One of the perks of having an extended group of girlfriends is being able to make travel plans and always having someone to go with. It also becomes a blessing when I’m ready to pack up and go and have a posse ready to take that next step and actually commit to the trip. To date, I have traveled several times with different groups of friends, so I’m reflecting on all of them at once and some commonalities.
The excitement surrounding a mutual suggestion—we should take a trip—is beyond measure. I am surrounded by warm smiles and ideas that start to overflow almost too fast for me to keep up with. Everyone seems excited to get away from everyday life, have a great time and make new memories to share for a lifetime, but sometimes the reality is we have not all traveled together before.
Since I have a diverse circle of friends, the tasks at hand naturally begin to fall to those that will do it best. The organizers and planners jump in and start looking for specific locations, the extroverts make sure that the itinerary is filled with a balance of fun and down time and those that fall in between (like me) make sure that everything makes sense or follow along and agree to the plans. After all the conversations, group texts and emails, a trip is planned that includes women that I have never traveled with before. The nerves and excitement are overwhelming for me as we embark on this new level of friendship. I am weary of traveling with those that are too high maintenance, those that don’t want to try new things, or those who constantly complain. These are things that I never really know about my friends until we actually set those travel dates and make it happen. For all I know, I could be walking into a disaster that could last for days.
For all the girl trips I have taken, I can vividly recall how we shared meals, late night snacks and pillow talk before falling asleep mid-conversation. The early birds were always up giggling over their morning coffee and talking about the previous night’s shenanigans as the sleepy heads zombied their way into the kitchen and then we all started laughing together. I also soon discovered the best and not so great attributes of my friends while we were temporarily cohabiting. I mentally noted who took extended time in the shower, who needed a longer wake up time and who shut down early for the night. We each have reasons that got us to this trip in the first place; some of us needed a break from being a mom, a wife, from our significant others, work stresses or just a life break, so I always keep that in mind too.
Through travel experiences, I have connected with other women like I never have before. I’m admittedly nervous about oversharing or being too vulnerable, but strive to live in the moment and enjoy myself. Sometimes I even think—do I show my true colors right away or do I release it a little at a time? I learn to navigate when one friend is being a little annoying and it’s time to excuse myself or take another sip of wine at an interesting comment someone else made in order to keep my opinions to myself and not ruin the vibe. I’m known as a “straight shooter,” so my expressions and comments can feel a little tough if someone doesn’t fully know me or is not ready to hear my perspective, especially if we are in a casual, relaxed setting.
My friends and I have shared lots of laughs and moments that will forever remain, but also shared some frustrations and agitations too. There have been some moments where I felt like I needed to defend myself during some conversations, which is not enjoyable and I quickly determine if I want to travel again with some friends if that’s how it will go next time. I learned so much about my friends’ personalities and I also consider that the older we have all gotten, the more set in our ways we are than when we were much younger. There are sides to them that I can only see after spending multiple days and nights together in new cities and away from our everyday lives.
Over all the years and travels, I have taken many breaths, sips of wine and lots of mental notes and knew that in the end, the moments were all memorable and worth the time, energy and sometimes even the stress. It’s OK to admit that even as friends, we are not compatible to travel together, but we can still have a harmonious friendship and how would we know if we didn’t even try? Even with doubts, I highly recommend traveling with friends because it has helped me reflect on who I am and brought me closer to others that I would have never even guessed.