Disclaimer: Solo travel is amazing (and one that this guest blogger needs to do more of) but this is specifically about travel companions.

You’ve saved the cash, you’ve chosen the destination and you’ve talked to your boss…all that’s left now is to decide whom to invite on your adventure. Whether it’s just one person or a group, the importance of this decision is one I don’t recommend taking lightly, especially if your travel will take you outside your comfort zone.

My most recent travel originally started as a trip of just Carrie and me (she later confided in me that she was nervous about it this) and ended as a partial trip of four. For the first 10 days of our trip my boyfriend Bryan (who had only hung out with Carrie a few times) and his friend Austin (whom she had never met) joined us. We are all very different people and none of us had traveled together for more than a long weekend. What could have been a disaster ended up being awesome. Here are some reasons why I think it worked.

We all jumped right in.

Our first night started at 3am when we finally met at our hotel. We just hung out and talked for a little bit about how excited we were! Having people who can just JUMP into the adventure is huge. If someone is a little quiet, make sure they have an opportunity to share what they are excited about, even if it is as cheesy as making them go around in a circle and share.

Make time for group time.

I proudly take ownership of being the one that would make everyone sit together to journal, play games, and have a drink (or two or three 🙂 ). While I was sometimes met with eye-rolls, it was a great time to have everyone talk about the highlights of their day, what they wanted to do the following day, and plan together so everyone was a part of it. Doing this also gives people the chance that when they do things separately during the day they don’t miss out on some group time.

Carrie Lyman, Traveling with Friends
on the Mekong River, Laos, January 2014

Set your budget early on but allow room to be flexible.

This one is a little tricky, but I think important. A few weeks into our trek, I just needed a nice hotel with a pool. I told Carrie that if she were willing, I would splurge for the night. This was the moment she broke and told me she was worried I’d make us stay in cheap places the whole time!! We both knew we couldn’t go crazy and it would mean a cheaper meal that night or a cheaper hotel in the next city but the fact we could agree on when to splurge and when to save was awesome.

Lastly, it sounds easy, compromise.

I am a history buff. I will make my future kids visit every historical site in Boston and Carrie will be the girl they will beg to see when they can’t take it anymore. Carrie loves beautiful things, gardens, art, buildings, et cetera. I can appreciate their beauty, but I’m good after a quick instagram-worthy pic. We made a deal that we would both talk about what we wanted out of our experiences in each city and made sure that it happened, even if it was something that wasn’t necessarily on the other person’s priority list. Not only does this make for more happier companions, it also opens your eyes to new experiences.

How about you? Who is your favorite friend to take on an adventure? Any other tips for traveling with friends?

-by Emily Stanford

Emily lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts and she is an avid traveler. We met nearly 10 years ago as freshman college roommates. She recently took a month long trip with me to South East Asia and we made it out alive.