Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Successful group travel for United States citizens
by: Denae D’Arcy for Penny Pinching Globetrotter
You’ve booked your ticket, packed your bags and are ready for an experience of a lifetime! Because you are traveling with others, we have a few tips to make your time with fellow travelers the very best that it can be for you. Because if you’re happy, your positive vibe will exude to those around you and the group energy will be memorable!
1. To have a successful group trip, try to pause and listen. Travel can be stressful because you might be dealing with a different language and culture. When you want to interrupt your guide to ask a pressing question, give it a second. Your question will likely be answered momentarily. Trust your guide to give the information you need and to ask for your questions after explaining a topic to the group. This allows you to be more relaxed and allow the guide to take care of you.
2. For a successful group trip, acknowledge jet lag. You’ve just traveled across several time zones and probably didn’t get much sleep on the plane. When we’re tired, our best selves can be hidden because we don’t have as much positive energy to present. Be patient with yourself and others and remember not to judge too harshly on first impressions. Hopefully those around you will cut you some slack too.
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3. To best enjoy traveling with a group, find one thing to be in awe of each day. As pointed out in our first tip, it is easy to pay attention to the things that are NOT going well on your trip. However, to get the best experience for yourself, identify one thing each day that makes you happy. Maybe it is the vista from your hotel room, the cool breeze coming off the water near the ocean, a new dish you haven’t tried… Give yourself the chance to be open to things that are different and beautiful. Consider writing these observations down to share with family at home later.
4. Another tip for a successful group trip, put your phone on silent vibration. This suggestion is for your comfort as well as for your fellow travelers. It is not proper etiquette to have a phone that dings or sounds loud clicking noises when you take photographs. This is a great rule for others to follow around you as well. Your video clips can be ruined by someone’s loud phone. If you don’t know how to put your phone on vibration, ask your guide for help. They will thank you.
5. To have a successful group trip, be on time. If you are like most people and use your phone to check the time, it will be in sync with your guide’s timing. If you wear a watch, set it to the time on your guide’s phone the first day of the trip. You will be treated with greater respect and grace by everyone if you are on time to meet up. Being five minutes early is an amazing bonus!
6. An important tip for a successful group trip, keep your items organized when sharing with a stranger. Hopefully your roommate won’t be a stranger for long and perhaps you’ll become friends! That is more likely to happen when you both have consideration for the space you are sharing. After using a shared bathroom, put your things neatly to the side. Allow for both of you to have the same amount of space in the closet and dresser. If you decide to have a snack of food that is has a strong scent, please eat it outside of the room.
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7. To have a successful group trip, wear headphones. This tip goes along with number 4. If you enjoy watching videos on your phone with the sound on, use your headphones. This is a common complaint on group trips. There seems to be travelers who are oblivious to the sound pollution they are offering in group settings such as a van, bus, or hotel waiting area. Times have changed and it is no longer acceptable to watch videos on digital devices with the sound on around other people. This includes phone and video calls. Take them away from the group. If you need to purchase affordable headphones on your trip, your guide will assist you.
8. A great tip for a successful group trip, lower the volume of your voice. U.S. citizens are notorious for speaking loudly in public. While this is commonly accepted in the United States, you will have a better travel experience outside of your home country by keeping a more subdued volume. You will quickly find favor with vendors and service providers by being less expressive with the volume of your voice. Culturally, this is a polite thing to do and you will appear to be a more seasoned traveler which has its benefits!
9. To enjoy a successful group trip, stop complaining. This could be our most important tip. If a fellow traveler complains about his/her surroundings, the food, the weather, how far she/he has to walk, other travelers, etc., that negative vibe is going to reverberate throughout the group. This brings everyone down and has the ability to lessen your travel experience. Please notice and reframe complaints you share with the group. Share your concerns privately with your guide. Try not to engage with others who complain or constantly present negativity. Just remove yourself from the situation (politely walk or move away) and focus on something that makes you happy.
10. To ensure you have the best group trip, limit your time around fellow travelers you don’t vibe with. Not all personalities mesh. If there is someone who has a different political or religious perspective than you, that’s okay! Do not attempt to argue your points over a meal with the goal to change their mind. This is not appropriate behavior in group travel. Of course, civil conversations are fine but when the wine is flowing over a nice meal, some topics need to be pleasantly put to the side. If you find you do not enjoy someone’s company, don’t sit next to them on the van or at a meal and focus on making new friends.
Be gracious. Be thankful. Be respectful. Be truthful. Be enjoyable and most importantly enjoy it! We want you to have the best trip possible and love this once in a lifetime experience.
Denae D’Arcy is a world traveler who has lived in Sri Lanka, London and the US. She has enjoyed over 20 group trips around the world. She is a trained yoga instructor and Reiki master and practices at Malibu Holism.