Garrett and I were sitting down to dinner
the other night and the first thing I thought was, “It’s so quiet! I miss Julia and Thomas!” Our trip to Alaska was hands down the best trip I’ve ever taken. The closest trip as far as amazingness goes in my memory is when my eighth grade class went to Italy. But we were kids.
This trip to Alaska is the kind of adventure I think every person in their twenties should experience.
It doesn’t have to be Alaska (although, I’m a huge fan now to say the least), but a road trip. With a small, close group of friends. Go with a flexible itinerary– one that will keep you on track but also gives you the freedom to relax and explore at will. And, above everything else, have fun.
The whole time we were traveling, I just kept thinking, “This can’t be real life.” Not only were we in this insanely beautiful setting and venturing through unknown (and sometimes muddy) land, but we were having the times of our lives simply by being together. And you know it’s a good sign when you get back and immediately start scheming/saving/planning for the next trip.
My tips for planning the best friend trip:
1. Get excited | I was actually a little nervous about the trip. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect and we were traveling with friends we hadn’t yet traveled with before. But having a group text for the weeks leading up with a few Google docs (itinerary, maps, packing lists) allowed all of us to get really excited. Half the fun is the countdown and build up for the trip.
2. Pick some place no one has been before | The four of us decided we wanted to travel together back in February. Julia had visited a friend in Anchorage ten years ago, but hadn’t seen a lot of Alaska and the rest of us had never been at all. I do think trips are fun when someone can play tour guide and take you to amazing places, but there’s something really fun about discovering a place for the first time at the same time. The excitement we each had when we’d pull off the road and see a stunning mountain was really fun to enjoy together.
3. Be on the same page and set expectations | I cannot emphasize this enough… everyone needs to be on the same page. Traveling with friends is different than hanging out with friends. It’s 24/7 friendship! I’ve traveled with friends before where it just doesn’t “work.” We get along perfect for a few hours at a time, but long term? No.
The four of us spent almost every second together, including hours on end in the car, and never got sick of one another. We knew going into the trip that we wanted to pull over as often as possible to take in new sights and take photos. We all knew what kinds of activities we did and didn’t want to do.
4. Eat often | This is a huge huge tip. EAT OFTEN. Be the person who recommends a stop for a snack. Keep sweet and/or savory bars in your purse. Insist on breakfast and a morning coffee. I’m not going to point fingers, but some people (ahem, the guys) would get cranky if we went too long without food. I think 99% of road trip problems can be solved with a little snack or two. We actually stopped at the Target in Anchorage right after we landed at the airport to stock up on snacks for the car. If something’s not going well or moods seem off, suggest you stop somewhere for a little meal.
5. Smile | Traveling with friends is different than traveling with family. With your family, it’s easier (and possibly even expected) for you to be a little short. With friends, it’s almost always worth it to smile, let something go, and remind yourself to enjoy your time together. There will very likely be something that bugs you, rubs you the wrong way, or maybe even frustrates you. Be a good friend and compromise, forgive, and smile. Maybe you don’t make it all the way to the top of a mountain (sorry guys! that wind was freaking me out!!!) or perhaps you end up hiking up a slippery, rocky hill wearing Converse sneakers (happened)… do it all with a smile! The bottom line is that the trip should be fun and often that means you should simply smile.
Have you ever done a road trip with a group of friends? Any tips to add?