Traveling with Friends: Always popular but on the upswing

by | December 23, 2013 | 9 comments Continue reading
 Traveling with Friends: Always popular but on the upswing

With 6 bedrooms/6.5 baths, Switchgrass, an Inspirato property at Hilton Head is perfect for travel with friends.

Traveling with friends is nothing new but because of the confluence of demographics and economics, it’s a phenomenon that appears to be gaining popularity across all age groups.

The travel industry has responded, too, with a proliferation of promotional offers—including girlfriend getaways, mancations, and villa rental properties appropriate for stays by multiple couples or multiple families—to name just a few.

Results of a survey 

A Harris Interactive survey found that, except for traveling with spouses or partners, friends are our preferred travel companions—-surprisingly, ranking higher than other blood relatives, such as children and parents.

  • About one-third (33 percent) of those surveyed, who had already taken a vacation in 2012 or were planning to take one, were doing so with friends. Even more (45 percent) said they would prefer to travel with their friends.
  • Only ten percent of the respondents said they preferred to travel solo. Another finding: Although both genders equally enjoy vacationing with friends, men were more likely to do so than women.

Commissioned by Inspirato (a private luxury vacation club with properties around the world), the survey polled more than 2500 respondents in ten major cities across America. Although, the findings don’t shed light on WHY traveling with friends is on the rise, here are five possibilities:

Why traveling with friends may be on the rise

Duh, everyone doesn’t have a wife, husband or partner

Although the survey found that spouses and partners are preferred travel companions, just over half (51 percent) of all Americans are married (a record low) and people are marrying at older ages (a median of 26.5 years for women and 28.7 for men). That leaves about half of the pool of potential travelers without spouses. Also, as people live longer, many widows and widowers are wanting to continue traveling into their 70s and 80s.

Have spouse/partner; he/she won’t travel

Sometimes a source of irritation in a marriage, many partners don’t want or aren’t able to travel. They may be fearful of flying or are just happier staying at home. Others may be tied to their jobs, or homebound for other reasons. While married people may not be entirely comfortable traveling alone, they welcome the opportunity to travel with a good friend.

That’s the way they like it

The old adage still rings true: You choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives. Many people find they prefer traveling with friends, whether the trip is to explore a new city or relax at the beach. In fact, some travelers cringe at the thought of being cooped up with family members who bring the same old baggage from childhood on a trip, and they may not really consider that a true vacation at all.

Also, many travelers have hobbies or interests that don’t overlap with those of a spouse. This is one reason for the growing popularity of gender-specific vacations, girlfriend getaways (that often highlight spas and shopping) and mancations (for golf, wrangling cattle, or playing poker).

It’s the economy, stupid

The economy has taken a toll on the purse strings of most Americans, making trips with friends even more enticing. While there are cost-savings achieved through traveling as a couple (as opposed to going it alone), traveling with a small group of friends or with one or more other couples can be even more cost-effective. For example, friends can share a villa or beach house, or arrange for shared transportation to and from and airport, with the cost divided by the number of persons on the trip.

Traveling strengthens friendships

If you have a hard time hacking it through dinner with a friend who is an incessant talker, you probably would loathe being away with her or him for a week or even a weekend. Being contained on an inside cabin on a ship might put you over the edge. But if you enjoy the company of certain friends, traveling with them can enhance the experience. No two people are alike or travel in the same way, so your friend (whether a single or a couple) is likely to introduce you to new ways of experiencing the world around you.

A press release from Inspirato summarizing the study’s findings notes, “Almost all respondents agreed that vacations are beneficial to relationships. Ninety-five percent of respondents said that vacations can create memories that last a lifetime and 91 percent said that taking a vacation is a great way to grow closer to the ones you love.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Interesting article, Irene. If my husband didn’t like to travel or if (G-d forbid) I didn’t have him, I’d definitely want to keep traveling with friends. I’d probably pick different friends depending on the type of trip. For example, I wouldn’t take a friend allergic to all pollen and exercise on a trip to enjoy the great outdoors and I might not take the hiker on a trip to a music festival. I’d also pick travel buddies who were averse to spending some time on their own—i.e. splitting up for a few hours if one person wanted to visit a cathedral and the other wanted to read in a park.

  2. Patti says:

    We have traveled with 2 other couples on 2 occasions, 1 week each time and we found it to be great fun. And I agree with Suzanne in that traveling with others, who won’t be offended if you want to go off on your own for a few others is an essential piece to the puzzle.

  3. Jan Ross says:

    I have absolutely wonderful friends but am so very lucky that my sister and my SIL are my best friends and wonderful travel companions. We take at least two trips a year together – usually to a beach somewhere as my husband is not a beach lover. It’s so nice to completely relax and not worry about keeping the other person happy; just yourself!!

  4. As someone who leads gourmet culinary excursions to Europe, I’ve seen the magic of what can happen when girlfriends travel together. At Julia Child’s former home in the South of France, for instance, I saw how a trip allowed friends now living in Connecticut and Texas to reconnect over food AND many laughs! Together they seared duck and melted chocolate for soufflés. They dined on outrageous food overlooking the Mediterranean and kept raising their wine glasses with hearty toasts. They delighted in shopping for shoes; one woman even buying 5 sexy, strappy pairs of heels! It’s all-too rare for women to push the “GREEN LIGHT” giving themselves permission for such fun. I’m glad to see your article on the fabulous benefits. Well done, Irene!!

  5. Yes, I fall into category #2 as my hubby doesn’t get much time off and I travel with friends or solo when needed. I’ve found that its worthwhile to seek friends who have similar budgets and interests. I recently travelled with a new foodie friend who didn’t mind browsing the menus at six ( or more) restaurants each evening before making a decision. Perfect with me but she said most other friends found it super annoying! Also travelled with another friend who had an unlimited budget and another who had almost no funds at all – both posed challenges.

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