Group travel has come a long way in the last ten years. What was once considered a more conservative form of travel has now evolved into a super popular holiday and adventure option for youth, families, adventurers and seniors alike.
Tour companies have seriously upped the ante on their itineraries, with options available across almost every country and continent. No longer a watered-down experience frowned upon by so-called 'seasoned travellers', tour operators offering unique travel experiences are in high demand.
Whether you're a solo traveller looking to make some new friends, are heading to a unique destination, planning your own holiday with a big group of pals or are just keen to see what all the fuss is about, here's our 101 guide for group touring.
Why Pick a Group Tour?
Now, we know that joining a group trip isn't for everyone - which is 100% okay! However, with more tour options on the market than ever before, we're almost certain that there is group experience out there for everyone.
From single-day sightseeing adventures to month-long trips traipsing between countries, it's just a matter of finding a tour group that suits your travel goals.
Advantages of Group Travel
The group tour market has exploded, meaning tour operators are constantly working hard to ensure travellers are getting the most out of their trips. Here are some of the top advantages that come with joining a group trip.
Meet New People
It's all in the name - joining a group tour means you'll be meeting a suite of fellow travellers. While we can't guarantee you'll love everyone on your trip (we are human, after all), chances are you'll bond with fellow group members and leave with plenty of memories and a few new friends to boot.
Guidance and advice from expert leaders
If you're heading to a location that is out of your comfort zone, want to dive deep into the history and culture of a destination, or are keen to know a bit more about local life, then a group tour is a fantastic option for you.
Tour companies work hard to ensure their guides and group leaders are well-versed in the history, culture and travel tips of each location you visit. Not only does this come in handy when you have specific questions about a city or location, but chances are they can point you in the direction of some of the best local meals and hidden hotspots.
All the details are sorted
At a bare minimum, all overnight tours will include accommodation in a hotel or similar (depending on the style of your trip) and your transport. From there, packages may also include flights, day trips, group meals and more.
While booking, make sure you scan the tour operator's website to confirm what is included in your trip. If you're uncertain about any details or are keen to book hotels or adventures beyond the confines of your tour, reach out to a travel agent who can get the rest sorted.
Increased security in uncertain places
If you're a solo female traveller or are heading to a location that leaves you a little uneasy, a group tour can help provide a much-needed sense of security. Not only will your tour leader have travel experience in the region, but it's highly likely that they will be able to speak the language or have local contacts to ensure you're kept safe and sound.
Beyond that, whether you're travelling on a big coach or in smaller groups, you're blessed with the advantage of safety in numbers.
We should also mention that some adventure or endurance-based holidays, like a trek to Everest Base Camp or a journey along the Kokoda trail, require a trained guide to ensure you are kept safe and reach your destination without any trouble.
Choose from a vast range of group sizes and trip types
The world is a big place with so much to see, do, taste, experience and feel. Tour operators have recognised this and now offer a vast variety of itineraries that cater to every travel desire.
Want to tickle your tastebuds with ten days of Vietnamese street food? There's a tour for that. What about a pub crawl through Europe or a luxury glamping tour spotting the Big 5 on safari in Africa? Yep, there are options for that too.
From exploring the sprawling Bazaars in Turkey to uncovering the secrets of Egypt, road-tripping through Australia and New Zealand or sailing the azure waters of Croatia, there is quite literally a tour for everything.
Can't find the tour you're after? No stress; chat with our team, and we will work our hardest to find one for you (or create a custom itinerary from scratch).
Share reactions, excitement and enriching experiences
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, it's hard to deny the power of sharing an incredible, life-changing experience with someone else. Whether it's a person you've known for years or a new bestie you met on a tour, travel is better when shared with others.
What to expect on a group tour
When prepping for your first group tour, the best point of reference is your itinerary. Check out the tour operator's website, look at the photos and read any trip-specific reviews.
Beyond the specific details of your group trip, you should expect the following:
A lunch or dinner on the first day to meet your tour leader and fellow travellers
Shared accommodation (unless you book a single supplement)
Daily schedules that outline when and where you are going
Time on coaches, trains, planes or some other form of transport
A mix of group and solo meals
The chance to add on extra activities, meals or experiences
Some early mornings and late nights as you get the most out of each destination.
Types of group tours
The list of group tours is endless, but here are a few to spark your imagination:
Craft and textile tours
Under 30's tours
Wine or Brewery trails
Seniors group travel
Wellness group travel
Different tour providers will specialise in specific travel types. For example, Intrepid Travel is known for its small group tours and adventure travel, while Contiki is popular amongst youth, and Back-Roads is preferred by seniors.
What to Research when Picking Group Tours
If you've decided against travelling solo and are ready to take the plunge on your first group tour, here are some important things to consider during your research process.
What is the intention of your trip? Do you want to explore a particular destination, learn about the culture, taste unique foods, try adventure sports, see bucket list sites, or simply go with the flow?
How many people do you want to travel with? Choose from smaller group experiences to large coach tours with 40 or more people on board. While bigger groups might not seem super appealing to everyone, the larger numbers give you access to a cheaper group rate, plus a greater chance of making newfound friends.
What type of trip do you want? Do you prefer to stay in 4-5-star hotels, or are you happy to bunk in at a local homestay? Do you want to be immersed in the local culture or spend your days ticking off bucket list spots?
What is your budget? This is a big one. The amount you're willing to pay for your travels will impact where you stay and what you do. One of the perks of pre-booked tours is that you can often pay off your trip in advance, breaking the larger expense into smaller repayments.
What kind of pace do you want to travel? Are you keen to see 20 countries in 40 days, or would you prefer to deep dive into a specific region? The more countries you're seeing, the more time you'll be spending on transport.
How much free time do you want? Are you happy to pack each day with group activities, or would you prefer some solo time where you're free to walk the streets at your own pace? Make an effort to click open each day on the itinerary to see the balance between free time and planned activities.
What is included, and what comes at an extra cost? How many meals, entry tickets and extra activities will you need to budget for?
Other important elements to consider include:
Is the guide local?
How much time are you spending in transit?
Do the people in the pictures match your demographic and vibe?
What do the reviews say?
What is the difference between competitor itineraries?
How do you prepare for a group trip?
Once your group trip is booked, you'll need to sort out other holiday essentials like flights, pre-and post-tour accommodation, travel insurance, transfers, visa and vaccinations (don't worry, our travel experts can help you with those).
From there, it's a matter of packing and counting down the days until your trip! If you're joining an adventure group trip, there may be some form of training required (ask your tour operator for more details).
Stuck on what to pack? Check the tour website for more insight on what's needed for your trip. Different destinations and experiences will require a broad range of gear, so spend some time planning what to pack to ensure you're not hauling around too much or stuck touring without the essentials.
Group Tour Tips for Every Traveller
1. Pack light. You are always on the move, so save the hassle (and your back muscles) by packing light. Don't forget a laundry or delicates bag, flip flops, travel towel, portable charger and a lock.
2. Prepare for lots of travel time. Whether it's on a bus, train, plane or ferry, you'll spend some time moving from A to B. Make sure you have some things to keep you occupied, like a book, music, games or a podcast. Oh, and a travel pillow is never a bad idea.
3. Be considerate of other group members, follow the rules and be on time. The tour leader has to worry about the whole group, so don't make it harder than it has to be.
4. Take as many pictures as you can (and make sure others are happy with you sharing their pic).
5. Look for like-minded people with similar interests. Chances are you might make some lifelong friends.
6. Give back to the community by supporting local when you shop and dine.
7. It's okay if you're not friends with everyone. If there are people you don't click with, try and find some common ground to avoid an awkward exchange or unpleasant social situation.
8. Always have some spare cash for unexpected costs, and double-check what is and is not included in your trip (FYI, entrance fees are often left out).
9. Be patient, go with the flow and say yes to new opportunities. You paid good money to have a tour leader take charge, so let them do their job.
10. Feel free to opt out of a daily activity in favour of time by yourself. Unless you’re travelling as a group and need to stick together to make the journey, you’re under no obligation to join in activities as listed on the itinerary.
11. Be firm in getting what you want out of the trip. Don't compromise on things that are important to you. Not everyone will be on the same page; if you want to see a particular museum or sight, let your tour leader know so that they can make it happen.
12. Give meaningful feedback at the end. It could help other travellers have an even better experience.
13. Share your details and keep in touch with others on the tour.
14. Prepare for the post-holiday blues. They're real and suck as you return to real life away from the adventure and new friends. Have some fun activities lined up when you get home to help soften the blow.
Planning Your Own Group Trip - Is It Worth It?
If you've been tasked with planning a group vacation - whether it be with family, friends, colleagues or a sporting group, there is a lot to think about.
Perhaps you can't find a tour that works for you, or maybe you just want to organise a group holiday to one location. Whatever the reason, there are a few key things to consider if you're opting to take charge of the planning.
How do you manage a group tour?
Managing a group vacation is not for the faint-hearted. Before you start booking anything, the best course of action to avoid any misunderstandings is to sit down with the group and chat about the budget, as well as everyone's travel expectations.
Once you decide on a timeline and have clear expectations around money, you can dive into the finer details, such as:
Accommodation - will you opt for rented houses, a hotel or something else?
Activities - what is everyone doing for fun? Are there planned adventures, or is everyone free to do what they want once they arrive?
Insurance - things happen on holidays. Make sure everyone in your party is insured.
Roles - are you taking care of everything, or are you splitting the planning tasks between the group?
At the end of the day, the best way to avoid any arguments and have an epic trip is to make communication a priority.
If all else fails, the group travel experts at Flight Centre are always here to help.