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A group road trip can be full of great memories — or the stuff of nightmares. Sure, it sounds like a good idea in theory. But when you’re on day four approaching infinity and stuck on the side of the road or fantasizing about taking off without your friends at the next rest stop, you’ll find yourself wondering why you thought a group road trip was a good idea. To maximize your chances of having a good time (and minimize your chances of saying or doing something you’ll regret), here’s a list of things you should never do on a group road trip.

1. Never go without a plan

Group road trip
Group road trip | Getty Images

RVshare agrees it’s one thing to spend a Saturday night wandering around downtown, going with the flow of whatever the evening brings. It’s quite another to hop into a vehicle and start driving aimlessly, especially with others in tow. Entire books have been written and trip planning apps developed to help you avoid problems. So it’s important to approach your trip with a plan, especially if you have a few buddies along for the ride.

No matter how long you’ve known your friends, you’ll likely learn something new about them when traveling together. And if you’ve never traveled with them overnight at least once, you’ll quickly learn how well they react to being out of their comfort zone, to stress, and to you.

There’s no more putting on airs, no more social niceties, and no more filters when you’re crammed into a vehicle together for hours. Because shared travel and travel-related stress can bring out the worst in some people, it’s best to have a solid plan that can mitigate the risk of such stress.

2. Never expect your plan to account for everything on a group road trip

It’s also important to note that rarely do things go according to plan. Be prepared for some things to go awry — things you didn’t account for.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t spend time making an itinerary. After all, there’s a big difference between making repairs with the emergency roadside kit you planned to pack and the one you forgot.

So plan, but also carry a flexible attitude that will help you remain calm and adapt in the face of annoyance and adversity. When you approach group road trips this way, your friends will follow suit when troubles beset you and avoid making a bad situation worse.

3. Never assume all of your friends are on the same page

It’s easy to assume your friends will share your perspective on your group road trip. After all, you all have so much in common, and you’re so close. But we are all different people. And you and your friends could be on different pages about many things relevant to your trip, including what you and they want to get out of it, intended stops, and how you’ll approach challenges.

Unfortunately, most groups don’t get together to discuss their expectations and trip plans. They’re then surprised, disheartened, or even angry when fissures emerge in what they believed were shared expectations. And when differing perspectives emerge during a challenging situation, those differences can quickly make a bad situation worse.

Not only should you develop a plan, but you should also take the time to sit down with your friends, go over it, and discuss your expectations. Ask them directly what their expectations are to find out whether you’re on the same page, and if not, talk further until you reach a meeting of the minds and can adjust your plans accordingly.

4. Never assume your friends will cover costs on a group road trip

Financial disagreements can irreparably damage friendships. Ensure you’re on the same page about the trip and the various scenarios you may encounter. It would be best to have direct conversations beforehand about who’ll pay which expenses.

And as unforeseen costs arise, you’ll need to ask how you’re dividing them. No matter how much money another friend may make, assuming they’ll pay for everything can easily create resentment. Thinking they won’t pay because they make less money can also be a source of contention. Ask the question immediately, and don’t let it linger.

Letting things fester might not blow up in your face. But not addressing cost-sharing before your group road trip can lead to friction that can damage your relationships.

5. Never spend all your time on the phone on a group road trip

Resentment could ensue if you spend all your time on the phone. The goal of a group road trip is to spend time with others in an unknown destination, try new things, and enjoy the adventure together.

It can be hard to break out of our phone-browsing routine, especially if you’re a workaholic. But if you’re sitting in a corner while everyone else is playing a game, telling tales, or otherwise engaging, you’ll likely put a damper on your group road trip.

After all, you’re prioritizing your phone over your friends while they’re spending their time and money to be with you. Put yourself in their shoes, and you’d probably be a bit upset with yourself too.


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