The idea of traveling to another country with your friends sounds like a dream come true! Imagine: you and your #squad taking flight to a part of the world that is brand new to all of you. Together you’ll explore historical landmarks, navigate public transportation, and eat some of the best food you’ll have in your life. It’s an Instagram story waiting to be told!
While there are certainly a lot of advantages when going abroad with friends, it isn’t always problem-free. Travel can often times be stressful, and how we respond to stress might be far different than how our best friends deal with stress. Plus, having friends when you go abroad means that even though you leave home, you’re bringing your comfort zone with you, and not being as adventurous as you might if you were on your own. Whether you get the chance to share this experience with a good friend or not, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to traveling abroad with your friends.
Advantage: Knowing someone while you’re abroad!
It’s no surprise that moving abroad can be intimidating or scary. Moving to another country for the summer, semester or academic year can be really lonely, and life-changing experiences are always more fun with a friend. They bring some familiarity and security to what might otherwise be a very isolating experience.
Disadvantage: No New Friends
The con of traveling with your friends means that you might not be as independent as you would be if you didn’t know anyone. Instead of approaching other program participants, or your host family to grab dinner, you and your friend may end up isolating yourselves from the rest of the group. While traveling with a friend doesn’t automatically mean you won’t make new friends, it might impact your willingness to try.
Advantage: Fixed Travel Companion and Roommate
If you have the chance to take some side trips during a program abroad, it’s comforting to know you can go see the Leaning Tower of Pisa or Great Wall of China with your friend. Creating memories with a buddy makes them that much more special! Plus, in the event you have to share a room, it can put you at ease knowing you’ll be sharing a space with someone you already feel comfortable with.
Disadvantage: Irritating one another
The downside of spending a lot of time with one person -- you might work each other’s last nerve! We all know this could happen when you surround yourself by the same person during your courses, in your free time and at home. It can be a recipe for disaster!
Advantage: Shared Interests and Habits
Already knowing each other means you have established that you both may have similar tastes. You may be more compatible with your study schedule and working style, the type of restaurants you both like, or making side trips to your top travel destinations.
Disadvantage: Knowing each other’s likes/dislikes...and wanting to do something anyway
The downside of knowing everything about your friend? Knowing they may not have the same adventurous spirit to try something brand new that you want to do. Or worse, you may find yourself having to do things you don't have any interest in (or budget for), just to go along with your friend.
Advantage: Making Friends with your Friends’ Friends!
Let’s say you’re studying abroad, and you and your friend take different courses, but reconnect at lunch or for studying. If you made new friends with people in your respective classes, that could mean having even more new friends instantly! Knowing someone you trust has found fun people to spend time with means you gain new friends, too.
Disadvantage: Only Speaking English
If you stick to your friend during your entire time abroad, you might not be as willing to immerse yourself in the local language the way you would if you traveled alone. Only speaking English without being ‘forced’ to practice could impact your ability to learn the language more quickly.
These are just a few advantages and disadvantages, but there are plenty of other reasons why traveling with friends can be a good thing...or a bad thing.
Going abroad is a transformative experience, and it’s one we all wish we could share with the people in our lives we care about the most. But sometimes, it’s missing those people and being on our own that makes the experience have the impact that it does. Sharing adventures with your loved ones is always exciting, and at the end of the day, having a good friend along for the ride can only be a good thing. Just make sure you both understand what this experience represents for you, and what you each hope to gain from it so that you can support one another 100%.