Travelling as part of a big group isn’t my usual travel style, so I was a little nervous before I left on a recent trip to Spain’s Costa del Sol with 10 other ladies for my cousin’s hen party. I’m something of an introvert (read anti-social) and really enjoy my own space, especially when I’m travelling, so I worried that I’d find it tough travelling in a big group.
Well, I survived, and I had a great time in the process, so I’ve prepared a little mini guide on how you can survive group travel…
Don’t be afraid to do your own thing
Just because everyone else in your group is going to visit X or Y doesn’t mean you have to join them. Don’t be afraid to say ‘hey guys, I’m going to sit this one out‘, and go off and do your own thing. Most of the time people would rather have you do something you’d actually enjoy, rather than just staying with the group doing and seeing things you might not be interested in. Don’t be scared to break from the group and go visit that UNESCO Heritage Site you’ve been dying to see or that boat trip you’ve wanted to take ever since you read about it, or anything else you really want to do. You shouldn’t miss out on things you really want to do just because nobody wants to go with you.
I know this is kind of contradicting my above point, but you have to realise that when you’re travelling as part of a big group things aren’t always going to go your own way. People won’t want to go to that restaurant, this bar or that attraction and you have to be OK with that. Part of the beauty of travelling with other people is getting to go to places they’ve picked out, that you wouldn’t normally have gone to. Those can often end up being the best experiences!
Spend some time alone
If you’re a little anti-social like me then you’ll understand the importance of having some alone time, especially when travelling in a big group. For me, spending a little alone time each day means the difference between sanity and madness! Take a walk alone for half an hour, get lost in the streets, dip your toes in the sea or just sit with a good book and a great view – just take some time to do something you really enjoy. Being alone can be liberating and often makes returning to a group situation all the better.
Break into Smaller Groups
Just because there’s lots of people travelling together doesn’t mean smaller groups can’t break off and do their own thing. 3 people want to go to the museum, 5 want to go to the beach and the rest want to go shopping? Great, go for it. Just because you travel together doesn’t mean you all have to live in each others pockets.
If everyone has arranged to meet at a certain time then you can rest assured there will always be people who are late. This annoys me as I’m a stickler for being on time, but when travelling as part of a group I had to get used to people being late. Try not to let it bother you, and whatever you do, don’t be that one person who is late for everything!
Play to your strengths…
…and let others use theirs. If you know you have a great sense of direction, don’t be afraid to take charge and lead people to where you’re supposed to be going. Similarly, you should let the others in your group do the same. If someone has fantastic organisational skills let them use their skills to plan things for your group. If everyone uses their individual strengths to help the group things will be easier for everyone.
As well as mixing with and getting to know everyone in your travel group I recommend talking to other people as well, whether they be locals or other travellers. Making friends with new people widens your social circle and can mean you learn about new places and experiences you weren’t previously aware of.
This is my biggest and most important piece of advice. Smile, laugh and have as much fun as possible. If you go into a group travel experience with a positive attitude and an open mind you’ll most likely have a brilliant time.
Do you have any tips on how to survive group travel? I’d love to hear them!