How to Survive Group Travel

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.

Survive Group Travel, Edinburgh Scotland

Deep in thought during some alone time in Edinburgh…

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.

Compromise

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!

Survive Group Travel, Benalmadena, Spain

A gorgeous view on one of my solo walks

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.

Survive Group Travel, Athens, Greece

Blissfully alone in Athens

Be flexible

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.

Survive Group Travel, The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Travelling The Great Ocean Road alone

Be sociable

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.

Have FUN!

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! 

15 Responses to How to Survive Group Travel

  1. Kay

    Can totally relate to this because I’m an only child, I have antisocial tendencies, love my own space and have zero tolerance for people who take AGES to get ready or move from A to B.

    If I do have to travel in a big group again in future (excluding when I’m guiding) I will honestly try to follow your advice but not without moaning and stomping my feet a few times :-)

    • Emma Gray

      I didn’t say I would do any of that without stomping my feet & moaning a little bit ;)

  2. Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)

    If one or two people were chronically late and held up the group repeatedly, I would encourage the group to leave their sorry
    a–es, after a due warning that that is how the group would deal with their next lateness transgression. That may or may not work, but at least it would keep me from being arrested for assault. (Is this too mean?)

    • Emma Gray

      That’s how I’d deal with it in an ideal situation. I definitely think it’s not too mean. Harsh, but fair!

  3. Brittany

    Great advice. I always struggle when traveling in a group and have a tendency to wonder off on my own. Hopefully your tips will help me become less anti-social on my future group trips :-)

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks, Brittany. Hope my tips will make it a tad easier in future :)

  4. Emily

    Great post, Emma! I can relate to the desire to do your own thing while traveling. While I tend to be an extrovert and enjoy talking to new people, there are times when I have a different preference for what to eat or see. I had a recent experience where I tried to assert myself and eat somewhere different than the group wanted. Some people didn’t take it very well. I think it’s important to be upfront with the people with whom you are traveling before you go. That way there are not hurt feelings or misunderstandings if some people opt to venture out on their own for a time.

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks, Emily. I think you’re right about being upfront with people before you leave, great tip!

  5. Pointsanddtravel

    Great article about something we all have to deal with eventually, the group. I tend to be an introvert as well and often need my own space. I also tend to wander off on my own taking photographs, yet try to hurry up and stay with the group. Thanks for your tips!

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks for reading, Cindy. Glad you liked it :)

  6. Piotr

    I don’t like group because I don’t like compromise. You always have to wait for the slowest one, stop because one is too lazy to go further. I prefer to go by my own.

    I am not anti-social, I enjoy discussions but I don’t like to have to spend time with people who don’t have the same way of travelling.

  7. Shanna Schultz

    I planned a family trip for 7 of us to England and I learned a lot about the mechanics of traveling in a group. I didn’t plan adequately for the fact that not everyone had the same walking ability and this made things difficult and awkward (and I didn’t get to see some of the things that I had wanted to see in London.)

    By the time we got to Paris, we had decided to split up into two groups, and sent the person who was holding the group up on one of those hop on, hop off buses, while we took a walking tour. Everybody got what they wanted out of Paris, and I learned a lesson!

  8. Krista

    Great tips! I’m a frequent solo traveler (AND introvert) and I’ve learned a lot of these things over time – sometimes the hard way. The introvert in me says: “It’s your trip, too, make sure you enjoy it,” and the traveler in me says, “It’s also your responsibility to contribute to everyone’s fun.” Not always an easy balance, to be sure!

    • Emma Gray

      Thanks for commenting, Krista. It’s definitely not as easy balance. I think everyone struggles with it at some point!

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