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Traveling with Friends Without Becoming Enemies

It’s great to travel with friends—that is unless your shared vacation turns you into enemies. That can happen to even the most complementary of couples. We know. We tarnished a good friendship by assuming our camaraderie would carry us through the trip. It didn’t. To prevent problems, we should have talked frankly ahead of time.

To begin with, don’t assume that just because you enjoy movie nights together and dinners out that you and the other couple can travel together even if you both want to explore Boston and then head to the beaches of Cape Cod. Whether you plan on visiting a city or sharing a beach house, you need to be able to decide on a budget and match your expectations about what you will visit and where you will stay and eat.

Start by talking about what you want. Does your dream city trip come with rooms at a luxury hotel in the heart of the museum district and dinners at some of the town’s best restaurants? That’s fine as long as your friends agree. They may be thinking of stretching their budget by staying at a lower-cost hotel in the suburbs, using public transportation to get downtown and, more often than not, eating at reliable chain restaurants with moderately priced menus.

Money—how it’s spent and who decides—can be the biggest friendship buster. However awkward, you must discuss the dollars and sense of your trip well in advance. Along with settling on a budget for hotels and meals, consider how other fees will be divided.

For example, if you drive to the destination and share one car, a good way to minimize costs, consider the obvious and the what-ifs. You decided to share gas and tolls, but what about the wear-and –tear on the vehicle if the trip involves many hundreds of miles? Who pays to repair the flat tire or replace the battery if it goes dead? There aren’t really any “right” answers. The key is to be honest and up front about your expectations so that neither couple is surprised, then disappointed and angered enough to derail the friendship.

Consider your rhythms of the road. Do you prefer to start sightseeing after an early breakfast, but your friends want to relax, have lunch and then take in attractions? Do you want to return to the hotel early, but they want to sample the local clubs? If so, can you feel comfortable with enjoying some separate experiences? You start early, meet your friends for lunch and take in a museum you both want to see together. After dinner, you return to the hotel to relax and they go dancing. Having some time away from the other couple creates a built-in safety valve, one that works well to keep the friendship alive.

Another axiom to travel by: make sure that you can tolerate the other couples habits for eight plus hours a day. Think all of these things through, and you have a good chance that the trip with your buddies will solidify your friendship, not bury it.

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