In the past eight months, I’ve gone on two vacations in Europe with coworkers from two different jobs. The first trip was to France with a coworker I call a close friend and the second was to the UK with two coworkers whom I had met only recently at a new job. Despite the different circumstances, I wouldn’t take back either trip.
Going on vacation with your coworkers might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider using your valuable vacation days. But why shouldn’t it be? If the circumstances are aligned, why not give vacation with your coworkers a try?
If you want to travel, don’t want to go alone, and don’t have friends willing to go to the same location at the same time, going on vacation with your coworkers might be a great alternative. Here’s why:
You already spend most of your time at work. Why not switch up the surroundings?
You spend 40+ hours a week at work with your coworkers. If you’ve bonded in any way, why not take a vacation together?
My trip last year to France started after my coworker and I bonded over our mutual love of France, pastries, and speaking French. We talked for a couple of months about wanting to see different regions of the country and decided one day to just book a trip. 10 days of eating our way through France later and we are closer than ever!
My most recent trip to Europe this spring happened as a result of three of us figuring out we all shared April birthdays. Two of them were already planning on going somewhere and they kindly invited their new colleague (me!) along for 10 days in England, Ireland, and Scotland. Turns out, three female coworkers can travel together and still get along after the trip!
Nothing says teamwork like navigating a foreign country together
If you want to grow closer and work together, nothing says teamwork like figuring out how to navigate (geographically and otherwise) a new place together. Traveling will require you to work together in ways you haven’t worked together before.
Whether you will share duties or dole out roles based on each other’s strengths, traveling with your coworkers means working together, problem-solving together, and bonding over mutual struggles and triumphs.
You bond about things outside of work
Going on vacation with your coworkers is different than going on a work trip with them. On a work trip, everything is planned, scheduled, and coordinated — and everything is work related. Going on vacation with your coworkers is informal, fun, and a chance to get to know each other when you’re not constantly in meetings or rushing through lunch breaks.
When traveling with my coworkers outside the confines of the work week, we talked about things we wouldn’t have brought up in office settings – friends, family, struggles, life updates, food, favorite movies, and TV shows, anything really. And instead of worrying about work the entire time, we had fun.
You [hopefully] come back closer than before
Learning more about my coworkers without the pressures of work gave me a new insight into their personalities I never would have gotten otherwise. I learned what their stressors are, what makes them laugh, and what makes them tick.
This newfound knowledge and teamwork brought me closer to my coworkers than ever before. I’m glad to call them friends and not just work proximity acquaintances (colleagues).
You learn more about yourself
Travel always teaches you a lesson. Whether it’s something small like a new food you loved or hated or something larger like a profound new love for a different country or an epiphany about your life, you will learn something.
On trips with your coworkers, you will learn more about how you like to travel, and how you travel with others.
Tips for going on vacation with your coworkers
The rules for going on vacation with coworkers are similar to the rules for going on vacation with friends. Some are [hopefully] obvious and all are necessary to keep in mind.
Go with coworkers you actually like
This post isn’t meant to encourage you to go on vacation with coworkers you don’t get along with just to go on vacation. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
If you’ve bonded with a few coworkers, think about how you would get along in a new, non-work-related location. If you think it’d be fun? Go for it! If not, maybe consider finding another travel buddy. If you’re unsure, test out whether you’d be good travel companions and go on a day trip together — it’s a small commitment and if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be glad you didn’t commit to a longer trip.
Set boundaries and expectations
I’m highly introverted and get tired after a day of exploring and being around people. That usually leaves evenings for quieter alone time for me. Some people are early risers. Others need a long time to get ready. Others like to sleep in. Or get hangry.
It doesn’t matter what they are. If you have any particularities, be upfront about them so you and your travel buddies are prepared and can plan accordingly.
Other important questions to ask:
- Will one or more of you need to share a bed at some point?
- What accommodations will you book? Hostels, Airbnbs, hotels, or a mix?
- How will you pay for everything? Will you pay for things together, or alternate between who pays for what? How will you keep track of expenses and who owes what?
- What’s the general budget?
- Who takes the longest to get ready? Who sleeps in? Who is an early riser?
- If you’re going to more than one location, what time do you prefer to travel? Early mornings, midday, evening?
- Will the trip be more structured or freeform?
- Will someone be in charge of an itinerary? Or navigation?
- Will you always be together? Or will you split up at times?
Prepare for conflict
Travel is full of stressors: flights, trains, currencies, food, navigation, and things to do and see. Naturally, these things bring up tension during any trip. Acknowledge that they will happen and don’t take it as a bad omen when tense moments occur. It’s just part of travel. Take a few deep breaths. It will pass.
If things do become tense, take some time apart, whether just a few minutes of quiet time or a few hours of different activities. And don’t take it personally. Travel makes people stressed and if nothing else, it will show you how your coworkers handle stressful situations!
Part of traveling with other people is compromising. Not everyone likes to do the same thing at all times. I gravitate towards churches and walking. Others gravitate towards food. Still others, bars. Find out what your coworkers are interested in seeing and doing and work out how to compromise on everything.
Maybe your different tastes mean you separate at times so you can all do what you want. Maybe you alternate between activities, making sure everyone gets to do what they want. Maybe you make it up as you go along. Whatever your plan, be open-minded and get excited about your vacation!
Have you ever gone on vacation with your coworkers? Would you do it?
Ultimately, I think under the right circumstances going on vacation with your coworkers is a great idea. I don’t regret either of my trips with my coworkers and I feel that, had we not gone on these trips, I wouldn’t be as close to them as I am now. So next time you’re looking for a travel buddy, take a look around your office and see if anyone would be a good fit.