We are not big fans of solo travel. We prefer to travel as a couple or in small groups, mindful of course of how to travel in a group in the best and most enjoyable way possible.
What is Group Travel?
There are several ways of traveling in a group. It can be a simple walking tour exploring a particular city or town, or it can be a half or full-day excursion with your group somewhere outside of the city. Or it can be a multi-day tour, with your group moving from city-to-city or even country-to-country over several days or weeks.
Group travel can come in many forms. They can include coach tours, river cruises, ocean cruises, sailing tours, or small group tours to explore several destinations on your own. Regardless of what form or style your group travel may be, the important thing is to choose the type or style that best suits your personalities, travel objectives, vacation time available, and, last but not least, your budget.
Why do we Prefer Group Travel?
Some people are fond of traveling solo rather than in a group. And there may be good reasons for them to do so. However, many people prefer group travel. The question is: who can benefit most from group travel?
Anybody, of course, can join and benefit from a group tour. Most group travel operators offer experiences or travel style. And group travel would also be a perfect fit if you are seeking to meet new people, soak up the knowledge and local expertise of your tour guide as well as travel companions.
We may be biased as our personal preference has always been group travel, not really with big groups but more of small groups with partner, family, friends – existing or even those we meet during our small group tours. It offers a lot of advantages that you would not get from going solo.
- We see more places/attractions in less time (very convenient if we have limited vacation time)
- We can visit sites that may be otherwise difficult or time-consuming to access on our own
- We gain instant travel companions, meet new friends, and establish new relationships
- We can have more in-depth knowledge of the places our group travel members come from
- We have the benefit of safety in numbers and leverage the synergies of a group over solo travel
- We typically can spend less by sharing the costs and being “forced” to manage our budget well
What are the Best Places for a Group Travel?
There are some countries or destinations that may not be the best places to travel solo or without joining a group tour. Besides, the relationships between the country you come from and the one you intend to visit may have a bearing on whether group travel is a better option than going solo.
One example would be Cuba. While a lot of people may not have so many problems visiting the country, it might not be that easy or straightforward for American travelers. Prevailing regulations may dictate certain conditions or prerequisites for Americans to visit Cuba. As of 2019, Americans are now legally allowed to go to Cuba with an OFAC self-reporting General License if they meet the requirements for one of the 12 categories of legal travel to Cuba and can only fly into Havana.
There are also countries where traveling through a group tour operator or agency would be the best option. Of course, you can always travel solo or unassisted. However, doing otherwise can save you a lot of headaches and unnecessary stress.
Practical Tips for Group Travel
Research and Plan Well – Take the time to research key elements and requirements for your travel well in advance. The internet is rich with the information you need. Alternatively, you can talk to your preferred tour operator/agency.
Plan to Pack Light – You should target to pack as little as possible and do not leave packing to the last minute. Consider your destination, activities, the weather, among others. In most group travel, casual attire is typical. But there can be occasions when more appropriate attire would be necessary.
Choose the Right Accommodations – Each member of the group may have a travel budget or preferences and needs in terms of accommodations. So, you need to discuss and agree on the type of accommodation that will work for everyone with such things considered. You may need to have a give-and-take conversation to have a win-win arrangement.
Align on Your Intended Activities – As people have their individual preferences, chances are not everyone in your group wants to do the same thing at the same time. However, being in a group requires you to have a conversation and alignment upfront on what are the activities you will do as a group and which ones you can individually do, perhaps in agreed free time. Talk about the events ahead of time.
Work Out Your Schedules – If you are using a group tour operator, most of your schedules will be taken care of by them. However, if you are doing it on your own, then you would need to spend time working out your whole schedule. Either way, you need to make sure that your overall program includes some downtime (as some of your companions may have different limits and tolerance levels) and some alone time for things you want to do on your own.
Make Necessary Reservations – It is always advisable to make reservations in advance on things that you plan to go to, especially if they are popular. For example, some restaurants are quite popular but cannot seat larger walk-in groups comfortably. Another item you need to reserve would be your transportation arrangements (e.g., car rental) so that you have it when you need it.
Make Safety a Priority – Safety is paramount in any activity, but more so in travel. You will have to make sure that you, as a group, give the utmost priority to safety considerations. Address all safety concerns upfront. For example, travel insurance needs to be obtained by everyone. There also has to be an agreed protocol for contacting each one should an emergency arise or if somebody gets himself into trouble or unwanted situations. Also, provide contingencies that unexpected things may come up, and the group has to adjust.
Agree on Critical Logistics – Recommend that you have the necessary conversations with your group on the logistics. For example, are you flying together? Are you just meeting up at the destination airport and go from there? Or will you individually head out to your hotels? It will avoid confusion and unnecessary waiting tie.
Money Matters – Foremost, agree, and set your budget for the group. The best part about booking group travel is that you will have all your accommodation, food, transportation, and experiences paid in advance. So, you just need to set aside for those not covered, particularly those that optional that you would like to consider individually or as a group. After that, track your actual spend against the budget you have set. There are several apps available that will allow you to do this without a sweat.
Maintain Open Communication – When traveling in a group, there will be situations when an issue or disagreement may arise. That is normal. The important thing, though, is that everyone is open to having necessary discussions and maintaining an open mind and communication, particularly for aspects that you will have to do as a group. Technology is always there to continue the connection even when you may be in a different location or somehow got lost.
While some people prefer solo travel, we are big fans of traveling as a couple or in small groups. When going in a group, you will always have someone to keep you company, enjoy with you the moment, share your stories, and experience beautiful memories. Traveling in a group requires you to be mindful of the others. But everyone hopefully knows how to travel in a group in the best and most enjoyable way possible.
We hope the above helps you plan, prepare, enjoy your group travel. You can always lean on your group travel operator if you want to leverage them. But there are also a lot of online resources that you can tap to help you in your planning and bookings. Here is one that you can check out.