Group travel provides a great opportunity to bond with others and create lasting memories and friendships. However, group travel can also be challenging, with different personalities creating interesting group dynamics.
To make the experience enjoyable for everyone and stave off any potential catastrophes, here are some guidelines to keep in mind before planning your next group trip.
Refusing to communicate
Communication is key to successful group travel. Ensuring that everyone’s expectations of the trip are known and met will help prevent conflicts arising.
Rather than taking control and booking everything yourself, have an honest conversation with your travel companions about their wants and needs. It’s easy to assume everyone will be on the same page as you, and just as excited to embark on all the same trips, but everyone has a different travel style. You might need to accommodate some extra rest days or at least provide the option.
Communication is particularly important when it comes to expenses. For example, have a discussion about how much people are able to spend on accommodation, then use that to find a hotel or homestay within budget. Then, do the same for trips and activities.
Being late for activities during a group trip can be frustrating for everyone involved, as it can delay the schedule and create stress for other members in the group.
Always make sure to set your alarms and check the itinerary before you leave, so you have a clear understanding of what activities are planned and when. It is always better to factor some extra time into your schedule in case of unforeseen delays.
If you are running late, let the other members of the group know so that they can make the appropriate arrangements for you.
Not drinking responsibly
It can be easy to get carried away when drinking. But overindulging with alcohol can create some tense situations and likely won’t set you up for a positive experience the day after.
Ignoring group dynamics
Ignoring group dynamics can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts, which make the experience less enjoyable for everyone involved.
Avoid power struggles and exclusion within the group and address any issues before they escalate. It is important to encourage communication, mediate any disagreements, and make sure that everyone feels included to make the trip successful.
Not respecting personal space
“When friends are staying at a rental, everyone should respect each other’s privacy,” said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life. “It’s not necessary to spend all your time together. If you are friends, you will notice if they are tired, or have had enough ‘friend time,’ and it’s important to give them their personal time and space.”
Not everyone wants or needs to be together 24/7 so be respectful of your travel companions’ need for alone time. Again, don’t assume everyone is on the same page.
Making excessive demands
Being overly demanding on a group trip or expecting special treatment can create tension within the group.
It’s important to be mindful of your behaviour and be considerate of other’s needs. For example, clean up after yourself when you’re sharing a space with others and make sure you do your fair share when it comes to division of labour.
“If you are renting a vacation home, you will need to discuss meal planning logistics,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Are you always eating in? Or out? Will there need to be a grocery run? Meal prep, cooking and clean-up should be delegated way in advance.”
Inviting other people to join without asking the rest of the group
Decisions that affect everyone should be made in consultation with your group. So don’t forget to have a conversation before extending an invitation to someone else to join you for all or part of the trip.
“There should be agreement about others,” Ms Smith said. “Is there anyone else who may be joining you? From nearby relatives to a love interest your friend met at a bar, have a conversation about whether others will be allowed to join the group.”
Not doing your fair share
When travelling with a group, help out with tasks whenever you can to prevent any one person from feeling overburdened. Try to avoid leaving all the logistic planning to one person, offer help and advice when you can.
Not paying your fair share
When planning a group trip, make a list of upcoming expenses, such as accommodation, food, and sightseeing, and create a budget that is affordable for everyone.
Be mindful of expenses and avoid overspending on unnecessary things. If there is a chance of something exceeding the budget allocated for it, adjust the budget accordingly and make sure everyone is on board.
Refusing to compromise
“Understand there are ways to offer choices when travelling,” Ms Smith said. “You do not need to always travel together to the destination. Instead, decide the vacation starts when you check into the hotel. Then one person can travel nonstop first class and the other can opt for a layover flight that saves them some serious cash.”
People can spend different amounts of time at the destination, so if there’s more you want to do that didn’t make it onto the itinerary, consider returning home a day or two later, and tackle it during your solo time at the end.
“You can all arrive for the long weekend, then you can extend your stay if you choose,” Ms Smith explained. “Be open and flexible in your thinking to find a solution that will work for everyone.”
How do you plan a fun group trip that caters for everyone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.