Tell jokes. Keeping a sense of humor abroad is good medicine for the stresses of culture shock and humor strengthens friendships. Take time to laugh.
- Don’t despair when you disagree – Even the best relationships see conflict, so don’t expect perfection. Relationships can weather storms as long as friends take time to listen and repair hurts after disagreements. Traveling abroad can challenge people and bring out their best and worst traits. Forgive each other often and forgive yourself, too.
Still thinking about traveling with a friend? Reach out and get us involved in the process. We can help set you up with a great program for you and a friend.