What I Learned From Traveling with Friends in A Foreign Country

The idea of international travel has been more of a want for me than a need. I'm not really the type who will religiously check airline promo seats or piso fares everyday unless I plan on going home to my hometown. For some insane reasons, the ticket price to Gensan is usually more expensive than most local destinations, and even some Southeast Asian countries.

If you ask me, of course I want to travel outside the country! But I don't feel the need to rush or count how many countries I've been to so far. I don't want to be in constant competition with people who have traveled to X number of countries in X number of years. Quality over quantity is still my priority. 

In fact, back during my singlehood, I totally enjoyed traveling locally and never thought of going out of the country until probably, retirement? Something to that effect. When I got married and had a kid, the chances of traveling internationally seemed even more shady and somehow impossible for me.

Travel had been shoved down to the last of my priorities or goals and was rightfully replaced by diapers, milk, bills, emergency funds, and food for our sanity. My husband doesn't really like traveling so I usually travel alone or with friends and I'm fine with it. He's fine with it too.

While I was getting the hang of spending for another human being, I started learning the art of budgeting accordingly. As soon as my son turned 3 years old, there were no more diapers and expensive milk to spend on, which means a little bit more budget for travel and some other stuff.

Traveling allows me to celebrate my individuality and practice my survival skills. I am sometimes clumsy and have poor sense of direction (literally). When I first got to Cebu, I couldn't count how many times I ended up riding a cab when I found myself lost somewhere. I even got lost trying to find my own boarding house.

I realized now that it's not so much about having poor sense of direction. It's really about not paying attention to details. Now, whenever I go to an unfamiliar place, I usually take note of the landmarks and other identifying information. Also, I've started mastering the art of using GPS. Thank goodness!

My first international travel was insanely blissful. It was a trip that I planned with two of my closest friends from my previous work. We thought we're never going to make it because of our toxic schedule in the workplace but when we all resigned, we got the chance to go backpacking to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand for 10 days last year.

Even though we "planned" this trip for a year or so, we didn't really plan that much. Yes, we had a rough itinerary to follow and we knew where we're going but we vowed to DIY everything and not join tours. We also planned an estimated amount of money to bring for allowance and stuff.

For my first international trip, I somehow relied on my two friends because they've traveled abroad a couple of times before.. while it was just my first time. Traveling with friends is a fun adventure! Sometimes, you argue and disagree but hey, you're stuck with each other (lol!) so whether you like it or not, you have to do your best to stay friends.. at least for the duration of the trip. Haha.

*In a cafe in Ho Chi Minh (had to regroup because we're lost) 

Here are some things I've learned from traveling with friends...

1. There's always gonna be someone who will wake up early or late.

You all have the same itinerary. You're all going to the same places so it makes sense that you go together. But there are times when you feel like sleeping in especially when you're tired from the previous day's walkathon. So to avoid annoying your friends, create an order of who takes a bath first and so on (if you're sharing one bathroom).

Before dozing off to sleep, we all talked about who wants to use the bathroom first for the next morning. Therefore, that person would wake up first. We always had to start early - even as early as 3 AM (like for Angkor Wat sunrise).

Thus, each friend has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. For example, my two friends have great haggling skills while I suck at it. And so on...

2. When you don't have anything good to say, better shut up.

You get it. Sometimes you're too tired and exhausted and when things don't go as planned, there can be major or minor disappointments. When we were in Bangkok, we didn't really expect that all temples and tourist attractions would be closed. It was that time when Thailand's king just passed away.

Most of our plans didn't materialize so we didn't exactly know where to go. There were times when we were about to argue because we couldn't decide, haha! When things get too hot, sometimes you just have to back off and shut up to avoid adding insult to the injury.

*Wandering the streets of Bangkok

3. Learn to compromise.. and actually not feel bad about it.

I feel like I was always the one who needed to be considered during our trip. Not sure, but that's how I felt. Sorry guys, haha! For one, I decided not to go to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Bangkok anymore because it's expensive and we would just see wax people (celebrities). So I told them I'd just wait for them in Siam Paragon. But they decided not to go on with the museum too.

Also, during our trip from Cambodia to Bangkok, I told them if it's okay to choose the bus with a toilet even though it's more expensive. Because ugh, 12 hours is 12 hours man (although it really ended up to be just 8 hours.. but still, it's a long ride).

*While waiting for our ramen in Bangkok - this was after hours and hours of walking, thus the tired faces. 

PS: I'm not a brat you guys. We all have preferences, right? Haha.

4. Look after one another but also be accountable for yourself.

Although it's always a given to look after one another, you also have to take care of yourself and be accountable. When we were walking around the super busy streets of Ho Chi Minh, it was nearly impossible to cross the streets because motorbikes were all around. If my friends tried to turn their backs and check on me, they'd be hit!

Sometimes even if you travel with friends, you also have to act as if you're on your own and not totally be dependent on them.

*Always a relief to see an empty street where a vendor could still afford to nap like that and not get hit

5. When in doubt, reach out!

Cue song -- ♪♫

We're all in this together
Once we know
That we are
We're all stars
And we see that
We're all in this together
And it shows
When we stand
Hand in hand
Make our dreams come true

*Angkor whaaatt??? 

So did you sing it too? ;) Bet you did!

I know what you're thinking -- this is not just for international travel but also for any type of travel! Well, you are so right! I'm just very thankful that I traveled with my truest friends who are very considerate and fun to be with! And while it's true that the idea of international travel has been more of a want for me than a need, it has become a want I sometimes need.

I'm sure there are many lessons out there but I limited myself to five only. Drop a comment below to share what you've learned when you traveled with your friends. Thanks for reading this long post. ♥

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