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We’re Baaaaack

If friends are the family you choose, and every family has their own brand of crazy, then friends are the crazy you choose. Right? I think that is a fair assessment. And when people say that you learn so much about yourself when you travel that’s true too. You also learn a lot about your friends. And how your chosen crazy transcends time zones, personal space, stress, excitement, and experiences of a lifetime. Having just returned from a group trip to Doha, I am sharing three major things I learned from takeoff to land, around the world and back again to help you and your crew have a crazy good time on your next adventure together!

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Mandatory tourist photo.

Where Are We Going, And When?

Answering these questions was actually one of the most difficult and stressful parts of the trip – which in the grand scheme of things was good because it happened months before we ever stepped on to a plane. Holiday travel had always been our plan. Originally Christmas dates were being thrown around, but once we found out lots of people in Doha return home for Christmas, we pushed the dates up to Thanksgiving to ensure a richer experience. So that part was pretty easy. Doha was always the final destination because we were going to visit friends who relocated there for work, so that was another simple decision. But, there is a lot of world between Chicago and Doha and a lot of other places got thrown out as well (Morocco, Greece, Dubai, Egypt, Bahrain) with the idea of making all the travel hours worth our while. Endless possibilities = endless stress.

My advice: For me, there is nothing worse than seeing a cheap fare and paying a more expensive one later due to poor planning/communication. If you have that one friend like we did who’s decision making is like the map of a nomad, do yourself a huge favor, put a stake in the ground and make the booking date the booking date. That way you save on time, stress, and hopefully money, and they get the important information they need about flights and times for when they do book. Fun should not be stressful!

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Doha bound!

Friends Are Not Perfect

 This is a sentiment my mom has shared with me for years and it is so true! We as friends are not perfect, but that is what makes friendships so important and special, that despite whatever our flaws are, we still choose each other. Try to remember theses warm fuzzy feelings when you are on your trip and the crazy travel emotions start creeping in. They will start to creep in. Case and point: on our trip one of our friends got sick. Being the strong, silent type, he didn’t communicate the intensity of his sickness that well. So when we were all getting ready to go out one night, I asked if he was coming and he told me to F*** off… it didn’t go over well. Once we were back in the United States and I was alone, I wished we both acted differently. I wish he had let us in a little more so we all could have rallied around him, and I wish I had given my friend the benefit of the doubt that since he never speaks to me like that, maybe there was more to it.

My advice: Communicate! Friends are not perfect and they are definitely not mind readers. If there is something you really want to see or do, or something you need: designated personal space, a nap, some quiet time, own it and speak up. Don’t underestimate those little things you need, they become pretty important on a group trip.

 

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Photo op at the Inland Sea with Saudi Arabia behind us.

 

Celebrate Success!

It is amazing to experience the personal growth that traveling brings. What’s even more amazing is getting to experience your own personal growth as well as a friend’s right before your eyes! Your worlds are bigger in your traveling moment because of each other, so celebrate it! Example: on our trip we booked a boat for a nighttime cruise on the Persian Gulf to take in the Doha skyline. Somewhere over the course of the 4.5 hour ride (and probably more than one drink in) a couple of the guys decided to go skinny-dipping by jumping off the 2nd story of our boat. Honestly, they are adventure seekers, so that kind of thing is routine for them. BUT, when my bestie decided to join them, I was ecstatic! To witness her spirit of adventure and confidence grow exponentially on this trip because of the activities we all completed as a group, from sand dune bashing to camel riding, to skinny-dipping in the Persian Gulf, it sums up perfectly the whole reason to travel with friends.

My advice: Breathe it all in, love it all out. Hopefully on your trip you are able to try new things. Keep in mind that there are all different sized spirits of adventure and just try to keep the encouragement and the positive vibes flowing. Not only was I able to expand my own comfort zone, because of the group, but also I was able to do it with lifelong friends. Which I believe creates the trip of a lifetime.

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Survived sand dune bashing…omg!
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The kindest shopkeeper at a store in the souq.
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Skinny-dipping with the Doha skyline!

Hindsight is 20/20; did you have any big takeaways from a trip travelling with friends? Share in the comments below!

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