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Travel Hacks: Tips for travelling with your friends or partner

26th July 2019

Whether you choose to travel with a friend or a partner, travelling with others will often allow you to create some pretty epic memories. With that in mind, it can also be pretty testing on the relationship. Who would've thought that being in a foreign country with someone for a prolonged period of time, amidst some euphoric highs and some pretty gnarly lows could be testing on a relationship?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Over the past two years I’ve travelled with a group of friends, done a trip with my best friend, travelled solo and, most recently, embarked on three months of backpacking with my boyfriend. Each trip was uniquely different as a result of the company. Likewise, each trip garnered its own peaks and troughs in my relationships. Thankfully, I made it out the other end of all the trips with my relationships still intact, if not stronger. That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging at times, especially when it came to money. 

It's all love hearts until someone won't split the bill evenly.

After these experiences, I would definitely encourage people to jump headfirst into a trip with their friends or significant other BUT make sure you are wearing a helmet first. By helmet, I mean take into account the following tips. That way you’ll (hopefully) come out the other end with some brilliant memories, a few extra kilograms (sharing the holiday weight makes it less daunting, trust me) and a stronger relationship. 

Tip 1: Understand how they travel

Are you keen to hit up hostels, only to discover your mate will not lay their head anywhere less than four stars? Perhaps they like to fly everywhere and you have a preference for boats/trains/buses/anything but flights?

Determining what kind of trip everyone has envisioned before you begin booking things will prevent angst further down the track. A lot of expectations will be rooted in everyone’s predetermined budgets, so having an understanding of what everyone is hoping to spend will shape the type of holiday you end up embarking on. This means, gasp, being honest about money. Hard, I know, but if you struggle to open up to these people then you probably shouldn't be travelling with them.

Tip 2: Set, define, and stick to a budget

This should be one of the first things you do, as it will shape your trip. In my experience, the budget is most influenced by the person with the least amount of money to spend. Use their budget as a baseline and ensure you can all effectively cover accommodation, transport and daily expenses with that. From there, those that have more cash to splash can do so as they please. Money can be a very touchy subject, so having a clear understanding of how much you are each willing to spend is important.

If you’re struggling to even begin with a holiday budget, why not start with our holiday budget planner. It will help you determine your day-to-day costs on the ground. From there you will just need to add in accommodation and any flights.

Tip 3: Figure out a payment method that prevents awkward moments

There’s nothing worse than finishing a meal with friends and then awkwardly looking around when it comes to payment time, wondering if it’s going to be an ‘even split’ or if you will instead go through, piece by piece, adding up how much everyone owes. It is painful.

When travelling, you will be eating out more often than not. With this in mind, if you don’t have something worked out you could potentially find yourself in quite a few of these awkward situations. In my experience, there are three ways you can make post-meal payment smoother.

Option 1: Always have cash on hand, preferably smaller notes. That way you can all just throw in your share and be done with it. This is particularly useful if you don’t want to split evenly and instead want to break up the bill incrementally, or if you are in a country that doesn’t accept paments via card.

Option 2: Use Splitwise, or a similar app that keeps track of what everyone owes. In other words, one person pays and then divvies up the cost amongst the other travellers in the app. At the end of the trip, there is an itemised list of who owes whom what. Simples.

Option 3: Put money on a travel card, like the Travel Money Oz Currency Pass, and use it as the communal payment. Once you have decided upon a budget, everyone chooses to put a certain amount on the one card (e.g. $1000). From here, you can pay for meals, supermarket shops, accommodation and so on as you please, knowing that it is drawing from the communal pool of money. Of course this method isn’t for everyone, however, I found it to be the easiest and most stress-free. If someone wishes to make a separate purchase, they either use their own money or pay with the Currency Pass and transfer the cost of the purchase to make up the difference.

Long story short; decide on a payment option before you leave for the trip and then stick to it. That way you avoid confusion and any potential rifts that may come as a result of money.

Three friends, three gyros, one Currency Pass, no worries. 

Tip 4: Be considerate of what others want to do

The perfect example of this is my latest holiday with my boyfriend. He LOVES nature. If there is water, he’ll swim in it (literally, he swam in an Estonian bog), if there are mountains he will climb them, if you see trees, chances are he’ll be hugging them. I, on the other hand, love food. Before we arrive at a new destination I have already researched the best places to eat and drink, and would happily spend my days strolling the streets of a new city in search of the perfect gelato. You can see how this could have been a problem for us – there is no gelato in the forest.

We quickly realised this difference and worked out a way to make us both happy. What do they say is the secret to a good relationship? Compromise. This meant doing a 20 kilometre hike through said Estonian bogs, with the promise of a nice dinner and plenty of gelato the next day. We both discussed what we wanted to do in each location and made a plan so that we were both happy. Turns out all that hiking burned off plenty of calories so I could have MORE gelato. Brilliant.

This is an Estonian Bog for those playing at home. 

Tip 5: Give each other space and be honest about needing space

Needing space is not a bad thing, especially when you are in each other’s pockets 24/7. This ties in with tip number 4 as well. As much as you love the people you are travelling with, there will be times where you need a little space, whether it is for an hour, three hours or a whole day.

Take it as a chance to explore a new city on your own, read a book, do a pub crawl, hug a tree, or simply lie in bed and look at the roof whilst contemplating the universe. You do you. A little bit of me-time is important so you can unpack your brain and recharge, ready to let the good times roll with your friends. Respect each other’s need for space and don’t take it personally.

Tip 6: Don’t make decisions when you are tired, hungry, or worse, hangry. 

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Nothing good is going to come from yelling at each other at 3 am in a Greek airport after a 15-hour plane journey where all you’ve eaten is four boiled lollies (trust me, I speak from experience). Sometimes you can’t avoid a situation where you’re drained but need to make a decision; in these instances, you just need to recognise that ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’ and move on. After a sleep and a solid meal you’ll be back to BFFs in no time.

Ward off hanger fuelled arguements with a fresh gelato. P.S. this is what I ate after the bog walk. Delicious, right?

Tip 7: Be prepared to see the good, the bad and the ugly. 

This one is very important and, whilst can be daunting in the moment, will often lead to some great stories for when you’re back home. Example? My boyfriend and I travelled for three weeks in the Philippines, and we were both struck with food or water poisoning more times than I can count. I’ll let you imagine what came as a result of said poisoning, but I can assure you it was not pretty or something you wanted your significant other to witness.

Once we left the Philippines, we told our family of the situations that we faced, laughing at the horror. Sure it was rough, but spending 24/7 with someone means seeing more than you bargained for. Just take it in your stride, shake it off and don’t let it hinder the rest of your holiday.

Tip 8: Be willing to meet new people

Variety is the spice of life. Sure, you have committed to travelling with this person/people; but that doesn’t mean you can’t meet new weird and wonderful folks throughout your trip. I found this especially important when travelling with my boyfriend. After being with him and only him 24/7, it was refreshing to chat with new people. Not only will other travellers have recommendations you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, but also you can end up forging new friendships.

Turns out there is more to New Zealand than just Queenstown? Shout out to my new travel friends for the tip. 

Tip 9: Be present

Put your phone down and be in the moment. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with this one, especially considering my role as a content creator. I am constantly wanting to snap, gram, story and share my travel experiences with friends and family. I could tell it frustrated my boyfriend, which was completely understandable.

Trust me, your trip will be far more enjoyable if you experience it with your own eyes, rather than through a lens and filter. So, put your phone down, embrace the YOLO mentality and soak up some memories. You chose to travel with these people, not your Instagram followers, so make your companions your priority. 

Tip 10: Communicate

To be honest, this tip seems kind of unnecessary considering tips one through nine are all underpinned by communication. It just felt weird to only have nine tips, you know? Look at me being honest and communicating with you, what a great example of what you need to do on holiday.

For more tips on how to budget or divide your cash for your next mates escape or couples retreat, be sure to visit the experts in any of our 140+ stores. They are guaranteed to have a few tips, as well as some pretty fun travel stories of their own.

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