The school year is almost over — hooray! And I’m guessing most of us need to let loose before getting back into the swing of things, and travelling is one way to do it. But travelling with friends is a whole other ballpark. I have unforgettable memories of sitting under the Pacific rainforest and travelling the badlands of Montana to the coasts of Oregon with my friends. These trips were amazing; because of this, I know how hard it can be to make a trip extraordinary.

Just this month, I had a trip planned to Seattle until it got blown to smithereens. To be fair, we had no plans other than going to the fish markets in Pike Place and checking out the parties on Capitol Hill. Sadly, we didn't even make it across the border — not from a lack of legal trying, but I digress.

This brings me to my overall advice: make a plan. Oh, but not just any contingency plan; I want you to have plans B, C, D, and E figured out before you start jet-setting worldwide. I know this sounds blah, but you're not alone, and everything has to be decided together. This is not Top Gun, and you are not the Maverick about to fly by the seat of your pants.

Planning a trip means a lot of things. As a group, you need to figure out so many variables that it will make your head spin. I know I’ve been there. So, I compiled a checklist to consider before you book that trip with the childhood friend you haven't seen for a while or even that friend you just met in dorms this year.

  1. Assign Your Roles

Okay, so who's driving? Who's navigating? And who's eating all the snacks? It could be that you're splitting duties or staying out of each other's lane, but make sure to figure that out before you're on your way to the airport or the next intersection. Nothing builds resentment like waiting for your friend to pick up your mental cues, and nothing happens.

  1. Figure Out the Baggage

This is also a great idea metaphorically, but I mean literal baggage. Where are you travelling, and how much room do you have to bring your things? Are you backpacking, getting a rental car, or taking transit? Bringing this up beforehand is essential if other people need to worry about your stuff. Nothing is more annoying than having a friend pile a ton of luggage on you when you least expect it.

  1. Do Your Routines Work Together?

Yes, it does matter if you are a night owl or a morning bird: the activities you both enjoy might be completely different because of it. Also, aside from sleeping schedules, if your other habits — such as showering and getting ready — differ significantly, waiting on each other can be challenging. 

Also, we all know what it's like to be hangry, so talk about eating plans beforehand. Are you eating light meals throughout the day, sitting down for meals at prescribed times, or dining separately? Discussing these habitats is a surefire way to avoid mid-trip bickering.

  1. What Are the Hard Plans?

It's good to be flexible on every trip and see where life will take you, but sometimes, there are things we want to do. Make a list of must-do activities and allow each other to pick up to three. That way, no one's expectations are being thrown out the window, and a reasonable amount of time can be set aside for each other.

  1. Finalize Your Finances

You need to make a budget. Oh, is there an echo somewhere? Everything from accommodation to food, activities, and travel needs to be budgeted because, as we all know, we are all in different places. If you can’t afford to eat out at three-star Michelin restaurants every night, that's fine, so plan some cheaper options. Travelling on less than your friends is fine, but work together to ensure it is equally enjoyable for everyone.

  1. What is Your Travel Style?

For clarification, travel style is how you like to use your time on a trip. Do you like being active, going on excursions, or checking out the culture of the towns you're in? You may even enjoy meeting new people to invite to the group. Or, if you're like me, you can be found laying out and finishing a Sarah J. Mass book series on a lounge chair. Have a chat beforehand to see what everyone in your group would like to get out of the trip because not every trip is even the same. 

If you still want to make it work, remember that it is okay to have some alone time when travelling with friends. It is even better to break off into smaller groups so everyone can experience what others might not be interested in.

My last piece of advice is to keep the planner handy after exams are over. Trust me, even if it takes some time to work out the kinks, a friend trip can be so worth it.