We mentioned in an earlier post that we travelled either solo or as a family or with friends. Travelling solo was mostly for business, but otherwise, our preference is family or group travel. We share below the benefits we derive and the how to’s of family travel we employ to enjoy it.
We do realize that there are a lot of people who prefer to travel on their own. And there are also several benefits to opting for such type of travel and maybe preferable for specific situations.
Solo Travel Has Its Attractions
There are various reasons why some people are fond of travelling in a group while others are solo travellers. Regardless, the common factor for everyone is that they are all passionate about journeying.
- Solo travellers can enjoy plenty of opportunities for unique experiences
- The possibility of meeting different types of people (instead of limited to your group)
- Flexibility in managing your travel budget will be much, much easier
- You can spend your time the way you want and be flexible in your schedule
- You can be freer in your choices and bereft of responsibilities for other people
Regardless, the common factor for everyone is that they are all passionate about journeying.
Advantages of Family or Group Travel
We may be biased as our personal preference has always been for family or group travel. While going solo may have its merits, family or group travel offers a lot of advantages that you would not get from going solo.
- You will likely be more focused to drive for best choices (given time/cost constraints)
- You will have a lot of help in planning and preparing for your travel
- You will have the benefit of safety in numbers
- You will have to spend less and manage your budget well
- You will have another person to share your experiences with
The How To’s of Family Travel or in a Group
Before the travel bug bit us, we were so comfortable in our comfort zone and enjoyed being together with the family at home. The reality that when you travel as a family/group, the total travel budget would, of course, be higher, further stimulated this. However, we realized that there is no price for the joy and the experience.
We discuss below some “how to’s” of family travel that we have learned and leveraged along the way
Plan Well Your Itineraries and Activities
A solo traveller can select any destination and tweak the itinerary midway or loiter around. You will not have that much liberty when travelling as a family or in a group.
The trick, therefore, is to plan well (providing for a buffer for potential changes) so that you, as a family/group can have adequate time to explore and enjoy your vacation to the fullest. It is particularly important. If you do not plan well or plan to rigidly, there can be unforeseen hiccups along the way that can ruin your overall experience and your budget.
Do your research and necessary due diligence. You may be surprised that there could be many things to do or see in your destination city for free. There are so many online resources available that you can leverage. And you can learn a lot from the reviews and comments that people leave on these online tools/resources. Two of such resources we have leveraged are:
CityPass – This provides your real value/savings if you are planning to explore any major city in the United States. They guarantee that you will have significant savings on entrance fees to attractions. If there are many of you in your travelling family/group, the savings can add up.
CityPASS offers ticket packages (generally between 30% – 50% discounted from the regular admission prices purchased individually) to groups of attractions in various metropolitan areas in North America and includes Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay, as well as Toronto.
CityPASS chooses a select group of attractions within each city or region and then, working in cooperation with the attractions and the respective destinations, sells the ticket packages directly to consumers.
GetYourGuide – This is an online marketplace and internet booking engine accessible via its website and mobile app. It allows you to book endless activities, tours and experiences across the world through a single platform, which saves you a lot of time.
Its offerings include skip-the-line tickets to most of the world’s top attractions, walking tours by excellent local experts, and niche offerings you will not find elsewhere. You may, of course, have some specific needs that may not be fully available through GetYourGuide. However, for the most part, they would have something for almost everything you may be looking for.
Consider Using a Local Tour Guide/Host
It can sometimes be a risky proposition to travel alone, particularly to a place or country you are visiting for the first time. Robbery or being cheated is always possible, and it is not possible at all times to ask for help if you are a solo traveller.
When you are in a group, you have the safety in numbers. You can get help from your co-travellers if you find yourself at risk. To further mitigate the risk, it will be worthwhile getting a local guide/host. The incremental cost will be minimal on an individual basis, yet it will provide you with the extra comfort and protection of somebody who knows the area well.
Avoid High-End Resorts and Hotels
A solo traveller can manage his/her budget easily and may have the latitude to splurge on high-end resorts and plush places to stay. It may not be that easy to achieve for a group or family, and you’ll end up saving a significant amount by not doing so.
Consider two (2) great options (e.g. Airbnb and Hostels) for your accommodations, and you can end up paying half (or maybe more) of what you would otherwise have to spend if you stay in these high-end hotels.
Airbnb has grown to be very popular. We have ourselves stayed in excelled AirBnB properties. They allow you to immerse yourselves in the local vibe of the area, realize a lot of savings, can potentially have the entire house at your disposal (if you so require) and you will have a localhost/owner who can give you the in’s and out’s of the place.
A hostel is another good option for a family/group to consider. Several booking resources will allow you to search for good hostels available at your destination.
There are excellent hostels with rooms available for families that can fit anywhere from 3-8 people, with the facilities that meet your budget. It is nothing different than a hotel, except of course, for the price
Optimize Public Transit
While some places may not have adequate public transportation, the majority of the areas around the world (particularly the more popular destinations) have fantastic public transit in the form of buses, subways, trains, taxis, Uber, etc. While having a rental vehicle may provide flexibility and comfort, the avoidable cost can be significant.
To facilitate, bring with you a phone plan with international data or perhaps portable wifi pre-loaded with a data plan. It will enable you to have the necessary communication tool (in case you get lost).
You can use Google Maps, Waze or similar apps. They can tell you the directions to your destination, will enable you to take public transport or walk and save you a ton. And if you have kids in your group, they will surely love the adventure and excitement of navigating to your destination on your own.
Always Aim To Travel Light
Pack as light as you can, maximize what you can carry through your backpack or carry-on. It can save you a lot in terms of luggage fees.
Each one (including even the little ones) should have a backpack with them. That will allow you to reduce what you need to include in your luggage as well as distribute the load.
In addition, travelling light makes your journey and travel experience a lot easier – less stress, fewer things to pack/unpack, and less burden to carry around with you as you move from one place to another or from one mode of transport to another!
Track Your Expenses Against Budget
You should set-up your budget. As you spend, track your expenses (e.g. accommodations, food, transportation, souvenir, etc.) against your budget, daily if possible.
Setting up the budget and tracking actual spend against it can be facilitated by using a travel budget app. There are several excellent and reliable apps that you can get for free.
Family or Group Travel Has A Lot of Merits
When travelling with family or friends, you will always have someone who will give you company, enjoy your good times, share your stories, laugh with, as well as, make beautiful memories. For us, that is the best part of travelling.
We hope the above helps you plan, prepare, enjoy your travel as a family or group. In addition to the online resources that you can tap to do your planning and arrangement, you may want to get a local guide to leverage his/her knowledge of the area and other inside tips that may not be available online.
We likewise encourage you to share your perspectives and comments on the points we discussed in this article.