So you want to go on a friend holiday. Amazing. Terrific life decision.
You might just have the actual time of your goddamn life, if you do it properly. A couple of years ago, my little gaggle of best friends and I went to a Greek island for 10 days, gorged on feta, paddled about in the turquoise water and staged endless photo shoots among the foliage.
It was pretty perfect, to be honest – but not all mate holidays can be. Sharing a place with your faves, clashing over what you’d like to do and getting up in each other’s personal space can be a shortcut to conflict (or, more likely, some serious passive aggression). Nobody wants to lose a friendship on holiday.
So! Let’s run through a few things you can do to keep the peace and have fun when you’re boarding a plane or a train or a car to somewhere glorious with your buddies.
Be organised (but not too organised)
Inevitably, one of you will go mad with the holiday organising: spreadsheets, itineraries, schedules. There’s one in every friendship group and if that’s you, learn to cool it a bit.
You want to be organised, sure, but you also need to preserve plenty of free time for spontaneity. Get all the essentials like transport and accommodation booked in to minimise stress or the possibility of being stranded.
Maybe have a look at local activities if you fancy it but you will absolutely, definitely cause tension if you martial your friends through a tightly organised lineup of pre-planned activities.
Some of the most wonderful holiday experiences happen when you’re wandering the streets of a city, getting lost, stumbling upon little cafes or wine bars or markets that you wouldn’t have found by Googling ‘things to do Zante’.
Trying to force everyone into a strict schedule of organised fun will not end well but if you absolutely need to, block out some ‘free time’ every day and pop it into your diary.
Compromise on holiday activities
There are many different types of travellers, and I’m sure your friendship group is comprised of a few.
Some people love to get as lazy as possible on holiday, lying on the sand with a book and a cocktail. Others like to lace up their walking shoes and visit every gallery, museum and artefact the place has to offer.
If you have a clash of holidaying style, you’re going to have to learn to compromise. When you’re talking about what you want to do, try and get everyone’s preferences in – or split up.
You can trade activity time: ‘If we spend the morning by the beach, I’d love to drop by one art gallery this afternoon’. Or, you could take votes on what you’d like to do: ‘We’re going to head to the museum while you guys sunbathe, meet you back at the hotel for dinner’.
Be open about what you want to do because there’s nothing worse than traipsing around, following someone else’s holiday plan, quietly raging. Be gently assertive if there’s something you really don’t feel comfortable doing, and otherwise just try and keep everyone happy.
Take care of your introverts
The basic difference between an extrovert and an introvert is the way they restore their energy. An extrovert replenishes their stores of energy by being around people, while an introvert needs alone time to stock up.
You are probably travelling with introverts, whether you know it or not. They will most likely find being in constant company quite draining. They love you! But they’re delicate and they need a little peace to recoup.
So, you might want to make sure that your introverted friends get time in the afternoon for a little nap or a little space to be on their own. Don’t take it personally and don’t be offended. Just gently allow your beloved introverts to rest and restore themselves when they need to, even if it means sitting out one of the planned activities.
Don’t get all judgmental
You’re going to be spending more time than usual with your mates. Mealtimes, bedtimes, all times. So you’re bound to notice things you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
Try to be as loving and kind and patient as possible. Remember that you adore these people, but you cannot tell them how to live their lives. Maybe you wish your friend would eat a few more carbs, maybe you wish they wouldn’t snore. Maybe you’re not that keen on how much your mate drinks, maybe you wish they’d turn their work emails off.
If you’re really concerned by something you notice a friend doing, have a gentle chat with them some other time. Picking on someone’s habits while you’re all on holiday is only going to cause tension and conflict and probably hurt.
Everyone is different and they run their lives the way they want and the way they can. You cannot impose your standards or expectations on somebody else just because you’re spending all this time with them. Save it for a better time, or simply learn to live with it.
Be sensitive about money and alcohol
You are not all necessarily on the same budget – and talking about money can be seriously intense. So be mindful of suggesting expensive activities to do or restaurants to go to, in case it’s out of someone’s budget.
Do plenty of free and cheap things, so that everyone feels comfortable, and check before booking something that costs money.
The same sort of rule applies to alcohol consumption. People have different tolerances, so be cool about it if one of your friends needs to take it easy. Do not pressure anyone into spending or drinking more than they want to.
You do you, and give your mates permission to do them.
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