Do you want to travel on a budget? Try traveling with friends or family members, or you can join a group experience organized by a tour company. More people allow you to negotiate great discount rates that you will never be able to get by yourself. Also, you have more people to split expenses, which is easier on the pocket than solo travel.
However, group trips can be stressful without careful planning, especially in the event of misaligned expectations, budgets, and disagreements about activities. People come with different personalities, incomes, opinions, and stress levels. And the more people there are, the more there is to handle.
Whether planning a family reunion, adventure with friends or considering taking advantage of available group packages, here are pro tips to help you make the most of the experiences.
Know the group your are traveling with
Whether traveling with family, friends, or strangers, sharing a travel experience is bound to bring you closer. When you look back on a trip, you hardly ever remember what went wrong. However, you will remember the person you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with or the one who captured your facial expressions in fantastic photos when you tried the local cuisines.
Traveling is an incredible experience. Traveling with friends or family allows you to talk and bond over extended planes, train, bus rides, and other activities. If you are traveling with strangers, it provides you with an opportunity to make lifelong friends. You can even get a lifelong travel buddy who shares your interests!
So knowing who you are traveling with and making the most of the people around you can turn the trip into a lifetime experience.
Align expectations ahead of time
When it comes to travel, people have different expectations. Some people like to plan every moment; others are more spontaneous and want to see where the mood takes them.
Suppose you are traveling with family or friends. In that case, it is essential to agree on the group travel itinerary and schedule and align expectations ahead of time. While not everyone will have the exact vision as yours, remember they have also invested time, money, and other resources to be on the trip just like you.
Having some flexibility or deciding to split up for a few activities is alright! When planning the itinerary, avoid cramming too many activities in one day. Instead, opt for a balanced one that considers everyone’s needs. For example, if you book an adventurous excursion like hiking or rock climbing, plan a relaxing activity the next day. A balanced itinerary will help avoid stress and keep the group organized.
You can present activities and ask members to vote on them. Voting will ensure everyone has a chance to share their idea and preferences and that the schedule represents the needs of the majority.
Before choosing a group package, ensure the planned activities align with your expectations. If not, you can talk to the travel agent to see if they can make changes to accommodate your need. If not, consider looking for another option or going for the trip and skipping some activities to do solo exploration if needed.
Plan some time for solo exploration or some ‘me’ time
One of the main challenges of group travel is the lack of personal space. Also, you will hardly ever get to choose where you go, so you go to tourist traps. Scheduling time for solo exploration will give you time to create a personal experience. You can also use this time to sit still and soak up the environment, read a book, or interact with the locals to get a cultural experience.
Taking time to reflect on your experiences, pamper yourself or explore on your own can leave you rejuvenated and ready for more group adventures.
People have different strengths, and using them to enhance your travel experience will benefit the group. For example, if someone has good research skills, use them to find budget accommodations or flights. If another is artistic and good at taking amazing photos, assign them the ‘trip photographer’ role. The group coordinator or team leader should go to the person with good organizational and communication skills.
Agree on a budget and how to split expenses
Everyone’s budget is different, and traveling with different budgets is possible as long as everyone is transparent and on the same page. Communication is vital, so ensure you get together and discuss expectations for a budget.
Settling on a budget will make it easier to choose a destination, figure out travel and hotel costs, select places to eat, and plan activities within everyone’s budget. Also, it will help you figure out how to split travel expenses. For example, one member may decide to cover accommodation costs when traveling as a family. Other members can offer to cover transportation or food, or you may choose to split all the expenses equally. The budget will let everyone know how much to put aside for the trip.
Be patient with your travel group
Traveling in a large group is no easy feat. Some activities will take longer than if you did them alone. For example, you may have to wait for someone to get ready in the morning before heading out or stick around a souvenir shop until a friend finishes browsing. Or it may take longer to walk to the destination.
There are also bound to be those annoying members who keep asking irrelevant questions or think they know too much. No matter how small or nig the group is, there is bound to be something or someone that tests your patient at least once.
So, before you embark on your trip, set realistic expectations and get a flexible mindset. If you can go with the flow during your group trip, you’ll be more likely to have a relaxing experience.
No matter how much planning takes place, something may go wrong, disrupting the plan. For example, a city-wide strike might shut down public transportation, or bad weather may cause the cancelation of some activities. While it may be frustrating, some things are beyond control, so learn to see these shortfalls as opportunities for solo exploration or schedule some ‘me’ time.
Use a travel agent
Agents have insight into most destinations and often have access to extra, agent-only benefits. Thus they offer one of the best, stress-free ways to plan for a group trip. Some agents specialize in group trips and are adept at handling multiple peoples’ needs and requirements.
Also, working with a travel agent is vital when planning a cruise or pre-packaged tour. They have invaluable personal experience with service providers and destinations. Their guidance will take the pressure off the group coordinator.
Traveling with a group: the bottom line
The goal of travel, even on a budget, is to have a good time and build great memories. So don’t sweat the small stuff. Relax, enjoy each other’s company and experience, and always pack lightly. Don’t forget to have fun!