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Travel Advice for Friends Traveling Together

Foreign travel is wonderful. But it can also be quite intense. All your senses are heightened. You're in unfamiliar circumstances. And experiences are more vivid and stimulating.

On top of that, jet lag can disrupt your sleep habits. And you may be eating unfamiliar foods, drinking more than usual, and exercising more or less than you do at home.

Worst of all, your expectations are a lot higher than usual. You may not care much about what you do on a day off at home. But you probably have a pretty big to-do list for your precious time in Paris.

All this combined can make you less easygoing than you usually are. And if you're traveling with a friend, they're under the same pressures. Over the years, we've heard hundreds of stories about friendships broken up by traveling together. And we've even experienced it ourselves.

Several years ago, we went to Eastern Europe with a friend, and by the end of the trip, we were barely speaking. It wasn't just one thing, but the previously undisclosed 140-decibel snoring certainly didn't help. After five nights of virtually no sleep, I had to get my own room - something I definitely hadn't budgeted for.

Since then, we've traveled with friends very judiciously. And we've been careful to ensure that we each had some personal space for those times when we preferred to be alone. A hotel room with a separate sitting area is still less than two rooms, and often a good investment. When planning a trip, we also talk in advance about what we want to do and see.

The biggest mistake friends who travel together make is feeling like they need to be joined at the hip the whole trip. Most friends aren't 100% compatible. One naturally moves a little slower, prefers museums to flea markets, or would rather grab a sandwich than have a sit-down lunch.

Given that, you shouldn't try to travel with anyone who is your polar opposite. If you're up at the crack of dawn and your friend likes to stay out until the wee hours and then sleep until noon, that's probably not going to work.

To minimize these conflicts, why not go your own way and then meet up for meals. That way, you can see what you'd like, go at your own pace, and then you'll have plenty to talk about at dinner that evening. You can have show and tell with your digital pictures.

Dividing up expenses can also be problematic. Traveling with someone who makes far more or far less than you is asking for trouble, so choose a companion who has roughly the same budget.

What's worked best for us is keeping track of expenses and who paid for what throughout the trip. Rather than dividing every check -- which is a hassle for service people too -- we just take turns paying. And at the end of the trip, we total up the cost, figure out how much each person paid, and the one who paid less pays the other the difference.

It's actually amazing how close it works out when you just alternate. Agree on this method in advance, and you shouldn't have any problems.

Finally, choose someone who is a good communicator. That way, if any issues do come up, you'll be able to talk them over and work things out.

If you follow this travel advice, you should be able to enjoy the best of both worlds - the benefits of companionship and the pleasure of independence.



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