Travelling with a group of friends or family can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. Sharing the thrills, the adventure, and making memories with those you love is priceless. While group travel can create and strengthen ties that last a lifetime, it can also just as easily break those bonds without proper consideration.
Travelling in a group comes with plenty of challenges and the thought of not only planning but actually executing a trip with a bunch of people can seem terrifying. Luckily, guest blogger Aleesha Bishop has plenty of firsthand experience in group travel and shared her five step survival guide with us.
Step One: Stop, Collaborate & Listen
Who knew Vanilla Ice would convey so much wisdom on the travel front? In the very early stages, when your holiday is but a dream, it’s very easy for everyone to get overwhelmed and over-excited by the endless possibilities. At this time, you should stop, take a big breath, and get down to organisation.
Everyone will have plenty of ideas from somewhere they’ve been, something they saw on TV or read online, something their aunt’s best friend’s work colleague said… Collaboration is key. I suggest everyone write a small list of their preferences for accommodation, sightseeing or transportation, and coming together as a group to vote and create a master list of ideas.
Finally, you must listen to your companions' questions, thoughts or concerns and discuss them accordingly. Communication right from the get-go is paramount!
Step Two: Choose The Gatekeeper
Depending on how many people are travelling and how long you are going for, the list of expenses can positively skyrocket. To manage this, I recommend assigning a ‘Gatekeeper’. The Gatekeeper will be a person who is organised, patient and reliable. They will be the single pipeline for managing bookings and payments for things like car rental, accommodation or tours.
I also suggest the use of a simple spreadsheet to record this data. The Gatekeeper will monitor what has been booked, what has been paid for, and by whom (and, most importantly, who still owes you money). Although this role is an important responsibility, the Gatekeeper should not gain ultimate control of decision making.
Step Three: Respect Personal Space
I know, I know – you LOVE your best friends, there is NOTHING they could ever do to frustrate you, and you will do EVERYTHING together ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. If you can honestly say that after you've lived in each others' pockets for a few weeks, you're very much the exception to the rule.
My advice is to escape the group – just once a week is fine on a long trip – and take some time for yourself. Depending on where you are, you might like to spend a couple of hours shopping alone, reading a good book by the pool, or even catching a sports game at a local bar.
You’ll feel better after regaining your patience when nerves might have started to fray. When you do catch up with your friends again, it’s exciting to chat about your day, share some stories and just feel genuinely pleased to see them after some time apart.
Step Four: Keep in Touch
Step Three introduces Step Four, which is one of the most important parts of making this whole operation work: Keeping in touch! Whether it’s a mobile phone, an iPad or even an old-school walkie talkie, you must have a way to communicate with each other at all times.
First and foremost, it’s a safety requirement. If you’re going to spend time alone, you should have the means to contact your friends in an emergency. Secondly, it helps with a long list of reasons including making plans, keeping plans, advising changes to your schedule, sharing dinner arrangements, and not waiting around for people to make them happen.
Like I said earlier, communication is paramount. No one wants to waste hours of their holiday pacing around the hotel waiting for their missing friend who decided to go partying and left the group in the lurch.
Step Five: Agree to Disagree
From the day you start planning to the day you get home, there will be times you simply must agree to disagree. Whether it’s which hotel to stay at or which restaurant to eat in, it will be easier and more peaceful to go your separate ways when you just can't see eye-to-eye – and that's okay!
You shouldn’t feel as if you’ve failed to successfully operate as a team, and you definitely shouldn’t feel any guilt for standing your ground if something is important to you. After all, it's your trip too. Although you should try to exist in unison most of the time, it's perfectly fine to occasionally have different plans.
Finding a balance between the group being happy and each individual being happy is extremely important, but requires flexibility from everyone and some lateral thinking.
If you pair these guidelines with respect, thoughtfulness and a good old-fashioned ready-for-anything sense of humour, travelling in a group of any size will be a breeze!
About Aleesha Bishop
As a blogger with an unwavering and all-consuming passion for travel, Aleesha finds her solace by travelling all over the globe to destinations including Cambodia, Japan, China, USA, Mexico and England (just to name a few!). Aleesha is a self-confessed wanderlust junkie whose craft is painting a vivid picture of the world using only her words.