To group travel or not to group travel?

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It can be dangerous to go traveling alone. Take this:

Take this puppy

Or, at the very least, consider that there are tangible benefits to jumping on a group tour rather than planning out the entire trip yourself (especially if you’re a first time traveller). We had a chat with Chris from Lonely Planet on the ups and downs of 

Why go for a group?

  • Jump the queues — often tour groups have tickets pre-arranged to major or busy attractions meaning you don’t have to wait in crazy, boring long lines to get into an attraction. 
  • Everything’s done for you — it’s all organised on your behalf, including how you get there, what you see and where you stay. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
  • It’s super social — if you’re on a multi-week tour you get to know your other travellers and often you’ll have new people joining at various points along the way.
  • Local expert — most tour groups provide you with a host or guide knowledgeable about the area you’re travelling in/to.
  • It’s all inclusive! Once you’ve paid your fee for the group tour, all you’ll really need is spending money (note: look to what meals are included as sometimes not every meal is covered in the fee).
  • Skill up — choose a tour group that has some kind of ‘learning’ aspect involved (like cooking school, a local craft workshop etc).
  • Big and small — there’s SO many group tour providers to choose from and you can go as big or as small as you want (check out the “tour capacity” to see how many you’ll be travelling with).
  • You don’t need to group it the entire way — consider something like adding a small five day group tour in the middle of a trip.

What are the pitfalls of group travel?

  • Follow the flag — a big downside to being a part of a group is that you’re a member of a really conspicuous pack, so you don’t blend in and can be a target of pesky street vendors.
  • Odd man out — group tours can be a bit like travel Survivor if you don’t like you’re fellow travellers you may want to have yourself voted off the bus stat!
  • Everything’s done for you — the downside to having things organised for you is that the choice of where to eat and stay is taken away from you.
  • I want OUT! Group tours do offer some free time but you’re on a schedule, so this will be the first thing to get cut if there’s a scheduling issue. 

Chris’ 5 golden rules for group travel.

  1. Check the total capacity of the tour so you know if you’re joining a big beast or a petite bunch.
  2. Read up on the itinerary — make sure you’re covering the things YOU want to see. If it cover 3/4’s of what you wanted to see then it’s a great option.
  3. Try and travel with a companion — that way if you can’t stand the other travellers you’ll have someone to talk to and you can share your accommodation with them.
  4. Choose a tour group that has an ethical or sustainable ethos.
  5. Find a tour group that facilitates a lot of free time so you can go off exploring yourself, also meaning you spend your traveller cash with locals and inject some money into local economies.

Tips from the textline:

☏ I used to do this every year with a group of about 10 mates. it sounds like the best idea you’ll ever have. Guys, it is the worst idea you will ever have. Rob from Sutherland

☏ Japan snowboarding for sure. Get a big hostel around hakuba or niseko and cut sick

☏ I did 12 people for 12 days in two camper vans around the south island of NZ. So much fun, NZ is so well set up for vanning. Amazing scenery and so much to do, particularly in Queenstown. Also, just so, so much booze

☏ Me and 6 mates went 3 months backpacking around Central America and it was the best 3 months of our lives. Go with easy going blokes and you’ll have no dramas! Mitch from Tallarook

 Re: group holidays, don t wait for the whole group to agree on activities! If it s something you want to do, just book it, if everyone is indecisive you ll never get anything done. Phil from Melbourne

☏ Bali with about 20 lads from our area….was pretty hectic wouldnt go for 3 weeks again lol 5 days max haha

 I traveled with 12 people through Nicaragua and was amazing. Some lead and some followed. Worked so well! We would book entire buses and dorm rooms for the group. Trav melbs

Two words…. houseboat baby

☏ Have deadline dates for money collections and make someone a leader of organising everything Lucy gong x

☏ My best group travel tip is don t try too hard to fit in. If you just be yourself, especially rn you re traveling alone, you will have such a good time! Also pack something that Everyone will need at some point e.g Panadol and everyone will love you! Marc Melbourne