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6 Tips for Travelling Abroad With Friends For The First Time

The true test of a friendship is to survive an international group trip.

Travelling abroad with friends, especially for the first time, can either take your friendship to another level or break it altogether. No matter how long you know each other, there will always be disagreements and challenges throughout the trip.

From conflicting itineraries to having different budgets, navigating the dynamics of a group trip requires careful planning and communication. However, travelling with friends does not need to feel like walking on eggshells all the time. 

With a bit of planning, communication, and a positive mindset, you can create more memories with your friends and strengthen your bond.

Here are some essential tips to finally make that friend trip happen.

1. Identify if you are a Traveller or a Vacationer

girl exploring a city

Are you a traveller or a vacationer? 

At first glance, the two might sound the same. But there’s a huge difference between them, and if you travel with someone who isn’t the same travel archetype as you are, there are bound to be differences (which may lead to arguments, yikes!). 

A traveller is often someone curious with a strong desire to explore all corners of the world. They’re all about soaking up the local culture, trying exotic foods, and chatting up the locals for insider tips. Think of them as the ultimate adventurers, always wanting to explore the most popular sites while also searching for hidden gems.

A vacationer, on the other hand, travels to unwind. Oftentimes, they can be found by the beach with a fresh coconut in hand, soaking up the rays and enjoying every moment of pure bliss. Even if they’re not outdoorsy, they often just want to relax whenever they travel.

So, how does a wanderlust-filled traveller go on a trip with a vacation-loving friend? 

You find a middle ground. 

Fill your itinerary with things to do that will satisfy your desire to explore a destination while making it “chill” enough to accommodate your vacationer friend. 

Some examples of activities that meet-in-between are:

  • Cafe-hopping 
  • Take a stroll around town (bonus: even better if there are some historical sites in the area so you can have the option to explore them alone or with friends)
  • Explore local boutiques and business
  • Join cultural workshops (Eg: batik painting in Indonesia, brewing the perfect cup of matcha latte in Japan)

2. Communicate Boundaries

two girls communicating on a sofa

Setting boundaries and expectations before the friend group travels abroad is crucial for creating a respectful and enjoyable environment where everyone can make the most of their time together.

Some things to discuss to minimise misunderstandings between friends:

  • Sleeping Arrangements: Make sure everyone knows where they’re crashing for the night. Some might prefer their own bed, while others are cool to share. This is important for a good night’s sleep. You don’t want anyone to be grumpy the next morning.
  • Bringing Along Significant Others: Sometimes, significant others are part of the friend group, especially if they’ve been together for a long time. If someone wants to bring their significant other on the trip, make sure everyone is cool with it and set some ground rules so nobody feels left out.
  • Respect Each Other’s Space and Belongings: Keep your hands off each other’s belongings and give them space when needed. Establish rules for borrowing items, using shared spaces, and cleaning up after oneself. Everyone should feel comfortable and secure knowing their possessions and personal space will be respected throughout the trip.

3. Stick to a Budget

plan travel budget

Are you freaking out because you just got added to a group chat named “Japan 2024” knowing that you’re down on your last few hundred ringgit, but you also don’t wanna disappoint your friends and join in on the fun? 

You’re not alone.

Money talk can be awkward, especially if this is your first time talking to your friends about it. However, being honest with your friends about your financial situation is important. 

It’s all about keeping the peace and avoiding awkward “who’s paying for what” moments during the trip. Plus, it helps ensure everyone can afford to join in on the fun without breaking the bank or feeling left out.

4. Schedule Alone Time

Spending a lot of time together can be challenging, so be sure to give each other some space when needed. Don’t be afraid to go off on your own for a bit.

Even the best of friends need a break from each other at times.

Taking some alone time doesn’t mean there is drama in the friend group. It’s just a chance to recharge and do your own thing. You might even come back feeling refreshed with unique experiences to share with one another.

If you’re anxious about having some alone time in a foreign country, here are a few tips to help ease your worries:

  • Stay connected with friends at all times (get a sim card with roaming)
  • Learn the basics of the local language (apps like Duolingo are great for that!)
  • Get travel insurance (TripCare 360 covers loss of personal belongings and medical care)

5. Download Essential Travel Apps

Etiqa+

The Etiqa+ App is a must-have app for travelling internationally. With the app, you have access to your travel insurance policy and support for medical emergencies, lost belongings, and other travel mishaps. Having the app with you offers peace of mind, knowing that you have all the information you need at the tip of your fingers.

Wise

The Wise app allows you to check exchange rates and convert them to over 40 currencies with just a few clicks. The app also comes with digital cards, making paying abroad easy. You can also request a physical debit card to make transactions while travelling. With this app, you can see every transaction with its conversion rates, making keeping track of your expenditure while travelling super easy!

Splitwise

If you’re travelling internationally with a group of friends, Splitwise is a free app that will help you keep track of expenses. You can create a group, add your friends and key in what they’ve paid for and the app will do all the accounting for you.

Spotify, YouTube & Netflix

Entertainment apps like Spotify, YouTube, and Netflix are going to keep you sane on long-haul flights. They’re your ticket to staying entertained throughout the journey. Plus, watching a movie or listening to the same songs with your friends can also add to the fun of the trip. Not all fun has to start when you land at your destination.

Remember to bring your earphones! You won’t want to annoy fellow travellers sitting around you on the flight, and you can block out any unwanted noise on your journey, too!

Kindle

The Kindle app is a favourite for many avid readers. The free app has a ton of free books from different genres. However, some of the more popular books aren’t free on the app. If you’re looking for more well-known titles, Kindle Unlimited is a monthly subscription you might be interested in! 

6. Don’t Stress, Have Fun!

group of malaysian friends

Last but not least, don’t stress—just have fun! Don’t overthink it.

You’re travelling with people you genuinely enjoy being around. Even if things don’t go as planned, a little compromise can make the group trip enjoyable.

While putting time and energy into pre-trip preparation might be beneficial, remember to reserve some of that energy to make new memories with friends by re-creating TikTok travel trends or taking as many photos and videos together!

Embarking on an international group trip with friends can be both exciting and challenging. However, by setting clear boundaries, respecting each other’s needs, and embracing flexibility, your friend group can navigate any obstacles. 

Remember, the true essence of travel lies in the shared experiences, laughter, and memories you create together.

So, pack your bags.

It’s time to make that “Japan 2024” trip actually happen.


The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as advice on any matter. Etiqa accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in the article. This information is correct as of 8th May 2024.