5 Girls, 3 Boys and a Stray dog: Portugal 2016.

Yes while I am a staunch advocate for solo travel, I still very much enjoy travelling with company because while travelling alone can be liberating, nothing beats travelling with people you like (at least I hope you like them).

So you want to take a group trip and wondering how you’d survive? Here are my pointers, things I have picked up from several group trips over the years;

1.       Begin planning early

Some people like to plan a year ahead others don’t, if you are an early planner then start, nothing wrong with you laying down the plans if it helps your peace of mind, share the plans with the group. In most cases the person who doesn’t like planning i.e. me, wouldn’t care and would be fine with whatever the planner puts out (just as long as I don’t have to plan it)

For this very trip I ended up with a team of planners/accountants (no jokes there was excel sheets and shared documents, and cost analysis involved)

2.       Share information

The group might not read it, or they might but share the information you possess regarding the trip anyways. Don’t be like me, who upon arrival to Portugal found the car ‘we’ had hired and ‘I’ had apparently agreed to driving was a left hand driver. PS I have never driven a left handed car before, I was in a foreign country at night.  (Full disclosure; I didn’t read anything, but because the information was shared I ended up sitting at the airport frantically scrolling through my emails to find the plans I was supposed to follow from the airport) 

3.       Know the individuals joining the trip and play to their strengths

It simple, people can’t hide who they are, I  find this especially true on holidays and a group trip just about guarantees different characters would come out to play. The never wanting to participate in anything ones, The slobs, The overly excited ones, The always stays angry ones, The pleasant ones, the list is endless, if you recognise someone’s trait and you still bring them on a group trip or agree to join a group trip with them, then be willing to put up with who they are or find a way to work around it.

4.       Don’t pay for anything on behalf of the group unless you absolutely have to

Let individuals book their flights, it’s easier for them to manage themselves than for you to be responsible for their flights should something happen. Same for hotels, I cannot recommend booking.com enough, chose accommodation that allows cancellation always! You never know who’s going to pull out or pull in. This group started off with different sets of people, some dropped out, some joined in, before ending up last minute with 8.  The danger of paying ahead is clearly obvious, you might end up spending more than you budgeted because someone dropped out or you might end up having to sleep on the kitchen counter because someone join in and there isn’t enough beds.

5.       Be sure to confirm how restaurant bills will be split ahead of time

You’d be amazed how something so trivial can quickly become ridiculously ridiculous. Yes decide if the bill is going to be split evenly or by what you eat and how much you drink. You don’t want to end up counting how many prawns from the shared platter you ate and the portion of sardine spread you used! Trust me nothing pretty in a bunch of adults almost fighting each other over change.

6.       Leave your ‘I’ mentality at home

You’ve agreed to come on a GROUP holiday that’s a fact. Have a group perspective in mind, it simply isn’t about just you for the duration of that trip. If you propose an activity to the group and no one is falling in line then tough! Add it to your bucket list for when you travel alone, don’t sulk the entire day and ruin other people’s mood, My rule is if only 1 person wants to or does not want to do something, tough. They should still come along with the group anyways because you never leave a man behind, if however more than 1 person are against something then refer to point below.

7.       It is okay to split the group

If you’re in a big group, it is norm that a few people want to do something and a few others don’t, then it is okay to split the group. We all have varying degrees of energy and interests. And in this instance it is okay.  Some want to go clubbing, others don’t that is perfectly fine split the group. If 1 person wants something and nobody else does, try and convince 1 more person, you’d be amazed how quickly people can go from all no’s to some yes with a little bit of assurance.

8.       Be your brother’s keeper

This I learnt more succinctly from Portugal, the safety of your group is in each person’s hand. From something as minor as reading the map adequately, to sharing a kayak, to doing a better job at keeping a scary dog from obviously frightened members of the group, you don’t want your trip to be ruined by something that could be avoided completely by looking out for each other. (in this instance a stray dog dramatically ruined what should have been an amazing night) It still ended up being an amazing night anyways *wink*

Finally,  Despite all of the crazy group travel still gets a definite yes from me. From sliding off huge water slides, to dirt biking, to kayaking, parasailing and of course intense arguing and bickering.  It allows you better understanding of people and pushes you to do things you wouldn’t do on your own because of course your people like you have the courage to do it.

PS; don’t be a party pooper, do your best to stay well behaved human your mother raised you to be, be considerate and go out of your way, yes I mean go out of your way to be pleasant during your group trip, you are personally responsible for ensuring you enjoy your trip and allowing the rest of the group to enjoy their hard earned trip.

Love & Light, D

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I’d love to know how you feel about group travel.

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