3 Rules of Group Travel

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In my day I’ve gone solo and I’ve gone with groups. I enjoy both types of trips, as they both offer different advantages and challenges.

During a group trip to Florida for Spring Break, Senior Year of College I learned a few things. The trip was 5 of us in my tiny Toyota, Corolla. None of us had a lot of money, so we stayed with a recently graduated friend who worked at Disneyworld.

Due to all sorts of reasons the trip was a lot of stress. A lot of disagreements, arguments, even fights (not physical, but verbal) happened due to no one being willing to do what they wanted to do and more or less forcing or guilting other people into doing what they wanted to do.

It’s easy for me to point the main blame at one certain guy, but really it was everyone, and me just as much as anyone else who caused the problems.

In the end we made it back to Iowa, and somehow stayed friends, which is kind of amazing when I think of how bad the trip went.

In the end, I came up with two RULES of group travel. The Third was officially added on the recent trip to Australia when we were discussing the RULES of group travel.

There will always be those who disreguard these rules, so I always like to put them on the table before a trip. Sure, I do it in a playful joking way, but by putting them out there, we can always go back to them when disagreements about what we “should” or “want to” do come up.

It’s up to you, you can use them or not, but I offer this advice: Ignore them at your own peril.

THE 3 RULES OF GROUP TRAVEL:

1. EVERYONE AGREES TO DO THEIR OWN THING
“Wait, what? We’re on a group trip. We should stick together. We should do everything together so we can have the memories.”
And I say, with 100% certaintainty, “No, you shouldn’t do everything together, and you’ll have the memories”.

And here’s why. When you are with a group it is almost inevitable that different people will want to do different things. Sure, you might like to do a number of the same things together, but it’s rare to find someone who wants to do everything someone else does.

Which gets you into the sticky situation of arguing for your point. Sure, it’s cool to say why you want to do something, and it’s great to try things you might not have thought about, but the issue comes when people will MAKE you do what they want to do. They may be straight forward, or they might be passive agressive, but either way leads to tension and resentment.

Better, when two people want to do different things, and there isn’t enough time or desire to do both, to go your separate ways. Yep, split up. You goto the museum all day, and your friend (or wife, or husband) will head to the park and go on the boat tour. You go shop while they watch the circus. Whatever it is. Just set up a time to meet later, dinner, or maybe the hotel that night, and you can both share your adventures, tell your stories, and be grateful you got to do what you wanted to do on your 3 days in Barcelona.

RULE 2: COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Just because your friends, family, lovers or strangers, doesn’t mean you have any idea what the other person wants to do or where they want to go or even how they like to travel. Be sure to tell people what kind of trip you like to have (adventure, culture, partay!), so you can see where you are similar or different. Do this before a trip, to make sure to not end up with a group you can’t stand. And do it regularly during the trip. It’s okay to take a day off, it’s okay to go 110% all the time, but make sure you make it clear to the other people what you’re feeling. And don’t expect them to join in or want to do the same thing. Respect what they want as well.

And if it all comes down to it, remember rule #1.

RULE 3: HAVE FUN
For the love of God ,you’re travelling. Sure there will be challenges, and setbacks, and your luggage will get lost or you’ll hurt your neck or get sick, or you’ll have an argument. But really, think of how lucky and blessed you are to be out taking this trip, seeing the world and having these experiences. And if for some reason the people you are with are making you miserable (or you are them), remember you can always split up for a good portion of the trip. Just because you had a plan, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it if everything’s going to hell.

So that’s what I got. RULES.
RULES can get in the way, but here are a few that I think really help out with group trips.

Get out there, grab your friends, and enjoy!

Craig Ouellette
Craig Ouellette is a world traveling, independent filmmaker, and karaoke fiend. He has been to dozens of countries, made dozens of films, and sung more karaoke songs than he can count. He hopes the tales of adventure will entertain.
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