Traveling with a Group
Sashaying down narrow streets in 3 in heels, bright yellow sundress with hair flowing in the breeze. Let me be clear. This isn’t me. Zigzagging from side to side in reasonable walking shoes, drenched in sunscreen and hair whipping back and forth due to gawking is a more accurate depiction.
Now, I’ve learned a lot while traveling; and a question I get asked frequently is: “is traveling with a tour group a good option?”
If you want to travel abroad for the first time, or for the hundredth time, traveling with a group is always a great opinion. You are forced to get to know new people, bunk with strangers, and experience pack mentality. All things that prepare you for life in some way.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHILE TRAVELING WITH A GROUP:
Depending on the age range you choose to travel with, you can expect two types of travel companions in a group.
1. The Leisure Lizard: Best described as slow moving. The leisure lizard is all about basking in the sun, sleeping in till noon, and likes to recline and eat grapes from the steam. This type of traveler isn’t interesting in all the “touristy stuff,” but makes a point of relaxing and finding tasty places to eat.
2. The Go-Goer: The leisure lizard’s natural enemy, The go-goer is the Energizer Bunny of travel. So much so, they drain the batteries of the people around them. Up at the literal ass crack of dawn, these travelers have hit 2 major landmarks, 1 museum, and has probably walked 10 miles before noon. You can expect them to be fast moving as they want to see and do as much as humanly possible each day. They don’t seem to need much sleep either.
Now, you may be thinking you don’t fall into either of these categories, but I can guarantee you lean one way or the another. Figure out how you prefer to travel and fall into the appropriate group as they will naturally divide. These groups break down further on their interests. You may be after the night life or maybe you are all about museums. Find your wolf pack or jump between a few.
Depending on your travel arrangements, you may have paid for your own room, but more than likely you went the cheaper route and have decided to bunk with other travelers. This can be a blessing or a nightmare. If you are luck, you can get to know someone on the first day and volunteer to room together for the duration of your stay.
On the flip side, you may experience the random card draw method, in which case, try it out. If you guys don’t click you can always talk them into switching rooms with another traveler. If that fails, you can pretend the other person is a ghost. Much like a couple three years into the relationship, when the love is dead and they stay together for the mutual benefit of a rent controlled apartment.
...Speaking of apartments, you may not always be staying in hotels. Be prepared to stay in hostels at times. In which case you get to room with everyone! Even that weird dude who has been picking at his toenails with a butter knife for hours. Joking aside, when group traveling you get to stay in pretty decent places. I wouldn’t worry too much about butter knife Benny.
WHAT TO DO AND WHEN TO DO IT:
Depending on your travel style you may love or truly hate group travel. Many people opt for group travel as everything is pre-planned for you. It’s a hassle free experience as you never have to worry about what to do or how to get there. This is a double edged sword.
On one hand, you don’t have to stress about what to do as it’s already decided for you. On the other hand, everything is decided for you... Your package may include a visit to the Louvre. However, you may not be interested in art because you worry a glimpse of the Mona Lisa will open a wormhole back to the Renaissance. A time without modern day plumbing…god help you.
Now, you don’t have to go to these pre-planned activities, but why would you pay for all these outings and not go on any? Do you take joy ripping Benjamin’s in half in front of orphans? In which case, I think you can skip the group travel and pay all your friends to go with you instead.
Depending on your tour, you’ll encounter many kinds of transportation. This ties back into the pre-planned itinerary. Places that you would like to visit may be hard and pricey to get to on your own, but with a group it’s already arrange for you. No hassle, no worry, just wine tasting in the country. The downside, younger groups may not understand the "tasting" aspect of wine tasting so be prepared to ride back on the vomicle.
If you are hitting multiple cities or countries having the transportation taken care of is a huge bonus of traveling in a group. Though, you know I can’t just leave it at that. As half of the fun of traveling is stopping wherever you want along the way. However, when jumping between countries this is the best method when on a strict timeline. Plus cat naps and staring out the window at the countryside is pretty great.
BUILT IN TOUR GUIDE:
The great thing about group tours is you literally have a built-in tour guide at your disposal. They tend to be extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and will share information you wouldn’t pick up on your own.
Be warned! Not all tour guides are created equal. Some are giant snooze monsters, but for the most part I’ve had positive experiences with them. Even if they made me go on a tour of a perfume shops that was so agonizingly boring I wanted to claw my face off…
LET'S TALK MONEY:
Now, tour groups come at a cost. Do your research before dedicating to a group package as traveling on your own and paying for transportation, housing, and outings maybe WAY cheaper in the long run. This method takes effort on your part to book, find the correct transportation, visit landmarks, etc.
If that sounds like something you are not about to do, book a group tour and meet new people. Remember, nothing is perfect while traveling, so keep an open mind and find your pack. Since no one truly wants to be a lone wolf.