It sounds like a great idea at first: starting a group chat with your closest friends with “Let’s all go somewhere this summer!” But ‘friendcations,’ as they’re usually called can sometimes do more harm than good. In order to avoid any strained relationships, make sure to consider this advice before you start packing.
SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS BEFOREHAND
Once you decide on a destination, figure out “What does everyone want out of this trip?” It’s important to have a general idea of what each person expects. One friend may want to explore everything a new place has to offer, one may want to stay out late partying and another may simply want to sit back and relax. Make sure you’re all expecting something similar.
These expectations include money. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s a good idea to be upfront about expenses so that everyone is on the same page. Some may have more cash to spare than others and that’s okay. Just don’t be upset if someone opts out of a particular activity because they don’t have the funds for it. Discuss your standards of accommodation, transportation, sightseeing and spending before it even becomes an issue.
Tell everyone how you feel; nothing’s worse than realizing an argument could have been prevented if only you’d communicated properly. You have to be honest with each other. If your friend is doing something that bothers you, calmly let them know and offer up a solution. If you get into an argument or disagree about something, get over it. Laugh it off and remember: you’re on vacation!
SCHEDULE SOME FREE TIME
Although this trip is all about experiencing something new together, it’s important to set aside some time apart. Especially if it’s a small group. Too much time together and you can start to get on each other’s nerves. Even if it’s just an hour back at the hotel before dinner, spread out and savor some alone time. If you do plan to split up, set up a designated time and place to get back together, or make sure you’re available by phone or WhatsApp in case you need to get in touch.
As the saying goes, “compromise is the key to a successful relationship.” This doesn’t stop at friendships and is especially important when traveling. If everyone wants to do different activities, you’ll have to agree on common ground. You can designate each person a specific time slot for their preferred activity and make sure you rotate who gets to make the decisions so not one single person is choosing every time.
HAVE FUNThe most important advice of them all. It’s easy to forget when you haven’t eaten or slept and have been traveling for hours that you’re on holiday with your favorite people! Take it all in and don’t forget to take lots of pictures!!
Who doesn't have a smartphone these days? Seriously? Everyone, including my 86 year old Pap has one. Some days I want to throw my iPhone out the window, but most days I think it's the greatest thing in the world. I mean if you touch it in a few different places, you can have a large pizza show up at your door!
I think I appreciate my phone the most when I'm travelling (as long as my battery stays alive). It's like having an entire travel agency, communications department and panel of experts in your pocket.
Between the Apple App Store's 1.5 million apps Google Play App Store's 1.6 million, there are over 3 million apps, a fair chunk are travel related. Soooo - long story short - here are the apps that you NEED to download before your next big trip.
If you’re traveling out of the country, but still want to keep your finances in check, keep up-to-date with XE Currency. Quickly convert every world currency using XE Currency’s live rates. Pin your base currency at the top and monitor up to 10 other currencies at a time. It even stores the last updated rates so it works when the internet doesn’t.
If you’re driving around a foreign city and suddenly run out of gas, AroundMe definitely comes in handy. This app uses your current location to show you where the nearest services are around you which includes Banks, Bars, Gas Stations, Hospitals, Movie Theaters, Restaurants, and more. Choose from a complete list of all the businesses in those categories along with the distance from your current location.
If you have no idea where to eat and would like to see the menu and read honest reviews before you make a decision, you should download Yelp. Discover great local businesses filtered by location, distance, rating and price. Read millions of reviews written by people who have had first-hand experience. With over 70 million reviews on businesses worldwide, you are bound to find some good information in any city you are travelling to or even find new and delicious food spots right in your hometown.
If you want to share your travel photos with a like-minded community, Trover is the perfect mix between Instagram and Trip Advisor. Discover geo-tagged photos from around the world with tips and recommendations from real travelers. Trover contains hundreds of thousands of photos that represent experiences. Browse cool stuff near your current location or even log your own discoveries, share your photos and connect with other travelers wherever you go.
If you have trouble keeping track of all your different reservations and always have to go sifting through emails to find a confirmation number, TripIt will make your life a lot easier. Be your own travel agent and plan every detail of your trip—from car rental to lodging to restaurants—with TripIt. This app is great for storing all of you travel information in one place. Forward your flight, hotel and car confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and watch TripIt construct the itinerary for you.
If you are in need of a ride somewhere, the latest transport service taking over the world right now is Uber. Using the app, you can have a private driver picking you up in a matter of minutes. Check driver’s ratings and find one that is near you. Rates are generally cheaper than a standard taxi and you’ll meet and interesting person or two as well.
If you’re visiting a new city and can’t afford to take an Uber everywhere, let Moovit help you navigate public transportation. It has the most comprehensive collection of public transportation to help you get around over 750 cities in the world. Live updates, “get off” notifications, maps, stop information, schedules and service alerts are just some of the great features to help you navigate unknown cities.
If packing for a trip always ends with bringing along unnecessary items taking up space and making your suitcase heavier, try using PackPoint. Never forget to pack something either with this super intelligent packing app. Build your own packing list or add to one of PackPoint’s extensive database of destinations, weather, and length of stay specific packing lists.
If you never remember which loyalty programs you are a part of and don’t want to rewards to go to waste, add them all to AwardWallet. Easily keep track of your loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer miles, hotel reward programs and credit card points. Once you sync up each service it gives you quick access to points balances all in one convenient place.
CITY MAPS 2GO
If you are visiting a new city that you know nothing about, download City Maps 2Go. Discover and save things to see and do in destinations all over the world and download detailed maps for use offline.
If you are traveling overseas and the only way you can use your phone is via Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi Finder is something you need. As a modern traveler, you can feel stranded and helpless without Internet access. Search with a directory or simply enable the scanner to find the nearest free hotspots. Even use it offline, saving you tons of roaming charges and internet fees.
If you’re in need of a hotel room immediately or even in a few weeks, download the HotelPlanner app. Get real-time rates and availability from thousands of hotels worldwide. You can make hotel reservations and check in while you are on the road or plan a future hotel booking from anywhere in the palm of your hand. Find hotels by city, near your current location or find “Deals For Tonight” and take the stress away from having to book any last minute accommodations.
With a travel app for each part of your journey, you’ll never be alone with your Smartphone in hand. Just don’t forget the charger.
The picture above is overlooking the medieval town of Brisighella, one of the most beautiful small towns in Italy, nestled in the hills between Florence and Ravenna. Since it is such a small city, I'm talking 70 square miles with a population of 7,000, there isn't much to do as far as activities go. Unless, of course, you consider taking in the scenery as an activity (a favorite one of mine). The only thing I can recommend here is stopping for an hour or two if you're passing by and climbing up to the Rocca (castle) or the Torre dell'Orologio (clock tower). From here, you can sit for hours and look out over the vast rolling hills of green vineyards and brick edifices. Some of my favorite views so far in Italy.
The amount of religious history of this city can only be compared to that of Rome. Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, is the world capital of pace. It's history dates back as far as 1000 BC when it was settled by Umbrian immigrants. In 450 BC these settlements were gradually taken over by the Etruscans. Then the Romans took control of central Italy by the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC. In 238 AD Assisi was converted to Christianity by bishop Rufino. Since then, Assisi has gone through wars, periods of decline, renaissance and periods of peace. Too much history for me to even begin to explain. Today, Assisi is considered a site of pilgrimage, linked in legend with St. Francis. The gentle saint founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy. The Basilica of San Francesco comprises of an Upper Church (pictured above) and a Lower Church (pictured below). One on top of the hill and one at the bottom and a crypt that contains the remains of Saint Francis. The interior of the churches include works by Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and Pietro Cavallini. The collection of masterpieces gives the basilica an importance in demonstrating the development of Italian art.