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TIPS & HACKS

Travel with buddies: between myths and realities

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I remember the day Laura suggested that we travel with our friends.

That was a few years ago. We were a small group of four girls who were broke, but we were a tight-knit group of students and we wanted to discover the world.

So Laura, a big hothead with a thirst for adventure, came up with this idea and without thinking too much, we decided to follow her. 

And that's how we ended up in London for a week of madness. 

Sounds exciting, when you put it like that, doesn't it? 
Well, what if I told you that, in reality, things aren't so simple? 

For example, Laura didn't lift a finger to find our accommodation and Caroline grumbled at every restaurant because the food wasn't to her taste.

I realised that this trip, of which I still have very good memories, was not as rosy as I had imagined.

Well, my experience was not as surprising as Amélie's girls trip to Bulgaria,  but I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the behaviour of my friends who made this trip a little less exciting than I had hoped.

The good news is that it opened my eyes to what it meant to travel with buddies: between myths and realities, there are many dissonances between the image you might have and the actual facts once there.

So I decided to share with you my reality on the subject. 

Perhaps you will recognise some of your own experiences…


<h2>Myth number 1: Travel with friends makes it easier to organize the trip</h2>
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So this one is quite a misconception. 

It has to be said that it starts from an infallible logic: the more you are, the more you can share the tasks, the more efficient you can be in organising your trip.
It's true that in an ideal world, that's how it works. 

But then, by dint of working in a group, we realise that life is far from being a Disney film and that there are always some who do less than others by taking advantage of their devotion.

Reality : 

I can assure you that when you travel with buddies, the same reality hits.

There is always one who does less than the others, who may even disappear discreetly during all the preparations and who will only come back to board the plane.

So certainly, you don't need to be ten to compare the different couchsurfing platforms.

But when you find yourself alone looking for different prices, different means of transport, different solutions, I can assure you that the organisation of the trip takes an unthinkable professional turn. 

Ah yes, nothing more to do with a girls' holiday: you suddenly find yourself playing travel agents in front of demanding customers. Because, what's more, the same friends who don't help you sometimes play the finicky game when faced with your various suggestions.

Definitely a good reason to want to give up everything to travel on your own. Going on a solo trip VS with travel buddies... It's a real debate that deserves some thought.

In any case, even if you have to organise everything on your own... You might as well enjoy it on your own. 

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<h2>Myth number 2: Living a unique human adventure</h2>
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Well, first of all, the term "human adventure" needs to be explained to me... It's used so wrongly that it ends up losing its meaning.

Because the "you'll see, when you travel with buddies it is a real human adventure", what does it mean exactly? 

If it means staying only with your friends, chatting amongst yourselves and never opening up to others, then yes, in a way, you are going to live a unique and exclusive human adventure.

Reality: 

On the other hand, if, like me, you think it's more about going to meet the country you're visiting, opening yourself up to local traditions, enriching yourself with your discoveries and learning from this new environment for your future, then I think we're on to a new myth.

It must be said that when we travel with buddies, we tend to stay among ourselves: we sleep at the hotel, we go to restaurants, we chat while making visits... And that's it.

Camille, a friend, shared an anecdote with me some weeks ago, which I find very representative. 

"I went to Spain one day with two great friends. 

We were so looking forward to enjoying this country: we all babbled a few words of Spanish and we could already see ourselves sharing evenings with locals, getting to know each other and having fun until the end of the night. 

In the end, we spent our days at the hotel's swimming pool before going to the restaurant and then to the bar... Where we stayed between us. We never opened ourselves to others. 
I remember that, the third evening, a girl came up to us, curious to hear us speaking in French... But we were so caught up in our conversations that we didn't make the effort to translate our stories and she left. 

As a result, I didn't discover much of Spain: apart from tapas, a few streets in Valencia and several glasses of local wine. That's my great regret, although at the time I didn't feel like I was missing much".

Whereas when you travel alone, you take the time to discover the destination, to savour it and to immerse yourself, especially if you choose homesharing to sleep which is the way to beautiful encounters.

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There are many reasons to go on a solo holiday, and if you are looking for a real human adventure, then this is certainly the best way.

If you still prefer to go with your friends, then I can only advise you to stay as open as possible: it requires a little effort but resisting the call of the group will open many doors for you. 


<h2>Myth number 3: Endless laughter</h2>
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Personally, it is this statement that makes me smile.

Many people have this image in mind: a group of close-knit friends who, in the course of a faraway journey, share countless laughs and moments of complicity.

This is not false: when you travel with buddies, it brings many surprises, often laughable. 
But what we don't think about are the tensions and disputes that can also arise.

Reality: 

In fact, not everything is always funny, or at least, you won't always agree. 

Just because you want to go hiking doesn't mean that Chloe will want to go with you: if she prefers to spend her day kayaking, how are you going to disagree?

That's what I blame for this myth: it's not because we travel with buddies that we're always going to want the same things, on the contrary.

Going on holiday is a real disconnection from your daily life, a rare moment that you want to enjoy as you wish. But when you're together, you have to make sacrifices, give up certain activities, or even simply take it upon yourself when you're upset to keep a good group atmosphere.

You are going to live with your friends, during these few days or weeks of travel: but you are not used to that and you necessarily come up against moments of incomprehension or misunderstanding.

It may seem silly, but I assure you that in the long term, it weighs on you. 

For example, I'm a late riser (I definitely have a fusional relationship with my bed): Laura was an early riser and it was a real source of conflict.

I prefer to get up later but enjoy the night to the fullest, but she favours an early morning and thus, an early bedtime. 

We had to acclimatise to each other but in the end neither she nor I were able to get along and so we experienced some frustration throughout the trip.

So, before you laugh yellow during your friend's trip, think about it and talk with your friends to better organise your planning. 

It's time to confess your passionate relationship with your bed to all of them!


<h2>Myth number 4: Tying strong and indestructible bonds together</h2>
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This is certainly the most debatable point.

On the one hand, it is obvious that an experience like this will bring you closer together: you will share common memories, hilarious or sometimes moving anecdotes. 

Travelling, even if it's close to home, even if it's short, always brings something and you learn a lot from what you've experienced.

Sharing it with friends is very enriching and brings us closer together. 

It reminds me of my improvised weekend with my Finnish friend, whom I met on a solo trip. We went to Rome on a whim: two short, but intense days which united us for life for all the adventures that happened to us... 

Reality: 

But here's the thing (you saw this "but" coming, didn't you?): sometimes a journey can separate or, in a less extreme way, highlight differences between you and your friends. And yes, we are not all made to be accompanied during our holidays.

I remember one evening in London: everything went (relatively) well until a simple pizza story.

There were three of us who wanted to eat in one restaurant but Caroline preferred another. This simple anecdote became a real source of tension: she didn't want to eat at the restaurant we had chosen, so much so that we had to divide our group to please her...

A ridiculous whim, I grant you, but one that clearly made a break in our initial dynamic. 

Tensions, when you travel with buddies, often come up unexpectedly on a silly subject... And your bonds, instead of being welded together, sometimes find themselves, on the contrary, a little shaken.

It's well said that in a couple, communication is the key: between friends too. 

So don't hesitate to talk openly with your friends, before a pizza gets in your way.


<h2>Myth number 5: Building the best memories of your life</h2>
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True... But false at the same time.

In fact, it all depends on what is "best" for you.

Travelling with friends is an inexhaustible source of memories for everything you will share: laughter, confidence, adventures... The kind of anecdotes that will put a smile on your face when you rethink about that memorable trip.

I went on a road trip on a scooter with one of my best friends and for all the hardships we went through, I can assure you that this trip was a hilarious memory that I like to share.

As soon as I see this friend again, we are forced to go through a little nostalgic phase where we remember that day of pouring rain when the tyre punctured... Or the time when we drove for three hours in the wrong direction. 

We indeed thought it was weird to approach the mountains when we were looking for the sea!

Reality: 

But, as you have certainly understood, I have also had the chance to make many solo trips and the memories I get from them are special.

They may not be as funny or as absurd as the ones I've been able to share with my friends: but they are the best I have, because it's thanks to these experiences that I've built myself. 

In fact, my memories of travelling alone are the motivations that guide me on a daily basis: when I face a difficulty, I tell myself that I was still able to go to Italy at the age of 16 when I didn't speak a word of Italian. 

When I find myself inefficient, or paralysed by inertia, I remember that I went to Germany and that I was able to get by to such an extent that I made the most beautiful encounters of my life there.

I could give you many more examples of what my solo travels have brought me, but everything is already explained in the 5 reasons that push you to go on solo trips.

Myths have a hard skin: it's difficult to deconstruct a representation you have.

However, it is an important process because it allows us to become aware of the reality that awaits us... And to avoid many disillusions.

I'm not saying that travelling with buddies will only bring you problems and disappointments, on the contrary, some trips can be incredible if you pay attention to all these little points.

I'm just saying that you shouldn't dream too much: travelling with friends can be a great experience that can be disrupted by small things.

I would have liked to have thought of all this when Laura suggested this trip with friends: I would have known how to smooth out the few problems we encountered to make the most of this London excursion.

But as it is by forging that one becomes a blacksmith, it is by travelling that one becomes a true adventurer. 

LIFESTYLE| TRAVEL
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