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Ambivalent about going camping with friends

Published: July 23, 2016 | By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
Camping at Grand Teton National Park (Photo credit: NPS)

Camping at Grand Teton National Park (Photo credit: NPS)

A reader questions whether to go camping with friends after the plans suddenly change.



Three of my friends and I were planning a camping/hiking trip during the summer as a kind of bonding adventure. Originally, it was going to be two nights. I have not done any real hiking and have never been camping. So two nights camping with friends seemed manageable and it required only one day off of work.

Then one of my friends said the trip was changed to three and instructed me to take a second day off from work. I explained to her that I did not feel comfortable asking for more time off and that three nights seemed overwhelming to me as a first-time camper. She completely disregarded my feelings and her only response was to ask for a decision about whether or not I wanted to come so that she could get a refund.

I tried to reach out and explain how hurt I felt by all this and received no response. I could drive up there on my own and only spend two nights so I don’t miss out on all of the bonding with the other two girls, but I feel very hurt and unsupported and I just can’t decide if it’s worth it or not.

Signed, Chris


Hi Chris,

This sounds like a fun getaway you were looking forward to until this monkey wrench was thrown your way.

Although you initially had some ambivalence, you thought through the pros and cons pretty clearly:

  • You weren’t sure about whether you would enjoy a camping/hiking adventure and felt that two nights was a good way to find out.
  • You wanted to give it a try but were worried about taking too much time off from work.

When friends plan a trip together, there usually has to one person “in-charge,” to some degree, to make final decisions. But that person usually involves others in making major decisions that affect the scheduling, length and cost of a trip.

It’s a bad sign that this “friend” not only decided to extend the length of the trip without input from you but also ignored your concerns when you voiced them. This, in essence, has created another major downside to consider.

Unless an opportunity arises for you to resolve this misunderstanding, I would personally hesitate to go on this trip. Your friend’s past behavior to you may be a forerunner of the way she would treat you while you were there. For example, if the amount of hiking per day seemed overwhelming to you as a first-timer, she might be reluctant to shorten it.

Your note didn’t mention how well you know these friends. Traveling with friends can be tricky unless everyone feels comfortable with each other. Do you feel close to this group of friends or only know them peripherally?

Camping with friends (or taking any other type of trip, for that matter) can be a wonderful bonding experience, for sure. But a getaway like this one also involves a fair investment of time, money and emotions. I would think this one through carefully before you make a final decision, given how the planning for the trip has evolved thus far.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS, Travel with Friends

Comments (8)

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  1. lua says:

    I see red flags with this woman too. The fact she refused to talk to you and understand your situation with work and considering this is your first time camping would make me reconsider spending time with people like that. Plus, you want this to be a memorable experience in a good way.

  2. Tracy says:

    you’re hesitating because you got a red flag on this woman. If she disregards you on the lead up, you can bet your life it’s all going to be about what she wants when you get there. Back out and select someone you trust to try a camping trip just 2 of you when all this is over. We teach others how to treat us (a Dr Phil-ism) but yes you do deserve respect and no it’s not wrong to expect that from any friendship.

  3. Debbie says:

    I don’t think you’re causing any drama, you had the rug pulled out from you. It was rude and inconsiderate for your friend to make the change in plans without considering how you felt about it. If anything, I might drive up for the day but that would depend…is your friend going to be as controlling with what you do there, as in plans/events? Will everyone have to do what she wants or else???

  4. Original Poster says:

    I am the person who asked this question. Thetc were my best friends who I was going with. Another friend on this trip originally didn’t even want to go camping because she had to ask for three days off work but she hates conflict and wouldn’t speak up for herself so really it was 2 vs 2. But when it came time to tell the one in charge that she would prefer two days she backed out because again, she hates conflict.

    I did offer to drive up for two days but it’s the principle of the matter. When you purposely disregard your supposed best friends feelings and then she confronts you about hurting them and also ignore that (no apology whatsoever) I’m not the one causing drama. I deserve respect and I won’t take less than that.

    • Amy says:

      “I deserve respect and I won’t take less than that.”

      With an attitude like that I’m surprised you have friends. It goes both ways. Someone needs to be the leader in every group, though I do understand your frustration.

    • PeachPie says:

      Yes, you do deserve respect and you did not receive it here. Since days off work were already arranged for and a payment made, it seems clear that the plans were solid and past the discussion stage.

      This “friend” then decided to change everything, told you to take it or don’t come, and refused to discuss it.

      I don’t think it would be much fun to go under these circumstances, and who knows what else she’d dictate. Maybe you should try to plan a different camping trip without her. Good luck.

  5. Mary says:

    I feel that Chris should decline this trip with a hearty “maybe next time.” Don’t close the door altogether. Say you couldnt get the extra day off work. If you want to drive up for the day and hang out and not spend the night, that’s an option. If you spend the night, then money enters the picture. Your friend has made it clear money is an important factor.

    Camping is a ton of fun but it’s like the saying: you don’t really know someone until you’ve lived with them. You don’t know really someone until you’ve been camping with them.

    I feel that Chris’ gut instinct is to pass and they should follow that.

    Camping takes getting used to.

    I suggest that Chris go camping with 1 other person and relax with no goal other than to have fun and enjoy the experience. If there is pressure to bond, it takes the fun out. When fun occurs, bonding happens naturally.

    I don’t feel that Chris is really at fault here. The unanticipated change rattled them; they needed time to process. Happens to me all the time.

    Another factor: is this tent camping? Rv? Popup? Renting a screened in shelter? Tent camping is far more stressful for a 1st time camper, especially anyone who likes their personal space.

    Another factor in my circle: cooking while camping. My circle has very high expectations of quality cooking. For a non-cook that can be added stress.

    Chris if you’re reading this, don’t give up on camping. It’s so much fun. Lots of things to do… hiking, fishing, playing board games, photography, just chilling out and reading, watching the sunset or sunrise. It’s worth the effort. My concern is if your first time is negative, you’ll blow it off forever, and what a sad waste that would be.

  6. Amy F says:

    It sounds to me like both you and your friends disregarded each other’s feelings. If three of the four decided 3 days, I’m not sure why you didn’t just say, “I can’t take the other day, but I can drive up on my own,” since that’s what you’re thinking about doing anyway. Maybe you felt like she was pressuring or you felt left out on the decision to extend the trip for another day. I wouldn’t create additional drama by making this situation more than it is.
    I’m a person who would prefer plans not change once they are made, so I get being thrown off kilter. I think you could have saved yourself some angst by assertively offering the alternative in the first place. You can’t change others, only your response to them.
    Ask yourself whether you’d be happier staying home or going, then proceed.

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