Solo versus group travel. That debate is ongoing and not close to be settled anytime soon. Every side has a strong case to defend their position, and counter-arguments to refute the opposing points of view.
As a group travel fan myself, I often get caught up in these disputes; they can be quite entertaining at times. As a travel blogger, I read many posts stating valuable reasons to despite group travel. However, I can’t help but point out that those reasons are somewhat outdated and no longer valid. For every argument they see as a group travel disadvantage, there is an easy fix.
Going at someone else’s pace
People argue that group travel forces one to go at someone else’s pace. That can be particularly troublesome if you and your group have divergent sleeping, dining, or even leisure habits. Night owls will hate traveling with early noisy risers just as culture buffs won’t enjoy visit a place with tourists – you know? the type that races through all the attractions of destinations they visit.
The solution is often quite simple. You can still travel with a group and enjoy yourself for little that you all take time to plan out the itinerary and the schedule. Map it down on a spreadsheet like Excel, or use a dedicated travel itinerary builder that will pinpoint top restaurants, hotels, and other such venues for you.
Not being in the loop
Group travel can be a traumatising experience for you when you travel with people who don’t keep you in the loop. Can you imagine a vacation in a place you do not want to visit or a stay at some horrible hotel without the minimal of your requirements?
Poor group decisions affects individuals and bleed pockets faster than you would think. However, with a travel planner that allows everyone to collaborate in real-time on every aspect of the trip, you will feel empowered and in control of your input and the rewards you get from the trip.
Who’s in charge?
Yes, let’s talk about being in control of the trip. Ever traveled in a group and felt like nobody was in charge or that one single person tends to impose their will to the rest of the group? The fact is that to be in the loop and in charge means having a say in group decisions. beit you vote on things as a group or assign individual responsibilities.
It is easier for everyone to have fun and enjoy the trip when they chose or agreed to the trip activities. You can take advantage of Facebook groups and Google Plus communities to have a vote system on group decisions or have individuals report on their tasks.
Communication is a pain
Social media, email, messenger app, snail mail, owl postal service… how to keep communications flowing between a large group when everyone has different, preferred ways to speak their minds? Things can quickly become chaotic, decisions overlooked, and important things buried. Next thing you know, you have two different hotel reservations fully paid upfront with no possibilities for cancellation or refund.
Before the planning become chaotic, make sure to keep all communications in one place. Often, groups pick out one organizer in charge of handling the planning process. But that is when people are left out of the loop, etc. Instead, opt for a communication dashboard where all messages are kept for future reference. Again Facebook, Google Plus, Whatsapp, Viber, GroupMe are excellent choices for group coordination. But they all fall short in terms of group travel planning. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see the hotels, vacation rentals, attractions to visit and relative dates in one place?
Hating your travel mates
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain.
Group travel ruins friendships, even the bestest. It gets even worse when you get stuck in a group with strangers or people you wouldn’t have chosen to go on a vacation with. The fact is that we don’t always have our say on people we travel with. Sometimes, they get assigned to us, other times, we need them to split travel costs.
There isn’t any magic apps here that will turn your travel mates into the perfect companions. If you are proactive, choose only people you are sure you share interests with, having an invite-only approach helps. But even then, negotiate and agree on the fact that you need some time for yourself during the trip. It is not because you travel as a group that you have doomed to do everything together.
Get stuck with the bill
The truly worst part of group travel is splitting travel expenses. The awkwardness of having the money talk is another friendship destroyer. First off, it is hard enough to figure out who pays for what, you also have to keep track of who benefited from it, thus owes money back. You also have to keep receipts and make sure you are not the only one paying for the bills.
Some people create a “travel pot” where they all equally contribute money to cover common travel expenses (gas, hotel, etc). But even then, there is the issue of sub-group expenses, and other charges that cannot be deducted from the pot.
What you will ultimately need is an expense tracker and manager. Luckily, there are apps that help splitting group expenses, beit between roommates, at a restaurant, or a hotel. You might also want to look for a specialized group travel expense manager that will keep track of all your expenses as they occur and figure out who owes what to whom.
Group travel was complicated because humans just don’t like coexisting without their egos taking over. As much as you claim to be a solo traveler, you will sooner or later have to travel as part of a group, be it a work retreat, family vacation, or a bachelor(ette) party. Instead of fearing those moments, be prepared to reap all the benefits of group travel. Safe travels.
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