This post originally appeared on HaveHeart Magazine.
It’s the middle of the summer, and if you haven’t planned a kickass vacation yet, you best hurry up! You deserve it, and these beautiful, toasty, sunny months are bound to go by too fast. Now, I understand that sometimes work or money gets in the way, but don’t fret! It doesn’t have to.
Behold the beauty of weekend trips!
A weekend trip with your closest friends is the perfect getaway for amazing memories, and it’s also a great addition to other summer travels you may have (you lucky dog). Whether this is your one big trip of the summer, or a little extra somethin’ to keep things spicy, a weekender won’t require tons of spending–but it will require planning. Keep these tips in mind when figuring out your getaway with friends:
* Be honest.
Yes, it’s a couple’s or group’s trip and you should certainly compromise so everyone’s happy. But that goes both ways, so be honest. If you really, truly hate riding on boats and a cruise is in the running, say so.
When my roommates and I were thinking about where to head one weekend, it was between Sonoma and Santa Cruz. My one roomie wasn’t too excited about Sonoma and she told us right away–and it’s a good thing she did, because we had a blast in Santa Cruz!
The bottom line is, you’re traveling with people you care about and who care about you, and the last thing anyone would want is for you to be less than excited about the trip. If you have an opinion, voice it and be heard.
* Communicate to create a budget.
The money part is always tricky. My best friend gets teased that her middle name is “Insufficient Funds” because of a trip we took to Vegas that left her for broke. I was luckier and returned with $9 in my bank account! We can joke about it now, but it was not our finest moment.
The best way to make sure that everyone stays on the same page money-wise is to have everyone involved in the budgeting. There are some costs you won’t be able to avoid–flights, lodging, or gas for the car, for example–but you can control how much you spend outside of those things.
Break down the trip so that you predict every cost you will incur. From there, if the price isn’t right, work with that total cost to bring it to an amount that works for everyone. This might mean taking the bus to the airport instead of a taxi, getting balcony seats for a show instead of orchestra seats, or eating lunch at a food truck instead of at a restaurant.
When you break it down, there aren’t any surprises. No one will feel like they’re holding the group back from doing fun things, and everyone can have a realistic expectation of the trip–activity-wise, and money-wise!
* Schedule alone time.
People are not meant to be together 24/7. You may love your friends or significant other like crazy, but nobody’s perfect and everyone needs breathing room. Even a soak in the tub while you read a book or a short walk in the park can be just the trick to give everyone a little space before you reconvene for the next fun activity.
I head to LA some weekends to visit my main squeeze, and we spend most of the time together. But on Fridays I usually have a little time to kill before he gets done with his job, so I find a nice happy hour at a restaurant in the neighborhood. It’s always a treat to be out and have that time to myself amid a weekend that I’m primarily sharing with another person.
Scheduling alone time can be a breeze if you’ve accurately budgeted and been honest with everyone (above). If you really want to get to the art museum, someone else wants to go on an urban hike, and another person is craving some high-end shopping, you can all do what you want and what you can afford. Do one activity solo for small portion of time, and when you get back together you’ll all have something exciting to talk about!
* Share responsibilities.
I did a small road trip through Death Valley a few months ago. Even though I really enjoyed playing navigator and figuring out music and discussion topics, I offered to drive whenever it was needed. Would I have rather been sitting in the passenger seat? Probably. But it was a responsibility I needed to share so that everyone involved could enjoy the ride to the fullest.
It’s everyone’s vacation, so everyone needs to put in the effort to make it work. The best way to go about it is for everyone to be in host/hostess mindset and to constantly offer help. There shouldn’t be just one person picking the restaurants, figuring out directions to the next location, or driving on a road trip. Unless it’s been happily agreed by everyone, trade off on different tasks so that any stress isn’t weighing on just one person. This can lead to resentment, which is the death of a fun vacation.
Now get out and enjoy that weekend! Tweet your weekender experiences to @HaveHeartMag and @t_christine–we’d love to hear all about it. Check back for a new Travel That next month.
Photo credits: moi