5 Things I've Learnt from Travelling with Friends

5 Things I’ve Learnt from Travelling with Friends

They say travelling with friends can be quite the challenge – from navigating completely new territory to learning how to get through both the ups and downs of travelling as a team.
This year in May, I travelled to Malaysia with a group of four friends for our graduation trip. It was a last-minute decision as we were all busy with school, part-time work, and our final year projects. We didn’t have much time to properly plan our getaway. Nonetheless, I’m glad everything worked out.

Faiqah, Sumaya, Me, Jahafar and Alvin in a cafe at Johor Bahru

With only five vacation days allotted for the trip, we decided to visit three cities: Johor Bahru, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur. In between the endless amounts of food we devoured, sights we saw, and all the shopping we did, here are some key lessons I’ve learned from travelling together with my buddies:

1. Know that healthy compromise goes a long way

My friends and I are a ragtag bunch of misfits. Jahafar and Sumaya met in our second year of university and dated for two years before eventually tying the knot last December. They’re our clique’s mummy and daddy – a power couple we all look up to. Faiqah’s the punk rock goth princess, while Alvin is our go-to meme provider and designated photographer.

During our four years at University, we bonded over our collective differences and shared tendencies towards individualism and unconventionality. What held our friendship together was not so much similar interests as communal acceptance and love – things which so often triumphed over the disparities in our personalities.

Before we even began our trip, it was clear that compromise was needed in order to make our time with each other bearable. All of us have vastly differing lifestyle habits as well as thresholds for patience. While Jahafar and Faiqah veer towards hyper-adventure, Alvin and I are more easy-going. Deciding on where to go and what to do was a headache at times because we all had different ideas of what would make for an ideal day out. We had to learn to give and take in order to reach an outcome that pleased everyone.

2. Be clear about money matters

My friends and I set some ground rules when we were planning our trip. We agreed to collect a set amount of money from each person at the start of the day to form a group fund that we would use to pay for our meals, transport fares, and entry fees. Any leftover cash would be carried over to the next day, and there would be a person in charge of our funds for the day.

There was little issue about spending beyond our communal budget, because we set boundaries and took into account everyone’s opinions. We shared whatever food we had and split any extra bills equally. Just as nobody likes a freeloader or a stingy pal, we bore in mind that money shouldn’t be an issue when travelling with friends.

3. Drop the negativity

When you travel with friends, you really get to know them inside out. I was thankful to have been blessed with friends who loved me in spite of all the hassle I put them through, from the hour-long waits for the toilet at night to the copious amounts of toilet paper I needed to use every morning.

During our five-day trip together, all of us found things we disliked about each other. I couldn’t stand how Faiqah drenched the toilet paper every time she took a shower, while she couldn’t stand how I left my used tissues lying around our Airbnb. Sumaya was an early sleeper who hated it when we had midnight laughing fits over Faiqah’s hilarious Tinder matches.

Whenever things felt like they were heating up, we would stop in our tracks in order to prevent things from escalating into a full-blown argument. We also learned that disagreements were best resolved on the same day, and that apologies work wonders. We constantly reminded ourselves that we were on this trip to have fun and not to make each other’s lives miserable.

4. Appreciate how friends can help you through your midnight existential crises

Over the course of our trip, I had frequent bouts of existential crises. This happened at bedtime when I was supposed to be sleeping, with questions about life and the future preventing me from retiring for the night. Faiqah – who was rooming with me at the time – helped a great deal in discussing these deep-seated thoughts with me and allaying my fears. If not for her, I would have probably cried myself to sleep caught up in all my worries and ruining what should be an enjoyable vacation.

5. Give each other some breathing room

When you’re with friends for 24 hours in a five-day stretch, you’re bound to feel like slapping each other at some point. At the end of a long day out exploring the city, we made sure to give each other time and space to retreat into our own safe zones. Jahafar and Sumaya had their lovey-dovey couple time while Faiqah and I jammed to our individual tunes on Spotify. After all, even the closest of friends need a bit of time out from each other once in awhile.

To good friends and even greater adventures

Traveling is a spectacular journey on its own, let alone when it’s done with friends. The five of us went through quite a bit over our five days together, from navigating completely new territory to learning how to get through both the ups and downs of travelling as a team. Needless to say, our friendship emerged only stronger after our amazing vacation together.

About Author

Melanie Lim
Melanie Lim

Travel writer by vocation, Instagram aficionado by passion. Melanie’s interests include reading, photography and social media. If you're looking for buoyancy or creativity, she’s your best bet.

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