You decide to go on an epic trip with your best friends. You plan months in advance. You shop for the trip together. What could possibly go wrong?
When I decided to take a trip to Goa with a bunch of my friends, we planned everything in detail: the places we would see, the must-visit restaurants, late night clubs to go to, and the clothes we would wear.
What we did not bother to discuss - and the last thing anyone was worried about - was our travelling compatibility. The result? We are not on speaking terms anymore.
Here are some words of wisdom from me and other travelers you should read before you embark on your next adventure:
#Lesson 1 - Don't know, don't go
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while traveling is to go with people you have met only occasionally during get-togethers and night-outs. With close friends, you may still have an inkling of what you are getting yourself into. But traveling with friends of friends may throw up some unpleasant surprises.
"I once traveled with this girl, my colleague actually, who would spend hours in front of the mirror. We were late for everything. After two days I couldn't take it anymore. I just had to tell her. She didn't take it well and accused me of being insensitive," says Nisha Tandon, a marketing professional.
#Lesson 2 - Identify your traveling personality
While for some people vacation is a time to unwind, relax and not be on their toes, for others traveling is all about exploring. Now, unless you and your travel companion are okay with following separate itineraries, it is best to find out beforehand what is the other person's idea of traveling.
#Lesson 3 - Find the balance
Your friend wants to visit historical sites, one wants to go to the mall and you want to hit the beach. Find a middle ground. Split your time in such a way that you get to do both. Your friends will appreciate it and are more likely to return the gesture.
"When my best friend Akshay, his college friends, and I, went to Macau, we had a chat days before to figure out how to best use the five days we had," says Sushant Jaitley, a Bangalore-based lawyer.
"I didn't want to waste money on casinos. I had read that theatre and concerts in Macau were one of the best in the world. So we divided into two groups. We went to the House of the Dancing Water to see performances, the others went to a casino," Jaitley said.
#Lesson 4 - Don't shy away from discussing money
Money can sometimes be a taboo subject between friends, especially when you are used to paying for each other. But on a trip there are many lunches, dinners and cabs to be paid for. Who will pick the tab? Will you jot down who paid where and divide everything at the end of your vacation? Or will all of you take turns to pay? These things should be clear.
Photo credit: 2dgroup.co
"The easiest way to manage money while traveling is to let one person pay each day and then divide the total expense by the number of people in your group every night. This makes it easier to calculate as multiple accounts don't have to be settled," says Shakoor Ahmad, who works as a journalist in Delhi.
You can also keep a sort of travel fund, where everyone puts in some money at the start of the trip for expenses such as cabs and dining out. If any amount is left at the end of the holiday, it can be divided equally among everyone.
#Lesson 5 - Take it easy
All friendships have skeletons in their closet. No need to go near it, else all of them will come tumbling down. My two friends who have been together for more than 6 years did not realize this. Two days through our Goa holiday, sitting at a club at 1 pm in the night, all hell broke loose. It started with a trivial " You are always on your phone", assumed the seriousness of "You asked out my crush in college" ," You are self-centered," and ended with an angry "We are done." One of them stormed out of the club, took a separate cab and by the time we got back she had checked into a separate room at the hotel.
Tempers can run high after days of being cramped in a hotel room with the same people. The trick is to not let your anger get the better of you. Remember, you are on vacation. Remain in a chilled-out mode.
# Lesson 6 - Be considerate
Don't occupy the bathroom for long hours, don't throw your stuff all around the hotel room, don't be loud if someone is taking a nap. Being considerate goes a long way into keeping friendships intact.
Photo credit: Tour Radar
Now that you are aware of dos and don'ts of group travel let's hope your friendships can stand the test of travelling!