It usually starts the same, one friend really wants to go to [insert random country or city here] then another friend says wow me too! Then that friend’s college roommate has an uncle who once lived there and they know all the great places to go and so on and so forth until you have a group of 10 people trying to plan a trip to a country or city none of them have ever been to. Now, excuse my dramatics but you all get the gist. Group travel can start with great intentions but then turn out to be a dreaded nightmare when it comes planning. There’s always one person who wants every detail planned so they can budget, pack, and plan accordingly while another person wants to just relax and see where the trip takes them (I am person A. The more details we know from the beginning the better!).
I personally have learned the good and hard way about some do’s and don’ts of group travel:
- DO come to an agreement on budget: The worst feeling is when everyone wants to go somewhere but people are throwing out suggestions that others cannot afford. Meet as a group and discuss all aspects of the trip (travel to location, lodging, food, excursions) and decide on a budget in total and by line item. There might be people who are willing to spend more on a hotel but don’t want excursions, make sure that is clear to everyone. Make sure you are honest with the group of what you can really afford. I’ve been in a place where I am paying people back months after because my eyes were bigger than my wallet. Budget accordingly.
- DON’T pressure anyone to attend: Many travel companies can get you more deals or can split the costs different ways if more people attend. However, it is never good to pressure someone into saying yes because what happens if they don’t pay you or pull out last minute? Only depend on the people who are seem 100% into going and/or are able to pay the deposit.
- DO make general plans for the time away: Everyone should be on one accord to what days you are traveling (even if they don’t leave on those dates, they should know what the dates are), where you are staying, and what everyone is interested in doing. There are some people who are fine doing their own thing the entire trip, but it should be understood where they will be. Financially, excursions work out better in groups so the more people interested in going hiking, for example, the better the experience.
- Note: I am a planner. I enjoy planning every day and thinking of the exact times. That doesn’t work for everyone but I like to think that it doesn’t hurt either. If things change a little, I am not stuck on that list. If you are a planner as well, be willing to do the work but don’t have hurt feelings if things change. Be flexible.
- DON’T let anyone leave the hotel or place of lodging alone. I firmly believe that everyone should be able to enjoy their vacation how they want to. However, I also recognize that tourists are often the main targets of crime. My best suggestion is find at least a friend who is interested in doing something with you or be willing to be that friend for someone else. I think it is okay to stay in the hotel alone, go to the spa, pool, etc. But catching a taxi/uber, doing an excursion, or other things where friends might not be able to reach you can be dangerous. If you have the ability to go with a friend, please do! If there is no one willing to go and there is no way that you or your travel mate is willing to go home without doing this, set a plan. Make sure the group knows the exact times that person will be leaving and approximately coming back. Have the ability to stay in contact. Know exactly what the group will be doing after.
- DO make sure everyone has a good time. No one will want to travel with you again if they feel like they were doing what you wanted. Listen to everyone and share the spotlight. Once you’re on the trip, it doesn’t matter who organized the trip, whose idea it was, or who paid the most. The point is to make this a trip to remember for everyone.
I love to travel and I love people (ENFJ problems), so group travel is always exciting for me. However, sometimes I learn as I go. I have made many mistakes and learned from them. My favorite group travel is with my cousins and least favorite is with very large groups and more strangers than people I know. This is mostly because communication is key to good group travel so make sure everyone is meeting everyone and in constant contact before, during, and hopefully after!