Friday, July 15, 2011


It’s summer, the time when everyone thinks about going on vacation. This month Lonely Planet published an article on “How to Travel with Friends (and not want to kill them).” I highly recommend it to anyone contemplating a vacation with a new squeeze, an old friend or anyone you haven’t traveled with before.

I frequently organize house parties with friends in foreign countries--usually with excellent results. I’ve also done my share of road trips in the US and abroad. Traveling with people I didn’t know well, and even some I knew very well, has had mixed results. Food issues, travel budget, and driving responsibilities rank at the top of reasons trips go bad. I must admit, however, I was almost driven to justifiable (in my mind, at least) homicide by non-stop stream-of-consciousness chatter on a 10-day road trip in Europe. I'd had reservations about this friend-of-a-friend when I was asked if she could come.  A lesson painfully learned.
Lonely Planet is geared toward young, adventurous travelers on a tight budget—not quite my demographic (although budget is a consideration) so my suggestions are a bit more specific and geared to 3 or more travelers. Take them with a grain of salt, tequila optional.
1.       Limit the amount of luggage any one person can bring to what they can carry up two flights of stairs in one trip. If you’re renting a car, it will fit even with three or four passengers. (In my experience, men rarely overpack so they're not likely to be a problem.)
2.       If one person will be driving the entire trip, she/he gets a day off now and then to hang out and rest.
3.       If you’re having a house party, expect to buy a lot of wine and learn how to recycle the bottles. This is especially important in Europe where recycling is mandatory almost everywhere.
4.       Be sure everyone is flexible and considerate of others’ interests. Unless the trip has a specific agenda, it’s unlikely everyone will want to spend every single day shopping, hiking, visiting museums, or eating in the most celebrated restaurants. A variety of activities makes a happier group.
5.       If anyone has any health or fitness issues which will affect the itinerary or activities, let the group know before inviting them. Planning a trip around one person’s limitations isn’t fair to the others unless everyone agrees up front.
6.       Don’t assume that because you’ve known someone for years, they’ll be a good travel companion. Assess their personality and quirks objectively. If your friend is unreliable or  doesn’t play well with others at home, she’ll be a nightmare at a house party in France! Trust me on this one.
Any tips to add to my mine? Stories to share? Come on, dish some dirt.


Sarita said...

Awesome blog, Lark, and I know you speak from great experiece. Still hope someday to take that trip with you and Steve and whomever tags along!


Lark Howard said...

There's always another house party so we'll do it one of these days.