By Katie Ford
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” -Mark Twain
I found this really interesting quote today by Mark Twain, which has inspired me to write another article about a travel topic that I feel is often overlooked.
Many people don’t consider who they’re traveling with as a potential obstacle when they’re choosing their travel buddies during a study abroad experience. I understand that you may not have much choice in who you travel with while you’re studying abroad, as the people who will want to go with you to certain places may be limited. With that being said, it’s important to consider compatible personalities, group size, and travel interests before planning a trip together.
- Personalities and Interests Traveling with someone who has a fairly compatible personality is absolutely essential. You’ll want to find someone who likes to eat similar things to yourself, likes to eat at similar times to yourself, will be interested in the types of activities you’re interested in, etc. For example, if you’re interested in a ton of adventure activities while you’re away (bungie-jumping, anyone?), it might be best if you head out with someone who isn’t planning on sleeping on the beach the entire time. Likewise, if you’re the type of person who wants to spend their entire trip on a tour bus (ignore my groans…), make sure you find someone who will be okay spending both time and money on that!
- Group Size Traveling with a big group of all of your friends has the potential to be a super amazing adventure that you’ll all remember fondly for the rest of your lives. It also has the potential to make you never speak to each other again, or somewhere in between. Traveling in a big group presents unique challenges that many people don’t really consider. I have personal experience with this one: When I studied abroad in 2011, me and my closest 6 friends all went on a 10-day adventure in Italy. Our plan was to fly in and out of Rome, and to hit up Naples and Florence as well. We had some initial difficulties planning where exactly we’d go in Italy, and for how long, but we eventually settled on our itinerary. We flew into Rome and headed straight for Naples, where we were planning to spend only a couple of days. We were staying at such a great hostel (Giovanni’s Home on Hostelworld…check it out!) that we all decided it would be great to spend an extra night. Giovanni only had enough beds for 6 of us though, so Alex and Joanna ended up spending the last night in one twin-sized bed (admittedly, not the biggest problem, but certainly something to think about). We then headed to Florence for our next stop, where we had one big apartment, and everything worked out great. For the most part, we were able to do what we wanted to do, and split up only one or two times if our interests differed. By the time we got to Rome, everything was going swimmingly! By the time we left Rome, we’d each spent the last day by ourselves because being in such a big group having to make every single decision work for 7 people was truly exhausting. We were all still friends (thankfully) by the time we got back to France, and I think it’s safe to say that we all look back on that trip as one of the best we took that semester, but one of the big things that springs to mind is how incredibly LUCKY we were that none of us ended up hating anyone else by the time we were done. Aside from that last day of alone time, we were able to make decisions together as a group (for the most part), but you will not always be able to do that. This is also where the personalities/interests point comes into play, but be sure that the entire group will be good with the travel choices you’re making before you commit!
Traveling with your friends is a really amazing experience, that definitely has the ability to bond you together like you would never have had the opportunity before, but be sure that you choose your travel partners wisely!